Zig Ziglar reminded me of the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality. Suspend doubt, and trust that the pieces will fall into place later, and that you have the ability to connect the dots. I found this mentality critical when trying to understand calculus. No, I never had a real problem understanding calculus. I did, however, have moments where my understanding lapsed. I noticed some fellow students getting stuck at that understanding gap, yet I would instead accept things as they were stated and allow the gaps in understanding to fill themselves in.
My biggest challenges to date have been because of doubt and not lack of ability. Writer’s block nearly prevented me from getting my master’s degree. I always had doubts that what I was looking at was worthwhile. I had fits and starts with many research ideas because I couldn’t believe in myself or the idea. I finished my thesis, because time constraints forced me to suspend the doubts.
The same goes for my running. Until age 29, I had a few moments where I attempted to become a runner. I failed miserably. I’d get about a week or so into my efforts and give up, because I did not see any progress. Unfortunately, if you look for progress, it won’t happen.
Then something happened. 3 months before my 30th birthday, I started walking 3-5 miles per day, every day. Without realizing it, I was jogging a little more each time and walking a little less:
- By June, I had managed to run my first consecutive mile in my entire life.
- By my 30th birthday, I ran my first 5k (33:44 – 10:52/mile).
- By that December, I ran my first half-marathon (2:08:23 – 9:49/mile).
- By the follow November, I ran my first marathon (4:34:06 – 10:28/mile).
- In six more months, I ran my fastest marathon in 3:39:45 – 8:24/mile. I began this blog shortly before that race, and let other people know about it after the race. I believe the only way I can continue to improve is get beyond goals that are reasonable in my mind, as I’ve already passed all of those goals, anyway.
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I believe the first thing that happens when doubt creeps in is that we lose focus, and the doubt gives us an “easy out”. Don’t take it. Maintain focus. Dispel those doubts.