By Lisa Tamati
1. Willpower beats talent every time
Your abilities don’t have to limit you . A love for deserts and adventure started me running ultra marathons, not the fact I was a talented runner. Athletically speaking I am not the right genetic make up to be a talented runner. I am not the right body shape, I have asthma, I have a small lung capacity I broke two vertebrae and have 4 crushed discs. The list is long if you want to look for reasons for not being a runner. But by finding my niche, i.e. running long and slow and in hot dry climes mostly I discovered that despite not having the lungs or speed I did have a lot of endurance and stamina and the will power to do it.
2. To succeed you have to being willing to risk failure. The fear of failing is always there. I think if you let that rule your life you will never face any major challenges successfully and you will be in danger of being another person at the end of their days who didn’t follow their dreams and has a lot of regrets. You have to feel the fear, acknowledge it for what it is and then get on with the job anyway, finding ways to control your thoughts (because thats the root of all fear) as best you can. To take an example from my carer. When I got the start line in Bluff for the length of NZ run where I was planning to run 2250km. I was petrified. But my mum gave me some timely and strong advice. To stop panicking because it would do me no good, there was no way out but through and that I had to pull my focus in and not look too far ahead but to concentrate on the very next step, on getting through the first hour, or day. By just taking one step at a time you can break down mammoth projects into bite size pieces.
3. No matter what everyone around you might say, YOU have to Back yourself.
Friends and even family might ridicule your discourage you or be negative about your dreams for whatever sometimes valid, more often than not, not.
But if you deep deep down believe you can or if you just want to live life your way then back your decision and fight through the negativity and avoid people that will pull you down that doesn’t mean you should ignore experienced, sound advice but not everybody is giving you seasoned well thought advice.
Surround yourself with people you will tell you you can and here is how. Having strong mentors has been so important to me. To have people who have believed in me. There were far more people who didn’t but I used that as motivation to pull me through when the going got tough.
I have to psychologically prepare myself for an event. Not just to envisage the distance necessarily but to envisage what is likely going to happen, what obstacles I am likely to face and what answers or motivations I have to get around those obstacles. I think about the “Why” of what I am doing. Who I am doing it for, what will I achieve. Why do I want this. You have to know your “Why” when it gets rough or you will find yourself asking yourself “What am I doing this for and why should I put myself through this and why don’t I just stop the pain now and sit down and give up”.
When preparing for a run like that in Death valley or the La Ultra in the Himalayas with some huge obstacles like heat and altitude to overcome as well as the stupidly long distances, I have to have many conversations in my head about what I will do when my body starts screaming at me to stop. I have to know that no matter what, that negative voice telling you to stop, will not overcome me. If you have made the decision that you will go through “whatever it takes” to get there, you can be sure you will make it or have a real damn good excuse why not.
4. Feed off others for motivation.
I run often for charities or personal causes that mean a lot to me, that gives me so much motivation to keep going. I surround myself too, with good people, people who will pick me up when I am down, find a way around the problem,talk me through the lows and back me. When I ran through NZ for Cure Kids and CanTeen I had a young boy of 13 who was fighting cancer come out with me and join the crew. When I was crying one night in a desperate state of exhaustion and anxiety and doubting whether I could really do it, young Wayne came into my room, grabbed my hand and told me what it meant to him that someone would do this for all the kids who had cancer and that it made a difference to him. That moment touched me deeply, here was this young man facing cancer and here he was caring for my state of wellbeing and encouraging me. Who can’t find motivation to continue then?
You realise too that no matter how hard you think you have it, someone else next to you has it a damn sight harder and they are fighting on and so can you.
5. Take a chance. I have a bad habit of getting super excited about an idea or challenge then signing up in that state of excitement without understanding necessarily all that will be required to get there, what it will actually mean. How much preparation, pain, time, money and effort it will require, the consequences of failure and so on.
But by being like that, a passionate, excitable, and curious person, I have found I just work things out along the way. I may find myself mid way through the preparation, project management or planning and training where I am often sitting there going “What the hell was I thinking?” Invariably, however, I just keep going and keep moving forward and that doubt and tiredness and exhaustion usually goes again, it passes, and then somehow you get to the start line of the race, mission or business and it’s all go. And when you finish, succeed or fail it was always an experience, a massive learning curve, often a confidence builder and never a waste of time and sometimes just epic and life changing.
Being willing to put yourself out there, to push outside your comfort zone means you will always achieve more than the person who is timid and spends so much time thinking and preparing and never deciding to actually do it. Life is for living, laughing, stumbling, achieving, risking and adventure and I wouldn’t have it any other way.