How Will Doing What Anyone Can Do Possibly Help Me?

Great question.  One I’ve been asked many times.

In Joe Henderson’s 1976 book The Long Run Solution, he suggested that becoming truly accomplished at running (or at anything, for that matter) doesn’t typically require us to perform superhuman feats. We don’t have to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Success doesn’t ask us to do what no one else can do.  All too often, success and happiness find those who have the discipline to do the everyday things, the things anyone can do that most of us never will.

To keep it in Joe Henderson terms, let’s say you want to run a marathon. Until the 1980s, and well before IRONMAN competitions and ultra-marathons were part of the public consciousness, marathon running was considered extreme. It wasn’t something most people would even attempt. Only a freak, or someone who lacked any other mode of transportation, would choose to run 26.2 miles. With the advent of Team in Training, which has raised more than $1 billion for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since 1988, marathon training programs for the average person became more prevalent.

In 1994, Oprah Winfrey showed the world that if you surround yourself with the right people and follow a training program, you, too, could run a marathon. (She also lost seventy-two pounds). The real challenge, of course, is sticking to the strict regimen required to get you ready for race day. Those of you who have done it know that the race is the easy part, relative to what it takes to prepare for it—sixteen to twenty-four weeks (depending on the program) of the daily discipline to do what anyone can do on a given day.

The wonderful part is that when you do the things anyone can do every day for four to five months, you can accomplish something almost no one can do. That’s the magic. The task is no different, whether you want to be an artist, a scholar, or a business leader. The question is: Are you willing to do the things anyone can do on a daily basis to achieve what you want in life? Because most people aren’t willing, doing what anyone can do puts you a step ahead of the rest.

How Can We Do Things Anyone Can Do More Often?

Surround Ourselves With the Right People.

Wanting something is one thing. Being committed to doing what it takes to make it happen is quite another. Left to our own devices, we all too often don’t do the work—or we don’t do it over a sustained period of time. We might get off to a good start, but we eventually succumb to whatever rationale we can conjure that explains why we stopped.

Even the most disciplined among us can benefit from involving our friends, family members, and colleagues in helping us achieve our goals. While we all know that no successful person in the history of the world ever accomplished anything totally by him- or herself, we see self-help as by-your-self-help.  As a result, we view our goals as solitary pursuits, and we don’t do the things anyone can do nearly often enough. This is why we fall short.

One thing we can do is seek out people who can play a positive role in our success and enlist their support. When we invite others to be our partners in success, they tend to help us do all those things anyone can.  And when we do, we give ourselves the best chance to achieve our goals whatever they may be.  That’s why doing what anyone can do help you HUGE!

*Includes excerpts from the book, What Anyone Can Do: How Surrounding Yourself With the Right People Will Drive Change, Opportunity, and Personal Growth.

The Circl.es Edition

Today’s show is quite literally a roundtable discussion – a circle of people sharing experience and insight. Participating are Karen Floyd, Ryan Foland, Rahfeal Gordon and Dan Hoffman. Dan is the founder and CEO of Circl.es, a company that builds software, programs, and workshops that make it easier for teams to connect meaningfully and grow faster. We’re showcasing the platform today because we love it so much. We hope you’ll check it out if you want to foster deeper, more meaningful collaboration inside or outside your organization.

Want to go far? Go together.

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”  It’s among my favorite quotes, and the one we used to open our new book, The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth & Success.   Turns out, I actually experienced this phenomenon firsthand on my recent trip to Porto, Portugal.  Let me explain.

Miguel Dias, CEO of CEO World was kind enough invite me to deliver a master class and participate as a mentor and as a member of a peer group at the ANJE Conference last month.  Prior to my leaving for the trip, Miguel asked me if I wanted to join him and a few of the other speakers for a morning run in Porto.  I thought, “What a great idea!”  Later, I learned that the other speakers accepted Miguel’s invitation with equal enthusiasm.  We all met in the hotel lobby early on Wednesday morning, well before the heat of the day would have made our run even more challenging.  Next thing you know, we were off and running – literally.

Now you may be asking yourself the question we should have asked before we embarked on this self-propelled excursion.  How far are we going?  Since none of us asked, we just kept running – from the Crowne Plaza hotel, through a lovely park which led us to the ocean, and then south along the ocean – a scenic tour of a beautiful section of Porto.  (And a run that up to this point was predominantly downhill).   It was at this time (about 7k or nearly 4.5 miles in), where we stopped for a quick selfie (pictured above left to right): Ryan Foland, Rahfeal Gordon, Miguel Dias, and yours truly  (the older guy at the end looking more exhausted than the other three).

As we were collecting ourselves, we learned two things: 1) We had to run back the same way we came (no shortcut to the hotel) and 2) because what goes down must come up, the remainder of our run would be primarily uphill.  Together, we ran to the hotel balancing a positive attitude with the familiar peer-to peer axiom “misery loves company.”

While you may regard this story as pretty unremarkable, consider this: Miguel invited us to run with him without knowing any of our running backgrounds or current fitness levels.  If he had, Miguel would have known that it’s been at least five years since either me, Ryan or Rahfeal have run anywhere close to that distance.

In talking with Ryan and Rahfeal upon our return to the hotel, we compared notes and agreed on three important points: 1) We all assumed (with a capital A) that it was unlikely that we would run any farther than 5-8 kilometers or 3-5 miles. 2) If we had been told that we were heading out for a run nearly twice that distance, we wouldn’t have even attempted it. 3) We ran farther than we could have ever predicted and much farther than any of us would have gone if left to our own devices.

It’s a fitting metaphor for the power of the group, whether you happen to be on a running tour or you’re running a company.  It offers all the proof I need that if you want to go far, you need the kind of people around you who will help you make that possible.  Who you surround yourself with matters, and on that summer morning in Porto, I could not have been surrounded by a finer group of people.

By the way, the quote we used to end the book, another African proverb, was “I am because you are.”