A Little R&R
“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
So folks, the summer is almost over, we’re 34 weeks into this little experiment, and I haven’t had any vacation. None. Zip. Zilch. My Long Island law firm is growing and I can’t see any relief until November. Coincidentally, the New York City Marathon is on November 1.
Strange that my marathon training takes rest days into account but my work doesn’t. Rest is an essential ingredient to any training program. And, I’m not talking about “active rest.” Active rest is a light or easy day that hastens recovery and makes you feel stronger and faster when you resume your regularly scheduled workout. You know, swim, walk, yoga, foam roller.
My training schedule has a couple of active rest days in it. I run 4 days per week, active rest for 2 days, and veg out on the sofa on Sunday. There’s a lot to be said for sleeping in on Sunday.
There’s a huge problem with active rest. Most of it has to do with human nature. Active recovery requires self-control. Humans have poor self-control. For me, unless I’m really disciplined, an easy 4 mile run can quickly become a full blown massive hill workout simply because the easy pace feels . . . easy. In that case, the “active rest” did more harm than good. Chances are, I’ve already run hills, or sprints, or whatever and I really need to rest and let my body recover.
Most businesspeople, myself included, subscribe to the German proverb – “rest breed rust.” Recently, I fell into the trap by taking a “staycation.” Relax by the pool. Chill with the kids. Not think about work. But, there’s the internet, and remote access, and that briefcase full of work that I needed to get to that I brought with me on my “vacation”! So much for my ability to actively rest when it comes to work.
So, in the interest of my own sanity, I will be taking some passive rest for the next week or so. The Route will return after Labor Day.
The Fear of Success
“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning” – Billie Jean King, need I say more?
I know Billie Jean King. I’ve hung out with her, had dinner with her, and hell, I even sat in her seats at Wimbledon last year. She is, in a word, absolutely amazing. I know – that’s two words. But, if you knew her, you’d understand.
BJK is correct. Ordinary people are afraid of success. Attaining any goal, whether it’s running a marathon or losing 50 pounds, brings its own set of challenges and even fears. These apply equally to runners, business owners, and folks who have the United States Tennis Association National Tennis Center named after them.
Success means change. Change creates uncertainty. Your old habits and systems won’t work and you will have to adapt to your new, successful way of operating. The bar for your performance will be raised and you will wonder if you can achieve (or maintain) that success. You will have less time because a new level of performance means harder work handling new details and consequently more demands on your time. Will your family suffer because you are now successful?
Success also means that you can’t hide. Once you succeed, there will be new pressure to perform at a certain level again. This time, people will be watching. People always watch to see if the winner can win again.
Worse, you are watching to see if you can do it again. You wonder if you first victory was a happy accident. You worry that if you fail at your next endeavor people will question your talent and chalk your prior success up to luck. The added pressure of this self-doubt can make your second performance much more difficult and devalue your first success.
Finally, maybe you have always wondered if you could succeed at something. Maybe you don’t feel worthy of that success because people have told you that you don’t deserve it. You know your place as an average person. Success will change that. People will look to you for advice, consultation, and leadership.
Success will forever change the way that you see yourself.
That’s what BJK was talking about.
“Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.” – Russell Warren
An obsession is “an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on the mind.” Wherever I am in the world, I inevitably find myself thinking “that looks like a nice place for a run.” When I’m not running, I’m thinking about my next run. When a friend who is a financial adviser took me through his patented “questions and answers to find what I wanted from life” exercise, he asked me what I would do in a perfect world. My first answer – “run.”
Based on all of that, I am obsessed with running. But, not really.
I’ve found the balance. I haven’t quit my job and moved to the Copper Canyon like “Caballo Blanco,” the real life hero of Chris McDougal’s book Born to Run. Nope, I run a successful Long Island law firm. I put two kids through school, and blah, blah, blah. Perfectly normal.
Yet, running is always there.
So is my Long Island law firm.
Many new (and not so new) business owners are afraid that their business might consume their life. They are afraid that they will not have time for the long runs, or for kids’ lacrosse and soccer, or friends and family. The notion that the very thing that gives you and your family a life may also consume that life can be terrifying.
Many new business owners think that they have to eat, breath, and sleep their business to keep it moving. They experience a tremendous amount of guilt when they spend any downtime away from making money. That’s just not realistic. Just like I can’t spend my entire day running, I also don’t spend my entire day obsessing about the business. That doesn’t mean that running my law firm doesn’t take a lot of my time, or that I’m not always thinking about how to improve our bottom line, or that I don’t jump into action when I need to. It does mean that I’ve learned to manage the stress and balance my world.
Doing something that I truly love.
If you are doing something that you love and are passionate about, it makes that trade-off and sacrifice easier to handle. Running resets the mechanism and allows me to clear my head and work out issues in solitude. Some folks meditate. I run.
So, if you are afraid that the business will consume you, you need to reevaluate what you are doing.
SilvermanAcampora represented PSEG Long Island in a case brought by eight residents of Shoreham and an advocacy group named Shoreham Wading River Advocates for Justice seeking to stop the construction of a solar power farm in Shoreham, New York. The residents and the advocacy group brought the suit against the developer of the solar farm, as well as PSEG LI and LIPA, with which the developer had contracts to sell the power generated by the project.
On August 3, 2015, Acting Justice Joseph Farneti dismissed a lawsuit against all of the defendants, including PSEG-LI, which won its motion seeking to have the claims against it, seeking a determination by the Court that PSEG-LI’s contract with the developer was null and void, dismissed.
For the full Newsday article on the decision, click here.
The Lemonade Stand Effect
“I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.” -Alberto Salazar, three-time winner of the NYC marathon
For my weekly long runs, I usually loop around the neighborhood so that I pass my house several times. That way, I don’t have to carry too much water with me. This weekend, while out for 15 miles, I felt so good that I decided to extend the loop and explore an adjacent neighborhood that brought me a couple of miles from the house. It was also a few more miles from my water supply. Not a good situation, but what was I supposed to do? Youthful exuberance on long runs doesn’t happen that often and you just don’t waste that kind of thing.
Anyway, I knew that I had to gut it out until I ran the three miles to the house.
Or did I?
Up ahead was a little kid setting up the old fashioned lemonade stand. Since I always carry a ten dollar bill with me, I knew that salvation was in sight.
The kid with the lemonade stand not only brought back a wave of nostalgia but also got me thinking about the third fear that all business people experience. Especially the start-ups.
One of my close friends just quit his job to open his own business. In the two or three weeks before he finally walked into his boss’s office and laid it all down, he must have called me forty times. Now, this is a guy who is at the top of his game. He has it all – know-how, personality, and contacts. Yet, he was experiencing what I’ll call the “lemonade-stand effect.” Every entrepreneur experiences it. Even Long Island lawyers.
It’s the feeling that you first get when you start a business – any kind of business – that it’s a low budget operation that just doesn’t feel real. Will anyone buy my lemonade? As a kid, you worry about that, but it really doesn’t matter. As a father of four, the lack of stability and security is daunting. You might not have an office, no employees, no benefits, and an erratic paycheck. You’re the boss, so there’s no one guiding you. And so, you worry that you’re just running a rinky-dink lemonade stand and playing at business.
The lemonade stand embodies the best and the worst of being an entrepreneur. You get out of it exactly what you put into it. No one will tell you what to do. If nothing happens, it’s your fault. If you are wildly successful, it’s also your “fault.” You alone get to generate the order and the structure of your business. The solution to the instability should now be familiar to you – set some goals. Daily, weekly, and longer term goals force structure and order on your business and are vital to conquering the lemonade stand effect.
As for the neighbor’s kid?
I gave him my tenner, bought the pitcher, and finished my run happy to have given yet another budding Long Island entrepreneur a head start.
Running In The Rain
“When it’s pouring rain and you’re bowling along through the wet, there’s satisfaction in knowing you’re out there and the others aren’t.” – Peter Snell, multiple Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder
I ran in the rain the other day. Not unusual for me. I once ran 16 miles in a thunderstorm. I love running in the rain. Mostly because of what Sir Snell said – I know that no one else is doing it. Makes me feel like a badass.
I probably look like an idiot, but I feel badass.
Weather is a part of every serious runner’s life. It’s always just there. Good, bad, sunny or stormy, runners have to deal with the weather.
Business people have the same problem. Yes, some literally have to deal with the weather. But metaphorically every business, even Long Island law firms like mine, have to deal with the economy and with economic uncertainty.
In a recent poll, economic uncertainty was fear #2 shared by business people. And for good reason.
Even though our overall economy is growing, there is significant anxiety and uncertainty. Take technological advances for instance. Additive manufacturing (3-D printing) might be the next big thing for some, while simultaneously eliminating jobs and opportunities for others. It’s no great revelation that no one can provide any certainty about the effect that new technology will have either on the economy or the job market. Not even the entrepreneurs who are promoting the new technologies can predict what impact those technologies will have in the next decade.
Uncertainty breeds further fear in other areas. College professors might lose jobs to online courses while others gain positions. The poor are worried that they will slip further behind while the rich are wondering whether or when their status will disappear.
But, runners and business folk soldier on regardless of the actual or economic climate. In fact, it helps some of them flourish.
Many small and wildly successful businesses were born during times of economic uncertainty and even recession. Hewlett Packard was formed during the Great Depression. Orbitz arose from the dotcom bust. The beer company, Samuel Adams, launched in the recession in the early 1980s.
I like to run in bad weather because I know that if I can cover 10 miles in the rain, I can cover 10 miles in the sunshine. Business people who have weathered tough times learn to appreciate the good and gain the confidence to ride out future storms. Whatever the weather, you need to get out there.
Like John Hanc recounted in his book 1001 Pearls of Runners’ Wisdom, “if you start skipping runs because the weather’s too lousy, pretty soon you start missing runs because the weather’s too nice!”