In 1983, one of the world’s most amazing races was about to begin. One hundred and fifty of the most physically fit and well-trained long distance runners had assembled in Sydney, Australia, for the Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon. What’s unique about this ultra marathon is its distance: a brutal 875 kilometers or about 550 miles. The race was predicted to take the winner seven days. The prevailing strategy was that the expert runners would run for 18 hours each day and sleep for 6. They would stop to eat and rest frequently to avoid injury and crippling muscle fatigue.
As the runners gathered in the early morning hours and prepared for the start of the race, an unlikely participant came up to the registration desk. He was wearing bib overalls and gumboots. As he stepped up to the registration desk, the agent there explained that this was an 875-kilometer race and probably not something he could do. The man, you see, was 61 years old.
“No,” he said. “I want to run. I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”
As the race started, the other runners took off at a much faster pace, but Cliff just shuffled along. When the other runners would stop to rest, Cliff just kept on shuffling in the ruthless Australian heat. When the runners stopped to sleep, Cliff just kept on shuffling. Soon, it was obvious to everyone involved that Cliff was not only competing, but he was winning.
Cliff just didn’t stop. Day after day, night after night, he just kept on shuffling. In a record time of 5 days, 15 hours and four minutes, Cliff crossed the finish line taking about two days off the winning time for the race. In fact, six runners would break the previous record that day, but none were faster than Cliff Young. Interestingly, at least three winners of the Sydney to Melbourne race have used the “Young shuffle” to win the race since then.
Like Cliff Young, I believe there is a winner waiting within each one of us—perhaps not for ultra marathons but for great things in life. It doesn’t matter if your dress is overalls and gumboots. It doesn’t matter if you’re 61 years old. When you stay consistent and “just keep on shuffling,” you’ll find there are amazing things waiting for you to do or be by building a better you.
We often talk about building a better business. But in my experience, building a better business almost always requires building a better you. Oftentimes that means we have to change. Mark Twain said, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” Becoming better is not easy. One of the reasons we don’t like to change is that we get comfortable where we are. We often get used to our routine, our friends, and our way of doing things. And, even if it’s not perfect, we accept it because it’s familiar.
Because we’re unwilling to change, we often get stuck in what we used to do instead of what we’re meant to do. We start to live in the past rather than the future. And what happens is we start to get in our own way. We become the stumbling block in our own life.
A stumbling block is the complete opposite of a building block. The term “stumbling block” comes from the Hebrew Bible in Leviticus where we’re told not to put a stumbling block before the blind. We’re not to speak ill of our neighbor. Many of us would never think to tell our neighbor, “Since you’re overweight others won’t accept you.” We’d never think to tell her, “You’re too old to learn something new.” We’d never dare say, “You’re not good at speaking, so don’t even try to make that presentation.” But we say it to ourselves all the time. We place stumbling blocks in our own way.
The truth is, this doesn’t have to happen to us. We can fill our thoughts, minds and lives with encouragement. We can choose a better way. But building a better you does require a little stretching, growth and the willingness to be open to change.
Imagine that you’re driving down the road in your car. You get onto the freeway. You’re holding the wheel in a correct 10-and-2 position. And you hold the wheel perfectly, still refusing to adjust or move even a little. What will happen? You’ll eventually run off the road, possibly crash and stop progressing in your journey. However, if you’re willing to make small ongoing adjustments and not be rigid in your approach, you can progress in your journey.
Building a Melaleuca business is the same. Being open to change and willing to listen can help you avoid the stumbling blocks you might otherwise encounter. We often tell our new business builders to be coachable; yet, how often are we coachable?
I’ve learned small adjustments and changes done consistently will make all the difference.
One small adjustment is to listen less to our fears and exercise more courage. When we let fear dictate our action or lack of it, we fail to try. The ironic thing is that most of the time, our fears are false. Someone has said: FEAR stands for False Expectations Appearing Real. So, why not shake off your fear and act with courage? As my 15-yearold friend Jake Olson says, “Courage is to be afraid and do it anyway.”
We are a collection of our thoughts. Experts tell us we think between 2,000 and 3,000 thoughts per day, and most of those thoughts are worry, concern or negative in nature. Psychologists have described this collection of thoughts using a circle and calling it the zone of perception or awareness. Dr. Stephen Covey calls it the circle of concern. In this zone, we’re constantly worried about what others say, stressed about things that might happen, or afraid of failing.
Psychologists use an inner circle to represent our thoughts about what we can control.
The amazing thing is this: the more we let things outside our control dominate our thoughts, the more we let someone or something write our script in life. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m living a life I just didn’t choose to live?” When we put aside things outside our control, eliminate negative thoughts, and work within our circle of influence, we begin to live a self-authored life. We follow our own script. And it’s amazing the feelings of self-confidence and satisfaction that come to us when we live a self-authored life. When we focus almost exclusively on what’s within our circle of influence, our circle begins to expand and we can influence others and our own life in bigger and bigger ways. Let me give you an example. In building a Melaleuca business, instead of worrying about what everyone else is not doing or going to do, what if you focused your energy and thought on what you are going to do? What if you led by example and personally enrolled customers and developed Directors? If you do, others will follow.
At Melaleuca, I have seen leader after leader who felt like their business was out of control, that it was immovable and their influence was limited, who started working within their circle of influence and soon their influence and their business started to grow. When they freed themselves from worrying about and stressing about what was beyond their control, they had time and energy to stay focused on their own circle of influence.
This is an example of one small adjustment, one correction in your steering that will make all the difference in your business. The best gift you can give your team is your own personal example. Developing your own advancing personal Directors will do more for your team than any other activity you can do.
Thanks for all you do. We love working together with you as you build a business to last a lifetime.