When we are faced with challenges, how can we use emotional intelligence to vault over barriers we thought were unbreakable?
My name is Lara Williams and I am 44 years old, married and a mother of two girls. I love the outdoors. But, I have never really said to anyone, including myself, that I am a runner.
I remember the day when I got asked to run 100 kilometers with 3 other girl friends.
“100k!” I said with sheer disbelief in my voice! (For those of you not on the metric system that is 62 miles.) My friend replied, “it’s over 2 days, so it’s only 50k a day!” “Oh well, I guess that makes it alright then.” I replied sarcastically.
After my initial shock, fear and surprise in being asked. I eventually signed up for the event, “Race to the Stones’ and decided to raise money for cancer research, a charity very close to my heart , I felt delighted, happy & optimistic that everything would be OK at this moment.
That doesn’t mean it all went smoothly. I had to run with an injury, and I also had to navigate emotions of fear and anxiety, which made the whole thing even harder. It is so easy to spiral downwards into negative emotions when you are feeling slightly scared about something. ‘No, I can’t do this’, ‘my injury will come back’, I might get through day 1, but how will I run again day 2?’
After overcoming an injury and not completing all of my training, the weekend of the run came around! We were all feeling anticipation the night before, as we had all overcome personal obstacles to get to the start line. However, we all had the same sense of purpose and optimism that we were going to achieve it and enjoy it at the same time!
What I found interesting is how I managed to recognize a pattern of my own behavior when I felt anxious! Because I was so motivated to raise money for cancer research, I felt compelled to stay focused, positive and upbeat. This is a pattern that really helps me in different situations in my life.
The Starting Line
It was a glorious sunny morning, the skies were blue and the atmosphere at the start line was just buzzing with nerves, excitement and energy. With the starting signal, we were off and running.
We broke down the 100k into 10k chunks, so we could focus on each one, rather than the whole distance. It was during the last chunk of day 1, around mile 27, when one of my teammates’ blisters burst! She was in a lot of pain and limped along for the next 4 miles, but there was nothing we could really do until the half way camp. Doubt about finishing crept into our minds. However, we supported her, encouraged each other and all limped on together. At the halfway camp we did our best to rest up overnight.
Day 2 arrived and the weather had changed dramatically, it was cloudy, cold and windy. We set off and about 30 minutes into running the rain came! It was torrential and we all got soaked through. My legs felt so good and I was genuinely surprised at how well we were all feeling and running.
It was still raining and misty at the end, but at last the finish line was in site. We could see the flags, hear the music and the cheers when people were crossing the line. As we ran the last 100 meters of the race, we felt a surge of joy. We held hands and ran in a line. We were all tearful at this point and the emotions were driving us to pick up our feet and run faster. As we crossed the line, the sun came out, music was playing and we felt great. We had achieved what we had set out to do. We felt love for each other at that moment. I was proud to have raised money for a charity very close to my heart . At that moment I was living in harmony with my goals.
By using my ‘Emotional Intelligence’, I was able to achieve my goal successfully, while maintaining great relationships and helping others navigate their emotions to success too.
Consequential Thinking Wins the Day
Over the 2 days of running as a team, I found that applying consequential thinking to my actions and those of my teammates played a huge part in ensuring the success of the event. For example:
- If we run too fast, we won’t be able to maintain the pace.
- If we don’t eat enough, we will not have the energy to complete it.
- What we eat will impact on how much energy we have.
- If we stop for too long, our muscles will get cold and seize up.
By continually evaluating how we were all feeling, we were able to manage our pace, nutrition and hydration. Throughout the 2 days our empathy and understanding for each other deepened, because we were all having challenging moments at different times and were able to help and support each other. This gave us a real sense of unity and friendship.
I have now booked Vichy Ironman 2016…the possibilities are endless if you have the sense of hope, belief and purpose. All you have to do is, ‘Know Yourself’, ‘Choose Yourself’ and ‘Give Yourself’.
Author, Lara Williams is a consultant at Momentum4.