It was a little after 4 AM when I got to the starting line. It was freezing cold — barely 20 degrees fahrenheit outside. I was wearing Nike running tights, a compression shirt, and a light running jacket.
It was my last race of the year — a 50 miler through horse trails in beautiful North Carolina.
It was early and cold, and I was nervous — which makes everything a little more frustrating than it needs to be.
At that moment, I needed a bit of help. I was wearing a hat and gloves and struggling to get water into my running bottle without getting myself wet.
To be honest, I wanted to ditch the water bottle and just run empty-handed — but I wondered if that would be a mistake 10 miles in.
As I was fumbling around trying to figure this out, I heard a bit of advice from the runner standing next to me: “I’m not taking any water with me. It’s too cold right now to get dehydrated.”
THAT MADE SENSE TO ME.
It was 4 AM and cold. This guy was an expert. Clearly — you don’t need water when it’s cold outside. Throwing my water bottle on the ground, I turned my headlamp on and headed to the starting line, waiting for the gun to go off.
When the race started, I joined a pack of runners who jumped ahead of the rest of the athletes. As we stumbled around in the darkness, trying not to miss the trail, we chatted a little bit about who we were and where we were from.
Anything to take our minds off the ultra-marathon we had just started
My new friend with the advice about not needing to drink any water shared a little more information with the rest of us: “This is my first ultra-marathon,” he commented, “I’m just hoping I can finish in 13 hours.”
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If it wasn’t so cold I would have stopped dead in my tracks.
I had just accepted advice from a newbie. A novice. A person who sounded like they had great insight — but without any real experience and wisdom.
WHAT SOUNDED LOGICAL TO ME AT THE TIME IS SOMETHING THAT YOU KNOW IS ABSOLUTELY DEAD WRONG.
Why? Because I was confused and tired and scared at the moment — and he sounded confident. I was willing to buy into this theory that “you don’t need water when it’s cold outside”.
I believed it. I wanted to believe it. I accepted it as truth. And it was going to cost me.
Unfortunately, that sort of advice isn’t relegated to my running. It’s all over the internet, packed into books and webinars, courses, coaching, and countess video programs you buy.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of blindly following other people’s advice, hoping that it’s better than what you’ve been doing thus far.
When you are already tired and frustrated by what is going on in your life, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that someone else’s advice will get you to where you want to be better and faster than what you are already doing.
In your state of frustration and hopelessness, you can injure yourself irreparably.
You can too easily waste time, money, and precious resources making mistakes that will stop you from achieving the success you so desperately want for yourself.
Here are a few of those mistakes to avoid.
- It’s a mistake to not put in enough effort to achieve your goals. The grind is what leads to glory. You have to pay the price.
- It’s a mistake to play it safe. Progress is the prize of the courageous.
- It’s a mistake to chase what is easy, fast, or free. It’s an automatic shortcut to a dead-end. Every time. Guaranteed.
- It’s a mistake to think that you can achieve success without massive amounts of sacrifice. Enough said.
- It’s a mistake to not ask for help. There are others willing and able to help you get to where you want to be.
- It’s a mistake to expect other people to care more about your success than you do. It’s on you to stay motivated.
- It’s a mistake to look at failure as anything other than a learning experience. You can’t level up without failing along the way.
- It’s a mistake to expect that the details of your life’s mission can be managed by others. Nope. You have to be the one working that out.
- It’s a mistake to not listen to what isn’t said. Your chance at breakthrough is often found in the silence of what others are afraid to tell you.
- It’s a mistake to let bad times cause you to lose sight of the big picture. You are going to make it. Keep fighting.
- It’s a mistake to choose more money over a bigger mission. You can make more money doing just about anything. But a mission is priceless.
- It’s a mistake to worry about what other people think about you. What others feel about you is none of your business.
- It’s a mistake to think that you can do anything one time and expect it to be successful — no matter how smart or successful you have already been.
- It’s a mistake to blame other people for your circumstances. It’s a lie that destroys any chance you have of achieving big goals.
- It’s a mistake to forget that everybody is going through something right now. Empathy is your superpower. Try using it.
- It’s a mistake to expect that everybody thinks exactly as you do. They can’t. And won’t. Listen and care.
- It’s a mistake to let your raw emotions drive the decisions that you make. What you feel matters. But sometimes that feeling is self-destructive.
- It’s a mistake to try to be what you think other people want you to be. Be authentic. Care deeply about who you want to be.
- It’s a mistake to spend your emotional energy making sure no one takes advantage of you. Lose the chip on your shoulder.
- It’s a mistake to try to please everyone. Please yourself by leveling up each day. Be a better version of yourself each time you compete.
- It’s a mistake to surround yourself with people who are only as good as you. You get better by learning from better people.
- It’s a mistake to focus on what people say you should be doing. You know what you should be doing. Do that.
- It’s a mistake to refuse to change your mind. Stubbornness is a fire that will burn you in the end. Be open to whatever makes you better.
- It’s a mistake to compare where you are in life to where others seem to be. Looks are always deceiving. Just focus on your own mission.
- It’s a mistake to not be honest with yourself. You can lie to everyone else. But you lose everything when you can’t tell yourself the truth.
- It’s a mistake to believe that perfection is possible. It’s usually just the enemy of you making progress.
The good thing about learning from your mistakes is that no matter how badly you have failed in the past, you can turn things around with a few smart choices.
Ten miles later into my ultra-marathon, I grabbed my water bottle off the ground and finished running.
I ended up finishing in second place overall. A few minutes behind the winner. My friend, with great advice, finished more 8 hours later.
AND I LEARNED A POWERFUL LESSON ABOUT ACCEPTING ADVICE.
It’s easy to assume that the person telling you what to do knows more than you. But maybe they’re just as confused as you are.
Maybe what you’re hearing isn’t what you need to be doing. Maybe it’s time for you to believe a bit more in yourself.
And stop making these mistakes.