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The Dip is Real

Photo Credit: Emma Simpson

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Missoula, MT- A funny thing happened this morning. I was running in the River City Roots 4-Mile Run and realized how similar it was to how life works - both personally and professionally.

Like any project you start or new journey you begin, there was a lot of excitement at the starting line. I felt good. The weather was perfect for running- about 60 degrees and overcast.

The gun went off and I took off. Probably way too fast. I was eager to get going. Did I mention that I felt really good? This is how a lot of us feel when we start something new. Eager. Excitement. Lot's of energy and positivity.

Feeling Good

One mile down. I'm still feeling good. Breathing kind of hard for only a mile but not worried about it.

Mile 2. More of the same. I remember thinking that I was passing more people than were passing me. Definitely an improvement over the Bloomsday race I ran in Spokane back in May.

Hitting the Wall?

Then it hit me. Right around the 2-1/2 mile mark (according to my phone's GPS I had already run 3-1/2 miles- not a good thing psychologically to find out it was that far off).

At this point, I didn’t feel so good anymore. I was getting tired. The psychological part was the worst. One voice saying to walk for a bit; another saying suck it up.

Then I realized this was “the dip.” Something I’ve heard Seth Godin and others who have participated in his altMBA talk about.

More on The Dip here.

Experiencing The Dip

This was it. I was in the middle of a dip. I could have walked. Sure. That would have been the easy route. However, I didn’t drive 2-1/2 hours from Spokane to Missoula to walk in a race I had spent months training for.

Then I thought to myself “I’m not trying to finish first but I am trying to finish with a time of under 9 minutes per mile.”

That was my objective coming into the race. It was a stretch given I haven’t completed a training run under that pace since I started running again in January.

Ignoring Your Self

That’s what I set out to do and I thought about how awful I’d feel the rest of the day after the race, knowing I could have pushed through the dip. Knowing that I could have dug in for 9 to 10 more minutes.

Like the projects we work on, there’s an end. They don’t go on forever.

At that moment, I settled into a pace, dug in and thought about what Seth Godin has said about enrollment and grit. I was enrolled and this is what grit looks like.

When I could see and hear the finish I dug deeper and found a different gear, a gear I didn't think existed 2 minutes before. I started passing people again and crossed the finish line with a time of 32 minutes, 50 seconds. A pace of 8:13 minutes per mile.

I crushed my objective. Physically I felt pretty bad. Mentally I felt awesome. An hour later I felt mentally and physically great. Glad I had pushed through the temporary dip. The psychological hurdle.

Never Give Up, Regret is a Bitch

The point of this story is that the things you do professionally or personally aren’t marathons although they may seem like it. Life doesn’t go on forever. Most of what we do is in small chunks. Take each chunk and fully engage. Dig in. Find out what it means to truly enroll, to have grit. If you do this enough, it will become the norm. You'll be able to do so much more than you ever thought.

The Dip almost always happens right before things turn around.

That business idea you had? The one you gave up on when you hit The Dip? When it felt like momentum had waned. When you started to question yourself. The project that seems to be stuck.

Had you dug in and pushed through The Dip, the momentum you needed was probably right around the corner. Find your grit because you certainly don't want to find regret instead.

You may not finish first, but that was never the objective in the first place.