Look Ahead and Never Look Back


I’m actually running on a trail right now as I tape-record my thoughts. It’s interesting that while you’re running along a trail you’re brain has the ability to look ahead and then plan where to place each foot. This seems to happen as an automatic function of the brain. I look ahead on the trail and take in what’s coming, whether it’s a rock or a stump or a curve in the trail. My brain processes that information and tells my body where to place my feet. I don’t have to think about every footstep. It’s an amazing process to me of how, by looking ahead, I know where to put my feet on the trail.

Yes, I’ve slipped up a couple of times and made some mistakes. It usually happens when I take my eyes off the trail and look in some other direction. My brain had insufficient information to tell my feet where to go; therefore I stumble and sometimes fall.

Can we relate this to life? I think so. We can’t just concentrate on what we are doing at the moment. We need to look ahead in our lives and see what’s coming and plan for it so when the time comes we’re ready. We need to process the information ahead of time so when the time comes we already know where to put our feet. The idea or concept is that of making future plans.

I like the idea and have seen benefits of sitting down on Monday morning and looking at my whole week, seeing what’s going on each day and thinking about it and planning ahead. If I see a presentation coming up on Thursday I know I can’t start on that presentation on Thursday. I’ve got to begin preparing and working on it ahead of time.

In this way I think trail running is like life. We need to look ahead and plan in advance in order for our feet to be planted properly in the here and now. You’re todays will go much better when you look ahead at your tomorrows.

The Art of Learning from Our Mistakes

weallmakemistakes.jpgMaking mistakes – yeah, I’ve got it down to an art form. Now if I can make learning from my mistakes an art form that would be something. No promises here but some simple observations about mistakes and how we can learn from them.

Last week I had made the plan to attend an important event early on Friday morning. When I mean early I mean 6 a.m. early! In order for me to be there I would need to get up by 4:30 in the morning, get ready and leave my home by 5:30 to be to the event by 6:00. I’ve done it before and knew what I needed to do to be there.

Well, guess what, I blew it! I didn’t make it and was deeply disappointed in myself. I did what any normal person would do and beat myself up mentally. That’s fine but if I’m going to learn anything from this I’ve got to do more than just mentally beat myself up. I’ve got to analyze the situation, see what I did wrong and then change my ways.

So what went wrong? My big mistake was that I didn’t think or plan ahead. The mistake that I made was deciding to go to a movie the night before. My wife and son pressured me into it. (Placing blame here!) It was a 7:30 p.m. movie that was nearly 3 hours long. When all was said and done I didn’t get to bed until 11:30 p.m. I knew when I went to bed that I was never going make it up by 4:30 a.m. I had already blown it.

My point isn’t necessarily the missing of the event. The point is that we learn from our mistakes. When something goes wrong or something goes haywire and things don’t turn out the way that you planned, look at the situation and figure out why. Analyze it and see what you could have done differently. Why did you mess up? In my particular situation, what happened was that I didn’t think ahead. I went ahead and said, “Yeah, let’s go to a movie.” I should have thought it through and realized that going to a movie at 7:30 in the evening was going to put me to bed too late at night to be able to get up as early as I needed to. So the next time I plan on being somewhere very early in the morning I’ve got to make sure that whatever I do the night before I do early enough that I will get home on time so I can get to bed on time.

There is a great little story I read years ago that fits perfectly here:

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep whole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit…but,
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately,

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

The point is that when something goes wrong in our lives, when we mess up, when we falter, that we look at the situation and analyze it and then make a change. If we are not learning from our mistakes we will keep falling in the same hole.

Thank you.