Goodbye Dallas, Thank You For Letting Me Fail and Learn

On the morning of February 2nd 2016 I took my first steps in Dallas, at the Winspear Opera House for a We Run Big D workout. I moved to Dallas for my first job out of college, a city and state I had never visited, and my perception was clouded with stereotypes (some I found to be true, but most not). I felt comfortable moving to Dallas because I saw that there was a November Project pledge. I knew I could plug into a group to make friends and be held accountable, making this north easterner more willing to move to the deep south.

I had never pictured myself as a possible co-leader of November Project, but for some reason, Manny asked me to co-lead with him. Thinking of some of the greats that introduced me to the movement. I didn’t feel like I lived up to their aura, didn’t have the personality, or the clout to be a co-leader. But after three years of striving to be the best co-leader I could be, here I am writing this blog to thank Dallas for the opportunity to grow, fail, and learn; and hopefully I helped you on your journey. The past three years have been amazing and I wanted to possibly share something that I learned along the way from you. I failed, I learned, I succeeded, I took steps back, I moved forward, I had difficult times, and I had some of the best experiences of my life while leading. I feel that all of these lessons can be summed up in one phrase: be humble.

I am not saying you can’t brag about your recent PR, you’ve earned that brag… for a bit. Then go conquer your next challenge. Here is how I perceive the lesson of being humble applies to November Project as a leader and as a member, to athletic endeavors, and ultimately to life.

-Trust the process – We don’t become athletes overnight, we don’t wake up consistently for a 6:00 am workout in a month, and friends are not made instantly. We will all have setbacks on our journeys, it may break us, it will humble us, but it is all part of the process. This will make you stronger and more likely to succeed if you learn, persevere, and are humble.

-Be ready for change – If you want to achieve something bigger better than what you have done before, something that is uncommon, or achieve a certain standard… You cannot be ordinary. You need to go the extra mile for that new job, to make the top boat, or to complete an Iron Man. Doing what you have done has gotten you to the point you are at now, but you want to go further. You must be humble and realize that what you have done in the past will not get you to achieve your new goals, you need to change to achieve the extraordinary by being extraordinary.

-Be receptive to feedback – Feedback can come in direct or indirect ways. Feedback can come in the way of not achieving your goal at a race, people not bought into a project you are undertaking, or someone can directly tell you. Giving feedback can be just as difficult as receiving it, it can be a delicate dance. But ultimately whether you agree or not with the feedback there is likely some level of truth to it, and something you can learn from it; because if one person feels this way there are likely others that feel the same. I have received feedback numerous times throughout my life; some I believe was unfounded at the time, and some enlightened me to a perspective I didn’t take into account before. I took something away from each piece of feedback, some of them I didn’t want to hear at the time, but in the long run I am thankful for these people. Because ultimately, these people wanted me to achieve greater things and to succeed. Be humble and accept and be thankful for all feedback; because, it will ultimately help make you a better person and the person giving you the feedback just wants you to succeed.

-Respect the distance – As part of November Project we preach “race everything” and I love seeing people take on challenges they previously have never done. Inevitably as one person posts about signing up from some race many others follow suit and I love this; this is usually months to a year before the race. Then inevitably life gets in the way, circumstances change, our passions shift, and the thought of training takes a back seat. For some they may still be able to finish these races in good order; however, for most we can’t. For some, the distance may not be fully respected causing one to think the jump from a half to a full is the same as the jump from a 5K to a 10K etc. But as we reach these new distances, we need to respect their distances, and learn how a marathon works different systems than a half marathon. When we don’t respect these distances, ultimately we fail, and it will humble us, but if it were as simple as signing up for a race then there would be little sense of pride at the finish line.

– Be realistic – Moon shots are what captivate an audience, are what inspire the world, what motivates the masses, but with every moon shot there are countless unrecognized small achievements along the way. It isn’t realistic to drop larges amount of time off your PR to achieve that BQ, but that doesn’t mean that over the course of time with consistent hard work it won’t happen. There are too many times we get disheartened as a race didn’t go the way we had intended. Yes, race day can be the culmination of our training plan, but we also must realize that it is one data point that we are assessing our fitness with; instead of looking at the 100s of data points that we had during our training to assess our fitness. Race day, just like any other workout, is ultimately one day which numerous factors (not excuses) can impact our performance and is not the end all be all in determining our fitness. So, don’t walk away from running and fitness because one day didn’t go the way you planned. Do a post mortem and see where it went wrong and where you can improve. Be humble, be realistic, one day doesn’t define us and set small goals on the trajectory for that moon shot.

– Ask for help – We all have rough spots in our life, we all go through periods where we are lost. And some of the hardest words to say are “I need help”. We by our nature like to handle problems internally, and struggle to admit that things are not going the way we hope and want. At these times it can seem like it all is cascading down and everything is failure. Reaching out to a friend for help can help put new perspective on your plight, possible solutions to your struggles, or maybe just a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen. Never underestimate the power of voicing your struggles to someone else. Be humble, ask for help.

– Everyone has lessons we can learn from – It does not matter if you are a co-leader or a newbie or a countless marathoner or doing your first 5k. Listen to others as we can learn from one another, do not write them off because you are “faster” or have more “experience” because lessons can come from countless areas of life and be applied to many different situations. Be humble and listen to others because we never know what lessons lie in store.

– Own up to mistakes – We all make mistakes, and what separates ordinary people from successful people is learning and taking ownership for mistakes. Some mistakes are easy to see and who is at fault is simple to identify, but many are not. When we do make a mistake, we should own up to them and learn from them. Not only is this a good practice for yourself, but it can set an example to others about learning from and taking ownership for mistakes. I can’t tell how many times I stood in front of you and said I messed up in explaining/planning the workout, the bounce, or forgot the SD card. Me saying this and owning up to my mistake to the group was me apologizing and saying to you I will make a better effort next time. Be humble, we all make mistakes, own up, admit to them, learn, say you are sorry, and move forward.

-It takes a village – No one person can do everything great, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Share your strengths, realize your weaknesses, and ask others to share their strengths. Be grateful for these opportunities to learn from others and the sharing of their talent. November Project would not be possible without the sharing of talents that happens in every city. Be humble, thank others for sharing their talents, share your talents, and realize where your strengths and weaknesses are.

Yes, I did not live up to all of these points, but as I previously stated I tried, I failed, I learned, and I moved forward. Failures do not define us as long as we learn and move forward from them.

In November Project, like athleticism, you ultimately get what you put into it. If you put your heart and soul into it, be consistent, challenge yourself to be better, give back to the sport and city, and carry yourself with humility and an open mind you will be paid in spades. You will meet some of the most wonderful people, you will have countless memories, travel to new places, and achieve things you previously didn’t comprehend. Enjoy the process and the journey.

I had countless amazing moments as a co-leader and I can’t keep track of them. There were many moments that impacted me as a leader: becoming a November Project city, being asked to be one of the cities for the Sunrise 6K Brooks’ hype video, co-lead with my best friend, our marathon cheer station and participants, and especially the weather proof workouts. However, these two moments stuck with me long after the fact and I felt were unique compared to experiences at other cities.

-On September 9th of this year we did a 9/11 memorial workout on our stair Monday workout. Our staircase is 56 stairs and the height of the original World Trade Center was 1980 stairs. Which meant you needed to perform 36 laps up and down the stairs to complete the height of the World Trade Center in 40 minutes. This was a challenge, upwards of 12+ minutes for top end athletes if you were to only go up, but the city took it on. Jake and I shouted to people if they were on pace or not as they rattled off their lap number. At 20:00.5 Norma came up and said 13, halfway, just off pace, Jake and I told her she was almost on pace. Norma found another gear and finished, with seconds to spare, all 36 laps. The elation and sense of accomplishment I could see on her face was like nothing I had ever experienced at November Project and one of my proudest moments.

-At Summit 6 November Project Dallas rolled so deep that we had more people at the Summit workout than our Dallas Friday workout. We entered 9? relay teams, and as the last finisher Ginger approached the finish line, we all joined her and crossed the line as one! This was the culmination, in my mind, of three years of work building a community in Dallas which was close knit and wanted to cross the line as one with Ginger. We also got a special shout out from November Project leadership for this moment. Can’t wait to see you all in Vegas for Summit!

November Project Dallas is not only the city I co-led, but it is the city where I spent the most time as a member of a November Project group. I have meet and became friends with people I would have never met had it not been for November Project. I took on challenges which only November Project could have led me to… a lost bet and a half marathon 2 days later, 41 day marathon training, trail racing, stair climbing, and relay racing. Thank you again for the lessons you taught me, the opportunity to co-lead, the ability to fail, and the experiences we shared. I am a better person from these past three years and forever grateful. I had countless reservations about Dallas before moving, and I thought it would just be a short stint, but the people of November Project Dallas made it feel like home. The city has a special place in my heart, and I am forever grateful for y’all. See you in Vegas, and you always have a place to stay in England with me.



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