332 Miles on Foot

Article by:
Jon Berghoff, EO Speaker
Jon Berghoff
EO Speaker

Jon is the president of Global Empowerment Coaching, a training company that helps entrepreneurs build a world-class sales culture through leadership, sales and peak-performance coaching and keynote messages. Watch videos from Jon’s run at www.400milerun.com or e-mail him at [email protected].

Motivational experts will tell you that if you want to achieve a goal, you should take it one step at a time. When it came to my most recent goal, I took 332 miles worth of them.

On 15 September 2009, I began a journey that forced me to rise above my self-imposed barriers. I decided to run from Washington, D.C., to Cleveland, Ohio, USA, a daunting trip that would take eight and a half days to complete (with periodic breaks). When I finally arrived at my destination, I spoke to EO Cleveland about the experience. I shared what I learned throughout my journey, and more importantly, how thankful I was to still have my feet!

Throughout this event, several members asked me why I’d want to run so far in the first place. I told them that as a peak-performance coach and renegade entrepreneur, I’ve learned to love living life on the edge. When safely used, I’ve found that the “edge” offers gifts for everyone; gifts that teach us to turn pain into profits, problems into breakthroughs and work into play. When I decided my work should involve a 332-mile run, I knew the journey would become my teacher. I wanted to learn from the experience and challenge myself on an entirely new level. Here are a few of the lessons I learned:

Leverage your integrity. We all know the power that comes with gaining clarity toward our goals. And yet, what is often missing is the conversion of a private dream into a public declaration. Prior to my run, I told more than 6,000 people I was going to attempt close to 400 miles. Public commitment closes the door on backing down, giving up or delaying of a dream. Without this commitment, I easily could have rationalized stopping numerous times or not even starting at all.

Reconnect with your purpose. My physical journey stopped at around 72 miles on day two. At that point, the journey became more mental, emotional and spiritual. I reflected that night on why I was making this journey. I remembered the ultimate goal was to give everything I had, to leave nothing on the running trail. The distance was secondary. As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned to fight the trap of getting so caught up in struggle that I forget what I’m struggling for. Instead, I create compelling reasons behind my desired personal or professional outcomes, and I make it a priority to review those reasons with frequency. In essence, they become my fuel.

Embrace mistakes— but only once. Attempting to do what most people would consider impossible, my support team and I agreed ahead of time that we were going to make mistakes along the way— we had to. Without embracing mistakes ahead of time, it would have been far too easy for me to lose my head and for my team to be afraid of making proactive decisions along the way. Throughout the journey, we committed to learning from every mistake, and in turn, made changes to avoid the same mistake twice. In business, I’ve found that this is a staple of any culture that wants to create sustainable growth.

Redefine pain and pleasure. The entrepreneur is the loneliest person on the planet. We take risks, deal with uncertainty and carry the burden of decisions that can profoundly affect others. The greatest tool we have is our ability to shift our focus away from challenges and toward opportunities. We know consciously that every challenge can deliver an opportunity, but finding the gift within every problem is a must in order to create business breakthroughs. When I face a business problem, I schedule a five-minute phone call with someone in my Forum, and I tell them all the benefits that could come out of this problem. It’s shocking what you can discover when you force yourself to look for the gifts!

You are the master of your “microeconomy.” For me, the run was meant to be a metaphor. Regardless of the macroeconomy, entrepreneurs have the choice to shape their “microeconomy.” They can set goals, overcome challenges and solve problems at their choosing. They need permission from nobody to be bold, courageous or successful. Since this long journey, I’ve encouraged my peers to consider what their “400-mile goals” are. I ask them, “What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What dream of yours makes others laugh at you?” I then tell them to take the first step and tell someone … or 6,000. That’s how dreams are realized— one step at a time.


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