It's so easy for us all to get stuck in a groove on the turntable of life, stagnating, but afraid to change the tune and try new things. Maybe we need help persevering or help in overcoming a fear of failure. Or maybe we just need an inspiring example of someone who dove in head first.

Enter star of HGTV's Fixer Upper, Chip Gaines.

The cheery champion with a hammer and his wife, fellow television star Joanna Gaines, recently announced they were hosting the first ever Silo District Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K in their hometown of Waco, Texas. Chip is running in it, too--he decided to attempt the feat after a chance encounter with runner Gabe Grunewald (who has inspired many by continuing to run right through her four bouts with cancer).

Only one problem though--Gaines has never run a marathon.

But he started right in with training and described his early, painful efforts to Runners World with one pearl of wisdom and a couple other gems. Let's start with his one powerful sentence of advice, before moving on to the two other lessons you should learn from Gaines's story:

1. "Never judge your full potential based on your first run."

We're so often so quick to assign failure to ourselves. I can't even count the number of times a coachee of mine came to me convinced that a less than ideal first attempt at something new was a harbinger of future failure.

First attempt and permanent failure have zero correlation.

And the truth is, many of us don't actually have a fear of failure per se, we have a fear of failing the first time we try something. This is a deeply ingrained fear we learned from our early school days, where getting the "right" answer the first time is the only thing that's rewarded in many schools. 

The standard of expecting to get it right the first time is, of course, an unreasonable one (unless you throw knives at magician's assistants for a living). Virtually everyone requires practice and a few failed attempts to get it right. As Thomas Watson Sr. of IBM once said, "The fastest way to succeed is to double your rate of failure."

2. Burn the boats.

When sea-bound Greek armies landed on the shores of their enemies, the first thing they did before preparing for battle was to burn their boats. Suddenly, there was no turning back. You could either press forward to victory, or retreat back and drown in the seas of your fear.

Chip Gaines did exactly this by announcing to the world in January that he was running his first marathon in May.

Really commit when you try something new. Sign up for open mic night before you've written the first word of your stand-up routine, like I once did (the experience became the first time I realized my love of speaking from stage).

Agree to that intimidating project before you've had one ounce of training. Enroll yourself in a recital before you've learned your first note. 

Fear of failure disappears when you realize it can't save you. 

3. Aim high.

Gaines didn't start with a 5K like most people would. He went all in, saying that "Hopefully this all convinces someone else to do something they think is impossible."

There's a similar quote ascribed to another great artist with a hammer, Michelangelo: "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."

When you set out on a new adventure--think big. I didn't just leave the corporate world to write to, speak to, and positively influence friends and family. I left to write best-selling and award-winning books for the masses, speak to thousands at a time from stage, teach at a world-class university, and even to write for Inc.

I humbly share that I've been able to achieve all of this so far. I'm convinced I wouldn't have if I didn't aim high.

So whatever marathon of a challenge you're about to take on, do so with pride and belief that you'll ultimately cross the finish line with arms held high.

Published on: Mar 22, 2018
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