Por Jorge Manuel Zelaya Fajardo
“You don't have to be the best, the fastest, or the strongest climber to reach the top of the mountain.
You just have to be absolutely unstoppable to put one foot in front of the other.”
- Alison Levine, Climber who reached the 7 highest peaks in the world and the two poles.
These words have a purpose. I am fascinated by the idea of you discovering the purpose before reaching the end of the essay.
100 days have just passed since the moment the quarantine began in my country due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. The virus (SARS CoV 2), which causes COVID 19 disease, has forced economies in most countries of the world, including mine, to close (or at least substantially reduce) their normal activities, a lockdown that can will guarantee isolation or social distancing that will generates a real (or at least expected) reduction in the virus’ spread.
Amid the pain for those killed by the virus, the pain for the suffering of their families, the tireless fight of ALL the people who protect our health in the front line of work, the inevitable feeling of fear and uncertainty arises for those of us who remain in lockdown. Suddenly I found myself and my family at home all the time. My ventures began to reduce their revenue significantly and we cannot go outside to meet with close family and friends.
However, from the first day of the quarantine I made a decision ( Actually it was made it a few days before). I did not want confinement to taste like vacations (It goes without saying that every entrepreneur knows that if there is no income there is no operation). And I made a decision that seeing it in retrospect today, it has been one of the best decisions of my life (even in the midst of a pandemic ... or perhaps thanks to it).
The decision was to train in physical exercise in my house during the time that I was locked up. I decided that I was not going to allow negative thoughts to seduce me not to exercise. The decision was made due to a mixture of survival, challenge and habit. It seems important to mention that I was already training in the gym before the pandemic occurred, so there was already a precedent.
But what happened is really inexplicable to me. Today I have completed 100 days in a row of exercising without interrupting a single day. That includes Sundays, Easter holiday, days with the flu or without any motivation to do so. NEVER in my life, nor when I trained to run my first 21k or even my 42k I trained for 100 days in a row. Now, I do not write these lines to feed my ego with the applause of what has been achieved. My ego could be significantly reduced if my coach carefully reviewed my App ( what I call the 5 sheets of stapled bond paper that are placed on a table with a pencil, where I religiously write what I do every day.)
Personally, I think there are three great lessons learned from these 100 days.
LESSON # 1: GET SOMETHING POSITIVE OUT OF SOMETHING NEGATIVE.
From the quotes of the statesman Winston Churchill to the actions of the scientist Isaac Newton, from the testimonies of cancer survivors to entrepreneurs from all latitudes, we can see clear examples that people can get the something out of a crisis. However, for some reason we think that only applies to great achievements or particularly important goals. In these 100 days I have learned that small and simple things can generate high impact if they are done with love, passion, discipline and focus on the goal. My achievement is not really the best of results in terms of muscle mass in the biceps, triceps, shoulder, or abdomen. But now I can preach something that I practice and not the other way around. Luck (defined by when opportunity intersects with ability) may have played a favorable role for me in these 100 days. I had good luck because a friend loaned me the weights, because my house has room to exercise, I didn't have to travel for work or because I didn't get sick from the virus. It could be. However, I wanted my goal to be working on what I could control and not relying on luck.
We can ALL take something positive out of a crisis.
LESSON # 2: THE HABIT IS THE FOUNDATION OF THE BUILDING OF OUR LIVES
My fascination with the scientific study of habits, was born in the 1990s with Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of the Highly Effective People, to the point of learning directly from him personally, when I attended one of his seminars. Since then I have become an avid reader and a voracious student of the subject. I never imagined that with something as insignificant as exercising at home in a pandemic quarantine, I would test myself the habit development theory of 21 days or that of 66 days (University College of London) to develop a habit. Today I have done for 100 days and it is no longer acceptable for me to stop doing it.
We can ALL develop good habits even in crisis.
LESSON # 3: I AM 101% CONVINCED THAT IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO BE EFFECTIVE THAN EFFICIENT
A few years ago, I proposed a formula for everyone who attended my classes, seminars or conferences to learn the term Productivity = Efficiency + Efficacy. Efficiency is defined as the intelligent use of the resources at my disposal: human, technical, financial, time and energy. Efficacy is the achievement of the desired goal. Peter Drucker, the most outstanding management thinker in the last 200 years in my opinion, always pointed out that he would rather be effective than be efficient. Completely agree. My goal was not to stop exercising for a single day for any reason. Some days I had very tough workouts that I never thought would end. And there were days (very few) that the training was only a set of abs. My goal was, at the end of the day, to beat myself every day. I never imagined I would do it for 100 days in a row.
We can ALL achieve goals if we place one foot in front of the other even in crisis.
At first, I stated that these lines had a purpose. The purpose was to demonstrate that small, almost insignificant habits can have an impressive cumulative and catalytic effect in the end. However. right now my mind is wondering: Is it possible that once I have generated this habit of exercising daily, Can I incorporate a new habit on top of it ... like the first floor of the building on top of the foundation? Is it possible to incorporate Kaizen (continuous improvement in Japanese) into the developed habit? I certainly don't know. But I lose absolutely nothing trying.