6 a.m.  I’m on a treadmill in a NYC hotel, minding my business, doing my usual 45 minute workout.  I vary 3 minutes of jogging with 2 minutes of fast walking and deep moaning.

Later, I’ll be speaking at the hotel.  I like to exercise before speaking.  Speaking is a physical event, so warming up is important.  Plus, the more you sweat before an event, the less you sweat during one.

Suddenly, a large man gets on the next treadmill.  I can’t tell how old he is because I can only see him from the side, and because I can’t really tell how old anyone is.

But within seconds, his treadmill is extremely loud, much louder than mine, so he’s obviously going extremely fast, much faster than I am.  When I casually glance over, while pretending not to, I see he’s running 7 minute miles.

I’m tempted to speed up.

His style is unusual.  Bent forward, he clutches the control panel as if, at any second, he expects to be catapulted off the machine, through the wall, and out the building

But still.  He’s running 7 minute miles.

Does competition drive you?  That’s healthy, up to a point—it sparks your performance—but dangerous when your self-esteem gets involved.

You see others out ahead, or at least they seem to be, based on whatever metric you’re using—could be job title, salary, or how fast they’re moving on a NYC treadmill. Do you feel bad by comparison?

Here’s the problem: you lose your center of gravity.

A mentor, years ago, gave me some career advice: Decide where you want to go and how you want to get there. Then, run your own race.

Put another way, right now I’m on my own treadmill, and the other guy is on his, unless he lets go of that control panel and rockets out the building.

I resist the urge to speed up.

Tip: Run your own race.

© Copyright Paul Hellman.  All rights reserved.

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