Success is a slow jog, not a riotous sprint.

By: Chris Taylor, Editor-in-chief of Goose Educational Media


Running my first office was an adventure. Four receptionists, a sales team of eighty-seven and not enough hours in a day. I worked seven-days-a-week, kept the Arby's across the street in business and ran on pure adrenaline for the first six months. Business was spectacular during that time. Then, not so much. It was around that time that I read a book called, “The 9 Levels of Enduring Happiness,” by Matthew Kelly. While the book was enjoyable and made an impact, there was one concept that flipped a switch on my thinking—an idea that's stuck with me for the past six years.

“If you were to buy a million-dollar racehorse,” Kelly asked, “what would you feed it? Would you feed it from the McDonald’s menu every day?"

The answer, I believe, is obvious. When you make a million-dollar investment, you want to do everything in your power to ensure you will get the best possible return on your money. Which is why his next question really hit home, "So, what then is your expected ROI on your own body?"

How much is your body worth? In other words, how much do you expect to earn over the remainder of your life? A million dollars? Five-million? More? The wakeup call for me was understanding that my body and mind are the two most important tools in the measure of my success.

Professional athletes would never consider an all-nighter before a big game. What makes us regular folk any different? The qualitative state of our bodies and minds have a dramatic impact on our own levels of success. Can you still give a presentation on little sleep, empty calories and with a maelstrom of unrelated thoughts racing through your head? Sure you can. Michael Jordan could still throw a three-pointer in that state, too. Just not as well. And after enough games in a less than stellar physical and mental state, he wouldn't be the superstar we know him to be. Perhaps the point worth noting is that the problem isn’t with rare but massive, one-off impacts resulting from lack of attention to your body and mind. It's the little slips, the small missed opportunities that add up to a life of mediocrity. If meditating for twenty minutes each day meant you would eventually receive a cheque for one-million dollars, would you do it? Superstars don't wait to get paid. They take action, then reap the benefits.

In a somewhat more extreme case, the forty pounds I put on that summer by living on fast food was not beneficial to my health. The late nights and early mornings, while busy, were not productive. I was simply jumping from fire to fire, mentally exhausted and running on fumes. To borrow Matthew Kelly's analogy, I was entering my horse in every race I could find, regardless of what the prize was and without giving it proper maintenance between sprints. I burned out, the business tanked and I literally spent six months of the aftermath recovering from borderline exhaustion.

These days, I'm working smart(er). I'm still busy, working long days and some evenings, but I'm making a deliberate choice to take time out for the important stuff. Stuff like time with friends and family, time to cook and enjoy proper meals, time for exercise. I'm nowhere near perfect yet, but I'm making progress. And that's the important part. I'm hyperaware of my own limitations and am consciously working to maximize my productivity during the hours that make sense for me. Of course, there are times when I need to overextend, but they're deliberate choices. And that's the big difference. We needn’t live like monks, but I do believe we all need to step back regularly and evaluate both our impact on the world and the world's impact on us. Life's short enough as it is; there's no need to race faster toward the grave, running races we never should have entered in the first place. Life is a marathon—not a sprint.


Goose logo - full-alt Chris Taylor is editor-in-chief of Goose Educational Media; a company dedicated to simplifying and making actionable the core messages from leading business and personal development books. He writes, speaks and coaches on leadership, time management, communication and accountability.

By Adam

February 10, 2010