What are you capable of giving?
Sprinting has never been my thing.
In gym class, back in junior high, I was the asthmatic kid with gigantic glasses wheezing at the back of the class.
When it was time to choose the players for your soccer league or track team?
Yeah. Franz was gonna get picked last.
Flash-forward twenty years or so. Interval training at the gym. Ninety seconds of full-out sprinting. Wall to wall, back and forth, fast as you can. That’s what the instructor commands.
I notice, immediately, that I am significantly slower than the other two women in my group.
I don’t feel bad about it, but I quickly begin making up “stories” about it.
“Oh, she looks like a marathon runner. No wonder she’s faster than me.”
“Is that woman one of the trainers here? Probably. I bet she runs for a living.”
“She’s got one of those ‘runner’s bodies’. No wonder she’s so fast.”
First interval: over. Me? Last place.
Few minutes later? Time to sprint again.
This time, I decide to tell myself a different story.
“I bet I can keep up with those two other women. I’ll try to keep pace with them. I can do it!”
Ninety seconds burn by. Second interval: over. Me? Last place again.
This cycle repeats for a couple more rounds. I can’t help it — I begin to feel discouraged.
Annoyed for being so slow. Annoyed that I can’t seem to run faster no matter what kind of story I tell myself. Annoyed at myself for caring so much.
We begin again.
No trying to “keep up.”
These are the final ninety seconds of class. I’m exhausted and teetering on wobbly legs. Suddenly, I don’t care what the “other people” are doing with their minds or bodies.
I care about one thing.
“What am I capable of giving — in this moment?”
Not them. Me.
The clocks starts.
I give it… everything.
My genuine, absolute, for-real-this-time best effort.
Turns out, my “personal best” is a lot better than I thought.
Turns out, I have a lot more to give than I thought.
I won that round — by a ton. Dashing ahead of the other people in my group like Flo-Jo at the Olympics.
Except it wasn’t about “winning” or “competing” anymore.
It was about giving.
When it comes to your business, your writing, your body, or your body of work, there are always going to be people sprinting ahead of you and lagging behind you. Doesn’t matter.
Obsessing over them — and making up stories about them — is just a way of diverting your focus and energy away from where it needs to be.
(This is a lesson I keep forgetting — and re-learning.)
“Other people” are not your competitors and they are not your concern.
Your only concern is what you can give.
You. Right now.
What are you capable of giving today?
It’s more than you think.