Shake it up. Practice. Grow.
It’s been two years since I ran and—I would like to point it out—completed my first and only marathon: the New York City Marathon. It was 2016, and the 5 hours and 55 minutes of pure adrenaline mixed with suffering from an injured knee will remain forever etched in my memory. At least until I run the next race. Yes, because sooner or later, even at eighty years old, there will be a second time.
My experience with running helped shape the concept of Comfort Zone Shake-Up. And it is with the dual perspective of one who, until a few years ago, had not run more than five kilometers (or three miles) in one training session and one who has now run and completed the New York City Marathon that I write these lines.
Whether you have never run more than 30 seconds in your life—maybe to chase the bus or the cat—and you have no intention of starting in the near future, or your life is literally devoted to the race, the invitation here is to go deeper than the surface. The invitation is to reflect on the value of the race.
The race is a perfect metaphor to describe the approach on which Comfort Zone Shake-Up is based, which I summarize in these words: Shake it up. Practice. Grow.
Shake it Up
I grew up with a conflictual relationship with running.
I studied ballet for over twenty years, and at that time, running was experienced as an activity to be avoided carefully. The approach did not change when I left dance to teach aerobics and all the disciplines associated with it at the gym.
Then I grew up and I started working. I started traveling (a lot) for work and pleasure. I started not having time for the routine of classes to teach or to participate in at the gym or ballet studio. Conditions had changed, and I needed a new filter to evaluate unproven activities. I needed a shake-up.
In the “HOW” of Comfort Zone Shake-Up, I mentioned to you that a shake-up means “a radical reorganization.” It means restructuring, reorganizing, renewing, changing, innovating, transforming, redesigning, improving, increasing.
At some point in my life I had a shake-up and I started running.
Creating a shake-up, deciding to start running, deciding to do anything else other than what we are used to doing, deciding to do something new, means to question ourselves. It means not taking for granted that life flows without interruption and without the possibility of intervention to change the course, that things must necessarily be seen from a single point of view, and that we must continue to do things the same way because it’s always been like that.
Creating shake-ups means questioning ourselves on things, from the most banal to the maximum systems. It means to look closely at them and rediscover or change their meaning. Creating shake-ups means exploring, innovating, looking at everything with new eyes. It means opening up to the new, opening up to what we do not necessarily know well.
To have a shake-up, we need a good dose of positive attitude. We started talking about how to acquire, develop, or maintain a positive attitude in life in the article dedicated to “The Greatest Showman.” With our first challenge, we tested a way to start the day well with music, a very powerful and often underestimated instrument to work on yourself and your positive attitude. There is a playlist available on Spotify.
In our process of change, a positive attitude is as indispensable as the air we breathe, and the first step, we now know, is a shake-up. But what else do we need?
Practice, training, exercise. No matter what definition you use, the second important element of Comfort Zone Shake-Up is based on the premise of practicing something other than what we are used to doing, on practicing something new. Without practice, you do not go anywhere. Nothing is achieved without training. It’s not possible to improvise.
The even more important message is that we must not panic, we must not be discouraged, we must not give up something new that we care about very much just because the first few times make us feel uneasy, not up to the challenge, outside our comfort zones.
And here the metaphor of the race is useful: there are no sudden marathon runners. You do not wake up one morning and run the New York City Marathon. We can use all our enthusiasm, close our eyes and let ourselves be transported by the crowds at the edge of the road. We can start well and even keep a smile for the first few miles, but without a good preparation, before the end of the race you will almost certainly pay a heavy price.
The traditional way of talking about our Comfort Zone, saying that “life begins outside the Comfort Zone,” makes me think of a marathon for which we are not prepared.
Running means establishing a dialogue with ourselves between our minds and our bodies. It means starting a path that can push us to the limit of our possibilities, even starting from just one slow mile. Running means training day after day to improve, grow, and expand your Comfort Zone.
This is the last element of the Comfort Zone Shake-Up. We have just called it into question growth, development, expansion of the Comfort Zone. An organic, structural, profound growth. Growth based on a routine. Growth based on everyday life. Constant growth.
Comfort Zone Shake-Up and its approach, that life begins inside our Comfort Zone, makes me think of a race (it could be a 5K, a 10K, a half-marathon, or a marathon) for which we are well prepared.
Winning is not the important thing. What matters is to fully enjoy the adventure. The colors, the sounds, the people on the street that applaud, encourage us, smile at us. And then again the dialogue with ourselves that is so important and that accompanies us throughout the duration of the race.
The value of my New York City marathon is in the Comfort Zone Shake-Up
I started my first training in the cold January of 2015 with the group “Team for Kids” and their fantastic coaches. Apart from a few races in Milan, I had not done much running. I had moved to America less than a year prior and worked like crazy among three continents and three time zones.
Among my New Year’s resolutions for 2015, I aspired to a better balance between my work and my personal life, and above all, a return to a good training regimen, an important consideration after all the hours I spent sitting at work.
On January 10, 2015, I ran my first two miles outdoors. In March 2015, there was my first half-marathon. Between 2015 and 2016, I ran a total of seven half-marathons. On November 6, 2016, I was among the 51,392 total finishers of the 46′ New York Marathon. Between January 10, 2015 and November 6, 2016 there was a lot of practice. Hours, days, and months of training.
As human beings, we have great power, and it’s all in our hands.
I created Comfort Zone Shake-Up because I believe in the power we have to grow and improve. I believe in the ability of each of us to shape our lives. I believe that today there is a need to share a message of strong and positive possibilities.
Choose your race.
Shake it up. Practice. Grow. Three small steps for a big change.