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“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

A young lady went home to visit her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She was tired, upset, and annoyed at all these difficulties. Often, she wanted to run away or give up. Her mother listened empathetically, then took the daughter to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and boiled the water.

She then put a carrot in the first pot, an egg in the second pot, and coffee beans in the third pot. After twenty minutes or so, she turned off the fire and put all three items in separate bowls.

She put these three bowls on the dining table and asked her daughter, “What do you see?”

Intrigued, the daughter replied, “A carrot, an egg, and coffee.”

The Museum of Failure is a touring exhibition that features a collection of failed products and services. It was inspired by its founder and curator, Samuel West, ‘s 2016 visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia. The museum first opened on June 7, 2017, in Helsingborg, Sweden. According to the curator, the museum aims to help people recognize that “we need to accept failure if we want to progress” and encourage companies to learn more from their failures without resorting to “cliches.”

The Museum of Failure is a collection of failed innovations that we can learn from – Samuel West, curator and founder of the Museum of Failure

Buddhist meditation teacher and author Michael Stone developed an acronym-based model for working with strong emotions: SAIN 1—Stop, Allow, Investigate, Non-identification.

S: STOP

  • It begins with stopping; how to meet the present moment with stillness without adding anything extra? When the tidal waves come, can you stop?

A: Allow or Accept

  • To allow what’s moving through the body to fully arrive, to really feel it. You can’t allow something into awareness if you can’t stop.

I: investigate.

  • Check it out. How is this showing up? Where is it showing up in my body? Ask every question, but why? Why is an invitation for the storyteller to get involved a move away from the body into abstraction? How to stay with physical sensations?

N: non-identification

  • When you have a stressful emotion show up, and you can stop, know what it is, and be curious about your experience, then you can arrive at the last step, which is to fully become the emotion. The shivering puddle. These steps are not just a way to work with negative emotions but also positive ones. When you’re really excited let the feelings come without identifying with them. Feelings are not I, me, mine. This is a recipe for getting closer and more intimate with experience.

SAIN 2 (in French it means health): Stop, Accept, Investigate, Non-Identification. Stop means recognizing that there’s a mood. Maybe you want to label it. Accept means allowing the mood to be there, instead of pushing it away, or allowing it to overtake you. Investigate means going into the body and seeing where the sensations are. What are the exact physical sensations and where are they? Non-identification is about becoming the energy, but not identifying with the energy. This is a practice that can be done anytime, you don’t have to wait for a tsunami of emotion to strike. In fact, without the preparation and steady practice in working with “smaller” moods, it’s hard to deal with the big swings.

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

The Ring Theory is a concept developed by clinical psychologist Susan Silk and her friend arbitrator Barry Goldman. They suggest an approach that helps with not saying the wrong things when trying to support someone dealing with a crisis or in a stressful situation. They site a perfect example of such an unintended insensitive remark in their article:

When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan’s colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn’t feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague’s response? “This isn’t just about you.”

 High-performance coach Brendon Burchard left a corporate consulting job in 2006 because he was not finding fulfilment in the outputs that were being rewarded. He chose to quit and set up his career as a writer, speaker and online trainer. He began creating content to inspire and empower others.

Like a lot of people new to the expert industry, I thought I had to figure out the writing industry, the speaking industry, the online training industry. I made the mistake of going to dozens of conferences to try to figure out each of the industries, without realizing that they all were the same career of being a thought leader and had similar outputs that mattered most.

Brendon made some mistakes starting out such as trying to figure out the industry by attending numerous conferences instead of doing the work and creating quality output. The frustration led to an epiphany which to focus on quality output. He realized that if he was going to become a professional speaker, his PQO would be the number of paid speaking gigs at a certain booking fee.

In his book, Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, American writer  George Leonard describes the learning paths to mastery. He writes: We all aspire to mastery, but the path is always long and sometimes rocky, and it promises no quick and easy payoffs. So we look for other paths, each of which attracts a certain type of person.

The Dabbler, the Obsessive, and the Hacker

SUCCESS makes you fearful, Of losing your place, Of gambling with stature, Of losing your face.

Bracken Darrell is the CEO of VF Corporation, an American global apparel and footwear company. In June 2023, Darrel was appointed CEO of  VF Corp, the parent company of Vans sneakers and Timberland boots. Before his appointment, he was CEO of Logitech, a computer peripherals maker. As the CEO of Logitech, he penned a Seuss-like poem titled “The Secret to Success: Avoid It.” wherein he writes about the pitfalls of success.

In a LinkedIn post about the poem, Darrell quipped:

We all seek success, but the actual experience of thinking you’re successful is potentially performance eroding or even dangerous. That’s true for businesses, teams and us as individuals. In extreme cases, others think you are smarter, more creative, and more often right. You aren’t, of course. You’re the same woman or man as before. 

In the poem, The Secret to Success: Avoid It, Darrell made the following observations about success and failure:

You joined the world naked, Unclothed and unhaired. You started out solo, Crying and scared.

By trial and error, You crawled up and past two, Then learned right through grade school, High School and Big U!

Sometimes you won, Oft you fell down destroyed, Broken and beaten, and, Worse, unemployed.

Sometimes you won, Oft you fell down destroyed, Broken and beaten, and, Worse, unemployed.

From that elevation, You tumbled down far, You rolled, bounced, and crumbled, You damaged your car.

You climbed up again though, Now humbled, strong willed, No, nothing could stop you, Not even a spill.

You learned to keep learning, As you grew older, When you lost you showed grace, You were humbler but bolder.

As the ‘wins’ piled up, A new friend joined you, too, At first you hardly took notice, But SUCCESS grew and he grew.

He praised average comments, Your most awkward charm, He loved all your faults, Like your worst throwing arm.

He praised average comments, Your most awkward charm, He loved all your faults, Like your worst throwing arm.

SUCCESS makes you fearful, Of losing your place, Of gambling with stature, Of losing your face.

So what now my friend, You see what SUCCESS brings, How does one avoid him, Yet accomplish great things?

You’ve got someone to nurture, Still naked, no hair, That someone is yours, ONLY yours, so take care!

One vulnerable child, Lives lifelong in us all, His name is ‘Potential’, He stands ten feet tall.

SUCCESS is wicked, He’s not what he seems, He lunches on goals, For dinner eats dreams.

And I hope if you live To 120 plus 4, You read this each year, Feel it down in your core.

Remember Success Is the wolf in your tale, Live hungry in life, Always learn and please fail.

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Knowing when to quit is as important as having the will to keep pushing when the going gets tough. When you are constantly pushing and challenging yourself beyond your comfort zone, there will be points where you feel you’ve gone beyond your breaking point. Not all quits are created equally, as some quits are needed for your overall well-being, while some quits are just a strategy for your brain to justify your excuses or bullshit. It is not a matter of if it is going to get tough, but would you be able to recalibrate your mind to push through the pain? To be an athlete, you must have a higher pain tolerance than non-athletic minds. It is tough training for endurance sports such as marathons, triathlons, ultramarathons and ironmans.

One of the hallmarks of highly successful people and athletes is going the extra mile. To get the results that the most admired people eventually get, one needs to be somewhat obsessed, dedicated and all in. The top 1% in any society are the people who usually give their all, create their luck, consistently show up daily and embrace the struggle. Knowing the difference between addictions, obsessions, compulsions, and dependencies is very important on the path to becoming successful. I have participated in and finished 15 full marathons in the past two years. I trained consistently to achieve my target goals. Knowing the difference is becoming more critical as there is usually a line between the four terms.

lanre-dahunsi-marathon-may-2023

Schema Therapy 1 is an integrative model of psychotherapy developed by American psychologist and founder of the Schema Therapy Institute, Jeffrey E. Young that combines proven cognitive and behavioural techniques with other widely practiced therapies. The main goals of Schema Therapy are to help patients strengthen their Healthy Adult mode, weaken their Maladaptive Coping Modes so that they can get back in touch with their core needs and feelings, heal their early maladaptive schemas to break schema-driven life patterns, and eventually to get their core emotional needs met in everyday life.


The 18 Early Maladaptive Schemas are self-defeating, core themes or patterns  that we keep repeating throughout our lives.

In their book, The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion, sports psychologist Dr. Simon Marshall and his wife, World Triathlon Cross Championships Lesley Paterson, describe our self-judgment system using a tree metaphor. The tree comprises a deep root (self-worth), a sturdy trunk (self-esteem), a thick branch (self-confidence) and leaves (self-efficacy).

Our self-judgment systems are hierarchical. The deeper the problem, the more you’re f*cked.

the-brave-athlete

Self-worth – deep roots.

Your self-worth is based on deeply held feelings about your value and worth as a person. It is not about what you do but who you are—your values, morals, passions, and fundamental beliefs about yourself. The extent to which your emotional and psychological needs were met as a kid largely determines your self-worth.

From a young age, we start to express psychological and emotional needs that we are highly motivated to meet: the need for love, security, safety, affirmation, belonging, and so on. If these needs are not met, we try to figure out why. Because our young brains are not capable of analyzing the causes logically and exhaustively, our focus often turns inward. We start to blame ourselves, and the conclusions we settle on are pretty damning: We are not good enough, not worthy enough, not competent enough, and so on. After all, why else would we not get attention, get rejected, or not feel encouraged or protected?

The end result is usually the same: I must be a bad person of little value. The seeds of low self-worth take root. These biased beliefs grow and infect our adult brain like viruses.

A healthy self-worth means that you know your life is valuable and important and that you are loveable. Because self-worth is a relatively stable characteristic of our personality and it affects virtually every self-perception we have, changing it often requires the help of a mental health professional.

Self-esteem – sturdy trunk

Self-esteem is the trunk of the tree because it supports everything above it. Just as a bad root system (low self-worth) can’t create a healthy tree trunk (self-esteem), strong self-esteem is required to support self-confidence (the tree branches). It’s extremely rare to find athletes who are supremely confident but have low self-esteem.

Self-esteem reflects generalized emotional judgments about yourself based on what you believe you’ve experienced, achieved, or accomplished. These “achievements” can be real and tangible (e.g., you’ve done well at school, at work, in sports, etc.) or they can be imagined (e.g., you’ve been told that you’re successful).

Self-confidence  – thick branches

Because self-confidence is defined by your perception of your ability, it has a future orientation and predicts what things people will attempt. Self-confidence is the first area in which your self-judgment system can appear differentiated, meaning that you can have strong and weak branches on the same tree. You can have high self-confidence in one area of your life but low self-confidence in another area.

“Even though low confidence can affect other aspects of your life, it rarely affects everything if your underlying self-esteem (tree trunk) is healthy. When you lack self-confidence across the board, the problem is most likely low self-esteem.”

Self-efficacy as leaves

Self-efficacy is a task-specific form of confidence. Technically speaking, self-efficacy refers to your beliefs about your capability of producing a very specific level of performance. Because self-efficacy is situation specific, your confidence to execute a given task may vary depending on the circumstances.

“Self-efficacy is about what you think you can do in very specific tasks, not what you can actually do.”

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Self-schema refers to the thoughts people have about themselves in different areas of life—a sort of mental blueprint of who they are, what they can do, and how they think others perceive them. Think of a self-schema as cognitive scaffolding or a self-stereotype—how your thoughts are assembled about aspects of yourself.

“Athletic self-schema is the cognitive scaffolding of thinking and feeling like an athlete.”

You have self-schema about many different spheres of your life—your identity as a romantic partner, as an employee or student, as a parent, a friend, an athlete, or whatever. All these identities feed into your broader “self-concept,” an overall sense of who you are, what your attributes are, and what and why certain things are important to you.

“The strength of your overall self-concept is determined by the relative importance you give to each of your identities.”

the-brave-athlete

Predictably, your individual self-schemas are interconnected—they talk to one another. After all, thoughts and feelings don’t exist in a vacuum. Feeling crappy or amazing about one aspect of your life can contaminate your other identities. It’s quite unusual to find athletes who suffer from self-schema knots in only one aspect of their lives. This is actually good news because it means that improving the way you think and feel about yourself as an athlete can have a positive knock-on effect in other areas of your life too.

Your athletic self-schema develops from memories of your experiences but is also influenced by expectations of what you think your future self will be like in certain situations. For example, your self-schema as a runner would likely be strong if you ran track and cross-country in college, but you might also have a basic self-schema of being a triathlete even if you’ve never been one. Why? Because you know the discipline and commitment needed to be an athlete and you currently swim and bike to keep fit. In areas where you have little or no experience or you’re simply indifferent, you might have no schema at all.

Your self-schema shapes your expectations of what you think you can do, what you attempt and persist at, how you explain your success and failure, and how you want others to see you in certain areas of life.

Understanding an athlete’s self-schema is important because it helps us make predictions about the sorts of situations that are likely to feel stressful, challenging, and rewarding to you and, critically, what things we need to focus on to help you improve confidence and grit, take responsibility, and learn acceptance skills (“owning it”). This means that building a mature athletic identity requires that your athletic self-schema is relatively free of bugs and gremlins.

Your athletic identity is not about your speed, placings, leanness, or amount of training. A mature athletic identity is simply a special configuration of thoughts about emotions.

Athletic Identity

Athletic identity is all about thinking and feeling like an athlete. Athletic identity has nothing to do with how fast you are, how much racing you do, or how much you train. Although these details can all be signs of having a mature athletic identity, they’re certainly not required. We develop our inner and outer athletic identities when we do endurance sports—we learn skills and techniques, we develop fitness, and we interact with fellow athletes. A sign that our internal athletic identity is maturing is our use of the sport to define our athleticism. I’m a triathlete. I’m a CrossFit® athlete. I’m a runner. A sign that our outer athletic identity is getting stronger comes when we notice others are calling us that too.

“Changing your self-schema is an inside-to-out strategy (targeting thoughts to change feelings to change actions)”

lanre-dahunsi-marathon-infographics

Personal Experience: My Marathon Journey

I started my marathon running adventure in 2013 after losing my closest cousin, and I was looking for an outlet for the pain, grief and disillusionment I was experiencing in that period of my life. I stumbled upon a marathon race in two months and participated in much training. My time for my first marathon was 5 hours plus, and it was tough, even brutal, at the time. I ran, walked, limped, but I ultimately finished. In the past ten years, I have since run 25+ full marathons, with fifteen full marathons finished in the past two years. I ran six full marathons in 2022 and nine full marathons in 2023. My journey to developing my Athletic Identity and Self-schema has not been smooth. It has been filled with ups and downs, self-doubt, failures, dejection, triumphs, insights, personal records and self-confidence.

One of the identities that I have developed in the past ten years that I am most proud of is being a reader (life-long learner) and a runner. I run multiple marathons yearly, not because I have to but because I love the lessons I learn and the person I am becoming as a result of participating in these marathons. I have learned more from my ten years of experience running marathons than my over 3 decades of formal schooling. Marathon running has helped me become more precise in my self-schema, and developing an identity as an athlete and go-getter makes it worthwhile.

personal-best-regina-marathon

I reduced my full marathon personal best time from 3 hours 44 minutes to 3 hours 20 minutes last year at the 2023 GMS Queen City Marathon in Regina, Saskatchewan. It was a great moment, as I had been training hard before breaking my record. I had logged 108 hours of cross-training time in the gym and also ran almost every day in July covering a distance of 809 KM. By breaking this record, I had a renewed resolve that I could achieve anything that I set my mind to do.

One of the great lessons learned from running multiple marathons is the value of hardwood and preparation. As the saying goes, you can outplay your training. We play the way we train. The marathon is a great metaphor for life as your input ultimately determines your output. If you training at a sub-3 hours marathon time in training, executing during race day is not going to be hard. By running these multiple marathons, I have a clear self-schema that makes me believe I could run a time that I have trained for and can execute,

Since breaking the sub-3:30 marathon time, I have run three full marathons with great times:

My self-schema is changing because I am putting in the work. I intend to run a sub-3-hour marathon time in 2024. I know it will be tough, but I know what to do. Put in the same amount of time, energy, commitment, and dedication as I did in reducing my personal best by 24 minutes in 2023. Remember where I started in 2013, not athletic to clocking 854 hours of training time in 2023. It took over a decade to define my self-schema and develop my athletic identity.

The story’s moral: You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. To achieve any goal whether it is running a marathon, writing a book, learning a foreign language, becoming financially independent or learning a programming language, one has to keep pushing and never doubt yourself. To achieve my sub-3 hour marathon goal, I will have to recalibrate my self-schema as someone who can run a sub-3 hour marathon.

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

The 20 Mile March is a concept popularized by author Jim Collins in his book, Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. Collins remarked that enterprises that prevail in turbulence self-impose a rigorous performance mark to hit consistently—like hiking across the United States by marching at least 20 miles daily. The march imposes order amidst disorder, discipline amidst chaos, and consistency amidst uncertainty. The 20-mile march works only if you hit your march year after year; if you set a 20-mile march and then fail to achieve it, you may well get crushed by events.

Just for Today” is one of the strategies used by many twelve-step programs. Twelve-step programs are mutual aid programs which support recovery from substance, and behavioral addictions. The Twelve-step method is a roadmap for those seeking recovery from addictions such as alcoholism, drugs, sex, pornography, eating disorders, codependency, relationship problems, smoking, debt, work, gambling, spending, and technology addiction etc. “Just for Today” is a set of daily meditations, and reflections for people dealing with various addiction and it meant for them to focus on their recovery one day at a time.

A Taoist story tells of an old man walking along a riverbank. The river was swift, and powerful rapids led to a tall waterfall just downstream. Suddenly, the man stumbled and fell into the river and was swept up by the powerful currents. 

Onlookers watched with horror, worried for the man’s life as he was carried downstream and over the edge of the waterfall. They rushed to the edge of the cliffs and peered down. To their astonishment, the old man stood on the rocky banks at the bottom of the falls. He was soaked from head to toe but unharmed and had an unassuming smile.