Monday, February 19, 2018

Strength in Weakness

I would rather get lost than ask for directions, and I’m not alone.  Truth is, many people hate to not only ask for directions, but we tend to avoid asking for help wherever possible. Since our earliest childhood attempts to walk, we’ve been conditioned to be self-sufficient. Many of us view asking for help as a sign of weakness, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Sometimes it’s Easy to Ask
When I started training for my first Ironman triathlon, I had no cycling experience, I couldn’t swim at all, and I had sustained a running injury that led medical professionals to tell me to never run again. Attempting such an endeavor was not only improbable, it seemed impossible.  I couldn’t possibly succeed without help.  I enlisted the help of a tri coach, a separate swim coach, and a nutrition coach. It was pretty obvious I couldn’t do this on my own.  I needed to stand on the shoulders of giants and seek help from those who had gone there before me.

Sometimes it’s Hard to Ask
Things aren’t always that clear.  Just five years earlier, I was overweight with high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high cholesterol, high sugar, and in the high-risk category for heart disease. Thankfully my doctor looked me in the eye and gave me life-transforming advice. He didn’t mince words. He very clearly told me that I was overweight, I was a high risk for heart attack, and I needed to take action, immediately. While still in his office, he told me he was stepping out for a few minutes and that I needed to “call Tony.” He meant that I needed to call Team Beachbody and buy Tony Horton’s P90X program.  I didn’t really want the advice, but he gave it to me in no uncertain terms. 

We’re All Equally Imperfect
We all have one thing in common - we’re imperfect.  How many times have you gone to church and looked at the perfect family?  How many times have you gone to the gym and seen the muscular guy or the toned girl with the seemingly perfect bodies?  How many times have you come across someone who just seemed to have it all together?  I assure you, in each case, that person has issues, flaws, struggles, and challenges that you don’t see.  We’re human, we’re broken, we’re flawed, and we’re all equally imperfect.  Furthermore, we all need help.

The Greatest Moment
My weakest moment came when I was struggling through a horrific project at work, a number of family struggles, financial challenges, and health issues. I was clearly failing, and I didn’t see a way out.  Until… one Sunday morning, I heard a message that said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” ~2 Cor 12:9.   It was a message that told me we were meant to live in community, to support each other, to lean on each other, to ask for help, and to help.  It was a humbling message that empowered me to drop on my knees and ask for help.

My Challenge to You
Indeed, my greatest moment of strength came when I was humbled and begging for help.  Maybe it's your turn.  Need help with your health or weight, seek a nutritionist.  Need help with exercise, seek a trainer.  Need help with the bigger questions in life, visit a reputable, Bible-based church. Whatever it is, set your ego aside, humble yourself, and ask for help. It might be your greatest moment of strength too.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

Check out Enjoy the Journey on at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Boardroom Lessons From the Race Course

The eyes of the world are now upon some of the very best athletes our countries have to offer.  These Olympians have spent their lives diligently training to deliver a perfect performance.  Elite athletes have an inherent drive for success, which pushes them to the limits of human possibility as they prepare, train, and become the very best. The most successful athletes also know how to apply these athletic lessons to all aspects of their lives.  When I signed up to complete in iron-distance triathlons, I never thought I’d learn lessons on the race course that would pay off in the boardroom.  Here's a few:

Have the Courage to Try
At first, I didn’t want to be a triathlete. I didn’t want to learn how to swim, and more importantly, I was afraid of failure. After much soul searching and persuasion, I agreed to try. I’ve since completed three Ironman races, four marathons, numerous other multi-sport races, I’ve lost 50 pounds, I’ve gained many wonderful friends, and I’ve had more fun that imaginable.  In the office, we’re often scared.  We’re scared to learn a new skill, we’re scared to take a new job, we’re scared to switch departments, we’re scared to give a presentation.  Step out of your comfort zone, take a chance, and have the courage to try. You may be surprised by the results.

Anything is Possible
Not only did I not know how to swim, but I had sustained an injury five years earlier that left doctors telling me I’d never run again.  In the course of training for my first two Ironman races, my injury list included torn ligaments, torn achilles, a stress fracture, a torn rotator cuff, and a host of knee injuries. Quitting was considered by many to be my only option.  However, I choose to believe in the impossible, and I believe that each and every day, God imparts favor and delivers miracles. Take the word “can’t” out of your vocabulary - you get to define success in athletics, in the office, and in life. Only you get to define what’s possible, and you get to go after it. Dream big, aim high, execute, and believe.

Life’s A Team Sport
If any sport would qualify as an individual sport, I would think triathlon is a good bet.  One person swims, that same person cycles, and that same person runs.  I quickly learned that’s not the case.  To properly train, I needed a coach. To make it fun, I trained with a team. To fuel my body, I needed a nutritionist. To address my injuries, I needed physical therapists and doctors. To be able to put in the hours, I needed the support of loved ones. You’re no different.  In the office, you need a great leader, great people in your workgroup, and great people in your organization. You need to interoperate with other departments such as finance, HR, engineering, product. There’s no such thing as a company of one, so if you want to win in the office, become a phenomenal team player.

Turn Lemons Into Lemonade
In my last Ironman race, the temperature was 15-20 degrees than my hottest day in training.  Life’s not about what happens to you, it’s how you respond.  In this case, a course correction on the nutrition and hydration plan was in order.  The heat cost me some time, but it didn’t ruin my race.  Others weren’t so lucky. In the office, bad things will happen. You need to rise above. People will steal your ideas, promotions will be given to undeserving co-workers, and corporate politics will drive you crazy. The winners in life quickly learn how to adapt, adopt, and overcome.

Patiently Persevere
My last Ironman consisted of 2,496 swim strokes, 23,595 pedal strokes, and 47,850 steps to cover 140.6 miles in nearly 13 hours.  There were no shortcuts.  The only way to the finish line was to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  It’s no different in the office.  Successful people know that you can’t achieve greatness overnight.  You need to put in time, and it needs to be time in which you consistently demonstrate excellence. There are no shortcuts.  If you have the right plan to achieve your goals, set your direction and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Make it Fun
In the course of my most recent Ironman, I made a personal goal to have fun.  Despite the heat, despite the duration, despite the distance, and despite the pain, I had a fantastic time. Towards the end, a group of fans actually yelled to me that they noticed I was one of the few people on the course who was smiling every time I passed them.  Mission accomplished.  Most people spend nearly 50% of their waking hours at work, and you have a choice to make. You can choose your attitude.  You can be miserable, negative, and down on life. Or you can rise above, keep a positive attitude, and make your own fun. The choice is yours.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

Check out Enjoy the Journey on at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at
#enjoythejourney #motivation #inspiration #transformation #results #success #adapt

Friday, February 2, 2018

Dream for Tomorrow - Act for Today

Myles Monroe said, “The wealthiest place in the world is the cemetery… there is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.” While it’s tragic to watch people meander through life, just going through the motions, and living without purpose or vision, it’s far worse when someone has a vision but lacks the ability to execute on that vision.  Highly successful people are proficient at three skills: creating a compelling vision of the future, developing plans to achieve the vision, and executing on those plans

Dream Big
Think back to your childhood and your dreams of greatness.  We all had dreams of fame, fortune, and greatness. As adults, we’ve heard words like no, can’t, impossible, and failure too often, and they’ve tempered our dreams. It’s time to dream big again, starting now. Don’t process, don’t evaluate, don’t squelch your ideas, and don’t say the word “impossible.” Simply dream:
  • What’s the legacy you wish to leave behind for generations to come?
  • What’s your purpose in life?
  • What’s your vision for your spiritual life?
  • Where do you see your family in 5, 10, 20, 50 years?
  • What’s the vision for your health and well-being for the future?
  • What would you like to accomplish in your career and/or for your organization?
  • What are some crazy bucket list items you’d like to achieve?
Translate Your Vision Into Action Plans
"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” ~ Joel A. Barker.  You just created statements of vision, and now it’s time to set the stage for action:
  • Compel - take the vision above and make it compelling.  Ask the question, why is this important? Let’s say your vision is to someday run a marathon.  The vision is far more inspiring and motivating if there’s a “why” behind it.  Maybe you want to be a role model for your children of health and longevity. Perhaps you have a vision to improve processes in your workgroup.  A compelling story like, “This will help us improve our productivity and quality, while also improving our work-life balance by reducing overtime” will go a long ways in rallying the troops.
  • Communicate - engage everyone impacted by this vision.  If your vision is to someday climb Mt. Rainier, you’ll need support from loved ones when you’re gone doing training climbs. If your vision is to transform an organization at work, you’ll need not only the awareness, but the full engagement and support, of the team.  Communicate early and often
  • Empower - allow all affected groups to take ownership in refining the vision and the compelling story behind it.  Make sure everyone is (or can be) equipped for success. For example, if your vision is for your an innovative idea at work, make sure the team has the right tools and training for success.
  • Plan - this is where most dreams go to die. This happens every New Years Eve as dreams and visions become resolutions, but without proper planning, they fail. If this is new territory for you, look to others for help.  Ask people who’ve already been there to help you plan. If your dream is to run a marathon, research plans and adopt one that already works.  If your dream is to transform how your organization works, talk to other senior leaders who’ve already done this. Identify the necessary steps and timing that will move you towards your vision. You need some realistic actions and milestones that will bring the vision to life.

You now have a compelling, well-communicated vision that is inspiring and motivating.  You also have a step-by-step plan of attack, with actions, due dates, and milestones.  It’s time to get busy.
  • Prioritize - make sure this action plan is properly prioritized to ensure it gets attention. You may need to sacrifice in other areas, and if so, identify those areas now.
  • Schedule - does this require meetings, trips, or concrete blocks of time carved out to achieve the action plan? If so, get them on your calendar.  If you’re planning to run a marathon, put your daily running time on your calendar.  If this is a team vision, get their time blocked for meetings, working sessions, etc.. Whenever the action is delimited to a finite start and end time on a given day, put it on your calendar.
  • Act - do you need to put action items on your to-do list? In the running example, maybe you need to buy running shoes, running clothes, or gym memberships.  Maybe you need to set milestones every month to evaluate progress against plan. 
  • Fail and Course Correct - allow yourself to fail. You will encounter setbacks, you will have challenges, and you need to overcome those failure moments and use them to propel you forward.  The plan you start with will likely change considerably, and you need to be flexible while keeping the end in mind.

Putting It Together
As an overweight, unhealthy forty-something, the vision of me becoming a role model of health and fitness for my children seemed like a dream not worth dreaming. I shared my vision with a coach and a nutritionist, and they helped me marry-up the dream with the right action plan. Every workout was on my calendar, every action was in my to-do list, and those impacted by the vision have been with me every step of the way.  Fifty pounds of weight lost, six marathons completed, three Ironman triathlons completed, and the dream has become reality.  I did it, so can you.  Just imagine the possibilities...

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 

Check out Enjoy the Journey on at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at 
#enjoythejourney #motivation #inspiration #transformation #results #success #vision

In the Zone

Only 19 miles to go to the finish line. I just need to focus, one step at a time, pace, form, hydration, nutrition… hey there’s a bird!  Bac...