There’s a reason running is the best metaphor for so many things in life.

Having devoted the majority of my life to running, I believe this grueling sport is the purest example of how a combination of the right strategy and mindset equals success. Serious runners and other elite athletes practice “brain training”, honing their mental discipline, focus, and commitment. This way of thinking is actually common amongst leaders and successful people, whatever their field. The exciting part is that it has nothing to do with genetics; it’s something everyone can learn.

Let me start with an analogy of how dedicated runners train differently:

  • Olympic hopefuls make training their priority. Since they are defined by the times they hit for their distance, they don’t log junk miles just to run. They constantly set new, specific goals, then push their limits to get faster. If they want to run the marathon at a 5-minute-mile pace, they run intervals at 4.50.
  • Club runners run to complete a given distance, or log an amount of time spent pounding the pavement. They run to complete the run, to finish the race, to check that box.
  • Amateurs spend half their time not really running at all. They’re planning their route, walking to catch their breath, stopping to enjoy the scenery, or to let the dog do its business.

This combination of mindset and approach also applies to achieving excellence in other pursuits, such as playing the violin or acting. It also holds true for interpersonal and leadership skills, and is at the core of what drives influence: engagement and authority are achieved over time, and require constant recalibration. After all, what’s working today might be passé tomorrow.

Savvy influencers know this.

They don’t resist change. They’re constantly seeking ways to get better, be better, and become the best. Like Olympic hopefuls, they are laser focused on their goals, and on setting new goals once the old ones are achieved. They push the limits, they try new mediums and methods, and they aren’t afraid to fail.

Along the way, they listen like students to their audience and community. They welcome feedback, and take constant stock of note of what’s working, what’s not—and why.

Building influence takes time, but time is not the most critical factor—it’s how you use your time.

If you truly want to be an Influencer in your field—more than a hobbyist or someone with a passing interest in a category — you have to focus and make it your life’s work.

Regardless of whether or not it’s a “passion” of yours, or you believe you know a subject so well you can go over it in your sleep, anything but all-in drive will leave you at the back of the pack.

Take it from a runner: winning is something you must commit to every step of the way, even when you still have miles to go.

Go bigger together!


P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Influencer Marketing, as the world has led us to believe that it pushes “one-off” tactics and “pay-to-play” campaigns. Do you have any great examples of a long-term brand relationship and the benefits that came because of it?

If so, we’d love to hear about it, post below!

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