Screaming at the Top of Their Lungs


Iditarod.


If you don’t know about it, you should check it out.


Mushers race 1,000 miles across the harsh Alaskan wilderness with a 14-dog team through extreme Arctic weather.


These dogs are tougher than you’d imagine and they obsess about running. They are bred to pull and they throw themselves at it full force.


The ceremonial start is raw energy and it will overwhelm you. Twelve hundred sled dogs in top racing form, banging in their harnesses and screaming at the top of their lungs to go.


It’s an unmistakable show of what is possible. The mind-blowing will of long distance sled dogs and the depth human endurance is enough to inspire the most timid and fearful bystander.


These dogs and humans aren’t afraid to find out what they are made of at their core.

I've been involved in the race, in many capacities from handling pro racers to coordinating dog care. While I’m there, I get to see the entire pack of mushers up close and personal.


I understood what makes a great sled dog - an incessant drive, good feet, good eating habits, good coat, good attitude, hard worker, and they need to love to run.


But recently, I wanted to figure out "what makes a great musher?"


I discovered that the mushers’ routines at checkpoints along the trail are similar. They feed, check over each dog, bed them down, work on dog feet, massage dogs, eat, sleep, get supplies from drop bags, wake up team, feed, bootie dogs, pull the hook, rinse and repeat.


Their race tactics and strategies were almost the same. They all plan a run/rest schedule, they all train in winter conditions, they have great dog care, dress for the arctic weather, and the sleds and ganglines are pretty much the same.


What was different wasn't visible with your eyes. Here is an example.


Front of the Pack Musher: “Yeah the trail was bare, but we expected it to be rough so we took it easy through the worst parts. The dogs look happy, everyone is okay, and hey, adventure is why we do this right?”


Back of the Pack Musher: “That was absolutely the worst experience of my entire life. Someone should have told me it was going to be this bad! I can’t believe they even held this race. I’m going to give the race marshall a piece of my mind. This is @#$&%!!!!”


See the difference?


The Back of the Pack Musher makes a point. The trail was one of the toughest in recent memory. That circumstance was true for everyone.


The difference is that the Back of the Pack Musher blamed the trail for their poor performance.


They didn't realize that it was their mindset about the trail that gave them a bad race... not the trail.


And here is a guidepost on your journey to crushing your career.


What holds you back, is not your circumstances. It's the way you think about your circumstances.


Facts and circumstances are innocent. It’s raining or it’s not. Your boss promotes you or he doesn’t. You had great parents or no parents. You are tall, short, male, female… whatever.


The circumstances are what they are.


But how you think about your circumstances changes how you respond.


Before you dismiss this concept, consider this. If circumstances are at fault, why do people end up with different results even though circumstances are exactly the same?


It's because they have different thoughts about their circumstances.


I know it’s seductive to blame your boss, your spouse or your kids for how things are turning out. I get it.


You're exhausted, you're busy and you work your ass off. The last thing you need is another responsibility.

How you think about your circumstances, changes how you respond.

But not taking ownership of your thoughts and your actions will leave you powerless to change your situation.


You will stay stuck wherever you are. Just going through the motions, wasting your days while your dreams drive off without you.


When you get control over your thoughts, no one can keep you from achieving the goals you want most.


At the end of the race, do you want to be in the back of the pack, or the front?


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