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Working From the Inside Out

Is there a personal achievement you really want? A problem you want to solve in your life or something you want to become?

Children tend to use their imaginations unabashedly. When my granddaughter was two, she went through a phase where she wanted to be a puppy. She went all in. She picked out a name and did her best to imitate the characteristics of a puppy. When people would call her by her name, she would correct them and say she was a puppy.

She was confident in her identity as a puppy.

Adults have a little more difficulty in adopting a desired identity. I hear adults who run regularly say “I’m not a runner”.


Unlike children, adults make a lot of rules to qualify themselves. Maybe you run five miles each week, but you’ve made up a qualification that in order to be a runner, you must have run at least a half marathon - which you haven’t. So you can’t take on the identity of being a runner.

Adults insist that until you’ve done all the things on the outside (like running a half marathon), you aren’t what you want to be on the inside (a runner).

This kind of thinking is backwards. It is possible to achieve all the external qualifications - run the proverbial long races - in order to identify as something we want, but it requires will power. Very few people have a deep reserve of will power, and will burn out long before their desires come to fruition.

It’s so much more effective to start on the inside and work our way out.

We must think “I am a runner” first.

Starting from the inside is fast tracking. When you think “I am a runner,” you are focusing on your identity first. That identity propels the external actions that runners take, naturally. You will begin to do the things that runners do; you will prioritize running in your schedule and prepare for your runs with adequate nutrition and rest. You achieve the outcome of being a runner by starting on the inside with your thinking.

This running metaphor can be applied to any circumstance. Being anything requires you to believe it in your mind first. Whatever it is you want to be, begin on the inside and work your way out.

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