To whom this may concern,
Recently, I was made aware through the grapevine that you are the originator of the phrase, “life is not a sprint it's a marathon.” First, why? Why is the journey so long and tortuous. Why must I endure 26.2 miles instead of 100 meters? Already anticipating that you will be eager to respond to these questions, I’d ask that you consider them rhetorical. Also, that you’d consider taking back these words you spoke years ago as I’d prefer to live in ignorance than in truth.
Your friend from the future Nate Perro.
Mid-February towards early March, this, in a nutshell, was my disposition. I had embraced the marathon lifestyle believing that I found my pace in my real estate business and yet here I was at “another” stand still. After some days of feeling a bit discouraged, it hit me that I had completely misunderstood the core essence of the phrase “it's not a sprint it's a marathon”.
Personally, when I hear the cliche, “it's not a sprint it's a marathon”, I think of distance and time. 100 meters vs 26.2 miles and 9.5 seconds (if you are Usain Bolt) vs. 2 hours (if you are from Kenya lol.) I had become comfortable with the time it would require to get where I wanted to be and the distance I would have to travel to arrive. But I had misunderstood pace. Never having run a marathon, I saw the race through the eyes of an Olympic World Champion instead of my own.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing the marathon race during the Olympics you would notice that the runners appear to maintain this amazing stride and pace throughout the entire race. This being my only reference, I assumed that my life’s marathon would have this same flow. That I too would find my pace and maintain it consistently. So when I went from closing 2 deals in January to none in February it seemed like the saying “slow and steady wins the race” was a lie. Because here I was in last place.
By seeing the marathon through the eyes of an Olympian I had done a great disservice to myself. I unintentionally assumed that I had the same mental and physical endurance to maintain a steady pace for the entire race as an Olympic runner. It was then that I decided to look into the details of running a marathon. From my research I uncovered that average runners, like myself, matriculate through 8 stages during the course of a marathon. What these 8 stages demonstrated to me was that pace did not equate to consistency. That each stage would prepare me for the next yet require something different. That a steady pace is not a given but earned.
This being my first rodeo it would be naive to think that I could have the same level of endurance as the top dogs in real estate. Just as it would be insane to think I could maintain the same pace as an Olympic champion on my first marathon. Because a steady pace is the result of endurance. And endurance is built through training/effective coaching in running and experience/correct information in business.
“The Race Is Not To The Swift Or Strong But To Those Who Endure To The End”
The 8 Stages of a Marathon
They say a marathon is a tale of two races. You run the first race with your head and the second with your heart. In short, during the 8 stages, you are slowly transitioning from excitement which is in your head to commitment which is in your heart.
Excitement: Mile 1
Excitement is Adrenalin. When we have a rush, adrenaline is released into the body usually within a few seconds. Once it’s released our body experiences several changes but notable for this example, blood gets redirected towards the muscles, causing a surge in energy. The effects of adrenaline on the body can last for up to 1 hour after the initial adrenaline rush. When you consider that the average time of a marathon is between 4 and 5 hours it becomes clear that excitement won’t get you to the finish line. Similarly, in life you can’t rely on excitement/adrenaline to carry you to the end of any goal you desire to accomplish. Moreover, it’s critical to recognize excitement for what it is and leverage it until it runs out.
Also worth noting, when you start off the race, physically you are in great shape as you’ve likely hydrated and eaten a solid breakfast. Mentally you feel great because your physical is still in good shape. Comparing this to entrepreneurship, I came in excited. I had spent months training for this moment and it was finally here. Physically, I was good because I closed a deal, had others in the pipeline and money saved. Mentally, I was great because my physical conditioning (money) provided a level of security.
Denial: Mile 5
“I’m behind on my pace but just keep going...I think I missed a spot on my thigh with my body glide.”
Denial is when the adrenaline starts to wear off and reality begins to kick in. However, still feeling good physically you don’t fully embrace it. It’s when the thought hit me, Nathan WTH? You quit your job and things are not turning out how you planned. Not only have you not closed another deal but your deal source is gone due to a business partnership fallout. Now you’re way behind on your 2018 projections. It’s then when my insecurities were triggered. Maybe I’m not enough. Luckly, I still containing the right combination of fight and ignorance, so I didn’t quit or ask PwC for my job back. I kept on pushing.
Shock!: Mile 11
“I’m not even halfway through yet. It feels like I’ve been running forever. I think this is going to be tougher than i thought”
As the body physically begins to weaken so does the mind. The poem “The Man Who Thinks He Can” by Walter D. Wintle says, “Life's battles don't always go / To the stronger or faster man, / But soon or late the man who wins / Is the one who thinks he can.” Too often our confidence is shallow, based on the physical. I have money, I’ve closed deals, etc. But when that physical attribute which our confidence is based on begins to wither away, there our confidence goes. Only confidence rooted in self-belief stands the test of time.
The Shock stage is when you must face reality. “I’m really running this marathon” or “I actually quit my job”. It’s when I realized entrepreneurship isn’t what they made it appear to be on IG or in Youtube ads. Not being able to close a deal for a couple of months and my bank account running out, it hit me that the journey would not be as easy as I anticipated.
Isolation: Mile 16
“Where is everyone. It’s just me I guess there is nothing left to do but confront my inner demons.”
It’s lonely. There may be tens of people in your corner cheering you on but only you can run the race. Only you can step into the ring and fight the fight. The Isolation Phase begins the transition from running with your head to running with your heart.
Unfortunately, the heart is barricaded by our inner demons. Therefore in order to leverage its power and strength, you must break down those barriers. When I originally moved back home I knew there were some barriers I had to break in order to accomplish my goals. Slowly, I began dismantling them. Prematurely, I celebrated victory believing that all the junk in my life was cleared. I had the tough conversations and was healing. But soon after I would come to find that there was a lot more in store before I was victorious.
Despair: Mile 19
“I am going to die. Why did I ever decide to do this? At least I didn’t hit the wall yet.”
At the Despair stage the body’s pain tolerance has almost reached its peak. In the video, he complains that “his thighs are hurting and his toenail feel like it’s coming off.” Well, my bank account was surely hurting and I was forced to cut off some additional expenses. The loss of my physical security, my bank account, triggered a mental death. I thought it was all over. Why didn’t I just stay at PwC? The only hope I had was that I had yet to hit the wall, or in other words, I had not tapped into my savings/life insurance.
“The Wall”: Mile 22
“I hit the wall... I’ve never been so tired in all my life. I think I should just quit... Stop passing me you jerks!”
I hit the wall! I had to borrow money from my savings which I hoped to never do. I felt defeated as if borrowing from my life insurance meant it was the end. And while on my last others seemed to be passing me up.
Affirmation: Mile 23
“No, I need to power through. I didn’t train for months to give up this late. Time to dig deep. The finish line is right there one foot in front of the other.”
I’m currently coming out of “The Wall” phase and entering into the Affirmation stage. Daily reaffirming that I am enough. That I’ve come too far to turn back now. Attending WeLive 19, a three-day conference for real estate investors/wholesalers was timely. Although, I had the inclination to save the money I borrowed from my life insurance for bills and living expenses I decided to invest in myself. Hoping to not make the same mistake I made earlier in my journey of not reinvesting. Currently, I’m grateful that I stepped out on faith and attend because it renewed my spirit and provided me the resources I needed to keep pushing. Unfortunately, I had to run out of physical strength, money, to come to the understanding that my own might is not the source. Rather, my source is internal and not external.
Elation: Mile 26
“I did it!”
I know I’m not there yet but I’m excited about the elation phase. To prove to myself that I was right for betting on me. When I can celebrate the journey and begin preparing for my next marathon.
Reconsidering the phrase, “it's not a sprint it's a marathon” and measuring it against the 8 stages. It’s clear that a 100-meter dash does not require you to progress through all 8 stages. That unlike a marathon, a sprint is not a tale of 2 races because your heart is not required. Moreover, to accomplish anything in business your heart will get checked. Thomas J. Watson said it best, “To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business and your business in your heart.”
“Slow Grind! Slow Grind! What you playas know about that slow grind? Sometimes it don’t come fast it takes time. Don’t you playas know about that slow grind?” — Jeezy
Pace changes and as an entrepreneur it’s my job to manage inconsistency. Last weekend at the WeLive Wholesaling Conference, I listened to some of the top real estate wholesalers discuss how they also experience some slow months from time to time. This made it clear that the ebbs and flows are a natural component of being in business.
And although it’s natural there are some tactics I can apply to manage inconsistency. First, build enough cash reserves to withstand the tough times. Second, produce more. What some of the top wholesalers consider a slow month I would consider a life changing month. Therefore, what I can do is grow to a level where my not so good months can still sustain myself and the business.
“Such a head rush until the day the feds rush / That's when you guys wish you put your bread up / Leased whips, bad blood, that stuff will sink ships / Fast money comin' slow, you better think quick.” — Rick Ross
Money goes fast when nothing is coming in to replace it. Benjamin Franklin inspired by the great Ricky Rozay once said, "Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship." I used to wonder how the rich and famous squandered their fortunes so easily. But fortunately, before my glow up I was given privy to how easily and quickly you can go broke. So a quick message to my aspiring entrepreneur. If there is anything that I’d hope you’d takeaway from this article is that it will take 3 times longer than you think.
Most entrepreneurs go out of business not because they fail rather their finances didn’t provide them with enough runway to be successful. Financial stamina is also part of the equation of enduring to the end. And I know I may sound like a broken record but save your money. Currently, I’m so grateful for the sacrifices of the 22-year-old Nate. Those decisions are allowing the 24-year-old Nathan to live his dream and push a little longer and harder instead of going back to get a job after only 6 months out.
“Ain’t nothing wrong with going broke to get real money” — Payroll Giovanni
First, I would like to S/O Payroll Giovanni and his 10 Stack Commandments mixtape for helping me make it through miles 16 - 25 the Isolation, Despair, and Wall phase of my marathon. His words kept me sane. In particular, “Ain’t nothing wrong with going broke to get real money. Don’t stop, don’t quit. We gon’ make flips until we get rich.” It reminded me that I wasn’t crazy. That during the process of going broke, I’ll become who I’m called to be and end up where I’m supposed to be.
“Pray for Tekashi, they want him to rot / I picture him inside a cell on a cot / 'Flectin' on how he made it to the top / Wondering if it was worth it or not” — J Cole
From the natural laws to our tax code, we are punished for raising to the top fast. For example, in real estate if you make a million dollars flipping houses and you sold all the houses within 1 year, your tax rate will be 37%. But if you make that same million and sell the homes after a year and one day your max tax rate can be 20%. What the IRS calls short-term gains vs. long-term gains.
Despite wanting to be at the finish line I’ve come to accept that microwave success is not success at all. Because we all rise the same way we fall. If you cheat your way to the top, cheating will be your downfall. It’s our roots that sustain us, so like the bamboo tree spend time growing underground before you rise. In other words, don’t allow your passion to outpace your patience.