“Follow the path to your goal, one step at a time. The best time to take the first step: NOW!”

Martin Parnell
Potential Unlimited - Success on Your Terms

Potential Unlimited - Success on Your Terms

Posted by martin.parnell | Overcoming Obstacles Potential Workshop

Last week, I presented a Keynote speech and Workshop at the Recreation Connections Manitoba Conference, in Winnipeg. I was fulfilling a commitment I’d made exactly a year ago, when I was suddenly taken ill and diagnosed with a clot on my brain. This year’s conference was held at Radisson Hotel and my presentation was at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre.

Built in 1919, the neo-classical style building, has a 2,500-seat auditorium with a stage and orchestra pit. The building was closed in 1987 and remained shuttered up for 25 years. In 2010 / 11, Canada Inns had the foresight to invest $20 million and returned the building to its former glory. Standing on the stage, with the largest projection screen I had ever seen, behind me, felt like I was back in the 1930’s.

My talk went over well and, in the afternoon, I delivered my Workshop. The theme was “Unlocking Your Potential – Setting Goals and Achieving Results you never thought Possible”. A group of 40 participants gathered for the session. I asked them to think of a goal, personal or professional, that they might like to achieve in the next 6 months to a year, the reasons why they chose this particular goal and some obstacles they might encounter.

There were a wide range of answers varying from learning to speak French to hiking the Mantario trail, dealing with a difficult employee to completing a marathon. The delegates were also asked to give reasons as to why they had chosen their particular goals. The responses included getting outside my box, helping my son, building my confidence, improving the culture in my workplace, engaging my competitive side and leaving a legacy.

One person told the group that he’d always wanted to travel to Egypt, as he had a passion for archeology. Financing his dream had always been an obstacle.  This was just one reason why goals are often not tackled, others might include competing priorities, time constraints, old patterns and behaviours, self-doubt, unsupportive family or colleagues, or red tape.

I steered the discussion towards ways in which a person might overcome or circumnavigate these type of hindrances. I strongly believe that it is possible to achieve your goals and achieve your full potential, if you tackle things in the right way. It’s all a matter of planning, setting up a support mechanism and having belief. I gave the delegates tools in which to start the process of identifying their goals, in order to attempt things they might not have thought possible and which could, potentially, make them feel more fulfilled.

By the end of the session, the amateur archaeologist in the group had not only devised a plan to at least begin to raise the means to finance his trip, but also to go even further and go back to school, with the intention of, one day, teaching History. Others had lesser goals, but it’s what is important to the individual that really counts. One person’s 5km walk is another person’s marathon.

Over the past few years. I have set myself many goals, If I had listened to some people, I wouldn’t have even attempted most of them, but I’ve proved that, with support, planning and a great deal of stubborn belief, most things are possible.

Next time you’ve got a few minutes to spare, why not ask yourself what it is you’d really like to achieve and how you might go about it? You might surprise yourself.

As the workshop finished I put up my last slide “Follow the path to your goal, one step at a time. The best time to take the first step: NOW!” 

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The Marathon of Afghanistan

The Marathon of Afghanistan

Posted by martin.parnell | Afghanistan Marathon Overcoming Obstacles Women Leaders

In the past I’ve taken running for granted. It was so easy to lace up a pair of trainers, head out the front door and within two minutes be on the Cochrane pathways. From there the options seemed limitless, along the Bow River and down to the rodeo grounds, up Big Hill Creek past the Cochrane Ranche House to Fosters Ranch or tackling the killer hill on Towers Trail to Wine Glass Ranch.

That all changed in February this year when I was diagnosed with a clot on the brain. No more running. Over the following four months I was allowed to walk but that was it. Then a month ago the specialist gave me the green light to start hitting the pavement again. It was like I had my freedom back. Now I’ve returned to training looking to run a marathon on December 31st at my 6th Annual Run / Walk at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sport Centre.

So it’s hard to imagine a situation where running is a luxury and a country that has never had a marathon. Well, this was true of Afghanistan until two weeks ago. On October 16th, the “Marathon of Afghanistan” was held in Bamiyan, high in the mountains west of Kabul. On a cold clear morning around 35 runners lined up at the make shift start line 3,000m above sea level. International athletes came from Canada, US, and Belgium, with local Pashtan runners, making up the numbers.

This group included 25 year old Zainab, the lone Afghan women. Zainab only started running a year ago when she applied for a grant from the organization “Free to Run” to complete in an ultramarathon in China’s Gobi desert. Free to Run is a non-profit organization that uses running, physical fitness and outdoor adventure as a means of empowering and educating females in conflict-affected communities to overcome the harmful effects of gender, religious and ethnic discrimination. To Zainab’s surprise she got the grant and her running career started.

She had many challenges during her Marathon training over and above the usual hydration and nutrition issues. “The children were stoning us, the people said bad words like ‘prostitutes, why don’t you stay at home? You are destroying Islam,” Zainab recalled. But, with her parents support, Zainab persevered and in the late afternoon on October 16th completed her first marathon.

Another runner, Baryalai Saidi, summed up the feelings of many who took part in the first Marathon of Afghanistan, “Every run is a victory”. Faced by a host of challenges, that the race even took place was a victory in itself, showing that things can be done and people can come together through things other than war. In fact they have already started planning for the 2016 “Marathon of Afghanistan”.

I’ll never take running for granted again.

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