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How to Run Over Fear and Take Action: Advice From Dean Karnazes

12/02/2013 04:23 pm ET | Updated Feb 01, 2014

After reading Dean's Ultramarathon Man, I went out and ran my first marathon.

Well, it didn't happen quite like that. But almost.

I had to put in the work first. I had to take action.

It's the same in business.

One of the fittest men on the planet and New York Times bestselling author, Dean Karnazes reveals the secrets behind going the distance on the pavement or the project plan.

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Q: With millions of steps under your belt, what's your secret sauce for taking that first step?

Fear of the unknown is scary, especially if you let the worry of failure paralyze you.

But, fact is, failure rocks.

Rather than fearing failure, learn to love it instead. Celebrate failure, welcome it, learn from it and move on. Until you become comfortable with failure, you will never realize your full potential.

Set a bold course with the commitment that you will give it everything you've got. Even if you fail, you learn in the process, so ultimately it is not a failure at all.

Learn to Love Failure

Q: What is the most challenging adventure you've ever undertaken? How did you approach it?
 
Although I have raced and competed on all 7 continents, in some of the most extreme conditions and remote areas on the planet, the most challenging adventure I've ever undertaken is raising two kids.

Jackie Onassis said it best:

"If you mess up your children, nothing else you do really matters."

Being a good father tests me in ways that I never could have imagined, and I am stretched daily to continually improve and become better in my role.

Being adaptable and learning to be patient are skills that have helped me approach the challenge more effectively.

Raising Kids: Be Adaptable & Patient

Q: I've heard it said that the difference between a pro and an amateur in any field is their relationship to practice. What's your take on that?
 
There is no way to fake your way through a marathon or an Ironman. If you don't pay your dues with hours of hard training and practice, you won't make it.

There are no shortcuts or paths of least resistance; anything shy of total commitment, complete dedication and unwavering adherence just won't suffice. If you lack this devotion to practice, it will show.

Practice or Perish

Q: Before becoming Ultramarathon Man, you were a business executive at a large corporation. What is your advice to those who want to follow their dream career, but are fearful of taking action?
 
Cutting the corporate cord and stepping out on your own can be a scary proposition. No more steady paycheck, no more 401K matching program, no more medical benefits; the sacrifices are many. Yet, if you're not happy, these perks can feel more like handcuffs.

Successful people are universally doing what they love, whatever that may be. You will always do better at something you are passionate about because the work itself is pleasurable.

Then again, unless you have the courage to try you will never know this.  

Be Courageous and Do What You Love

Q: What is the single biggest factor that keeps most people from taking action?

Complacency and contentment. People lower their standard to match their current situation and circumstances and grow comfortable living this compromised existence.

Plus, society tells us that comfort and relaxation are the keys to happiness. Eventually we buy into this and stop trying to realize our full potential if it involves anything difficult and demanding.

Show me a man that is content, I say, and I will show you an underachiever.

Yet we all have a yearning to know how high we can climb, how far we can go.

The US Army tagline poignantly captures this intrinsic human desire, which we can all aspire to:

"Be All You Can Be"

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See other interviews from this series with top business and life leaders:
Patrik Frisk - What does simplicate mean exactly?
Nadine Hack - The Art of the Master Bridge Builder
Roger Love - More Glee: Set your Voice Free

Edited by Suzanne Pinckney

About Dean: TIME magazine named Dean Karnazes one of the "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World." Men's Fitness hailed him as one of the fittest men on the planet. An internationally recognized endurance athlete and NYC bestselling author, Dean has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. Among his many accomplishments, he has run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He's run across Death Valley in 120 degree temperatures, and he's run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On ten different occasions, he's run a 200-mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of twelve.
His most recent endeavor was running 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the NYC Marathon, which he ran in three hours flat.
Dean and his incredible adventures have been featured on 60 Minutes, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS News, CNN, ESPN, The Howard Stern Show, NPR's Morning Edition, the BBC, and many others. He has appeared on the cover of Runner's World and Outside, and been featured in TIME, Newsweek, People, GQ, The New York Times, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, Men's Journal, Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and the London Telegraph, to mention a few. He is a monthly columnist for Men's Health, the largest Men's publication in the world.

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