Many many years ago, I was a young mama training for a 5k trying to lose that extra couple of pounds from my first baby.
My then mother in law was an avid runner. She was fit and healthy and everything I hope to be when I was 45 years old.
So I started doing all the things she did.
She didn’t make excuses, so I stopped making them too. She didn’t ask for special treatment, so I stopped expecting it too. She completed things she promised, never over committed, and delivered more than was asked of her. (Insert all that Jazz about becoming the company you keep😉)
So, I decide to run this 5k. I ran the route a few times a week, would get to a certain spot on the route and would just stop. No matter how much steam I had left, at that point, I had made it ok to stop.
It was Just outside of my comfort zone, enough success to feel proud, but not so far out that I would have to face the pain of the last mile.
So I asked my mother in law “how do I train to finish the last mile? I stop there and cannot make myself finish, and I don’t even feel bad about it?”
she told me to start my run at the end, train my brain and body to think it was the beginning. (Eat the frog)
So I did, and it worked. She had asked me to simply shift my perspective, and it worked.
Race day comes and we stand at the starting line together. The gun goes off and she speeds mightily ahead, as did the rest of the pack. I was alone at the end of the line.
Clearly I couldn’t run the race backward lol, so my thoughts focused on whether or not my mindset had shifted enough for me to run my way through the last mile. Could I stop myself from stopping myself?
I rounded the corner in the road, the place where I always stopped, the place where the last mile uphill began. I dug my heals in, stared at the ground and powered forward.
I heard foot steps running toward me. I looked up and saw Nancy. She had finished her race and had come back for me.
She grabbed the sweatshirt I had tied around my neck and lightened the weight on my shoulders.
She ran next to me.
The entire last mile.
She just kept whispering, “if you stop and walk, you won’t want to run anymore”.
She ran with me to the cattle shoot and stopped short behind me as I crossed the finish line.
No one would ever know what she had done for me.
She was a leader, like many of you are. She never had to teach me, she just had to be. She finished her own race and came back to help me on the line. Much different than abandoning her race to help me on the line.
she didn’t need to prove that she was right, she just needed to show me that it worked.
That is a gift you guys, and since you’re here, I’m going to guess that you all get that.
That race on that day changed how I look at leadership, and she shaped how I would lead people in my own circle.
You can finish your race and still help on the line. That’s the beauty of servant leadership. But often, we don’t. We believe we can’t be successful and a leader who leads from the trenches. But we’re wrong.
So tell me, do you quit your race and carry your team on your back, or do you finish your race and go back to run beside them?