I’m doing a “thing”. I’m training for a half marathon in June. This has been on my bucket list for years, and honestly just the thought of it has intimidated me in the past. But when your 6’4″ “little brother” challenges you, it gives you a determination that comes from somewhere deep down in your gut (call it competition or good ‘old sibling rivalry at it’s best).
This whole training thing is serious, we’re encouraging each other between Oregon and Colorado through an app, there’s just good accountability and encouragement knowing that someone is watching my progress. The second week of my training plan (yes, there’s a plan), I noticed a couple of interesting things, which lend themselves to leadership.
The 1st Mile: The first mile is about getting your bearings and finding your pace and let’s be honest, talking your body into it. You know once you pass a certain threshold, everything will sync and feel better. It’s not easy, in fact it feels hard and it’s tempting to give into the fatigue.
When it comes to leadership, the first of anything can feel the same. In their book, Don’t Quit, The Best Things in Ministry Come Over Time, Gina McClain and Jessica Bealer start their book with this, “The Key to Endurance is Perception”. If we only look at the present and stop thinking about the end in mind, we’ll be defeated by momentary trials every time. Maybe the current measure of your responsibilities seem too heavy, too much and impossible to tackle. But the reality is, if we just keep doing what we know to do, make a plan and work the plan, before we know it, we look up and our perspective shows us the fruit of our labor! There is much to be learned by pushing through leadership fatigue and pursuing perseverance. But there’s no doubt that the “first mile” seems about like a mountain marathon for a beginner runner. I love this truth from the Book of Romans in the Bible; “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope!”
- We will run into problems or trials (cramps, negative talk or just winded).
- BUT, if we allow, these things help us develop endurance. In running the more you run, the more you can run. Same is true for leadership, the more you lean into the hard moments of leadership, the more you grow in your own personal leadership and the more leadership credibility you gain.
- Endurance develops strength! In leadership and in life that strength is found in an ever-growing character that isn’t easily stung or bruised. This is the ability to tuck and roll with the punches, the set-backs or the disappointments.
- Confident HOPE! Strong character gives us hope and not just hope, but confident hope. When you measure the outcome of your hard work, it builds something in us that gives us confidence. Results, WINS and accomplishments are fuel for the next mile! Whether it’s a bottom line, a production line, a ministry or a personal goal, there is a shift in our stinkin’ thinkin’ because of the work of endurance and perseverance. That shift is the confident hope knowing that we can take the next hill!
The 2nd (or third or more) Mile: When you’ve trusted the endurance process, allowed yourself to push through the “1st Mile”, look forward to the perspective when you’re done, the second mile somehow suddenly becomes easier. Your heart rate might still be up, but your body is agreeing with it now, rather then screaming hatred at it’s attempts to keep the blood flowing. You suddenly realize that the “hard” conversations are still hard, but you have the stamina and the “strength of character” to lean into them… perseverance is doing it’s promised work in you, building strength, which is the opposite of fatigue.
Leadership is a series of decisions for the sake of your organization and the sake of people. In the 2nd Mile you now have the energy, the wisdom and the knowledge to recognize that the urgent and the temptation to live in the tyranny of the urgent are only liars and meant to distract you from the most important thing, which is to keep your eye on the goal and the work of your strategy and plan.
Things become clearer the 2nd Mile, you don’t feel winded (even when you have one of “those” days), you know that the 3rd Mile is up ahead, but you’re ready. When I started this running “thing”, it was hard. I live at 5000′ elevation, my lungs and legs did not like me. But after a month and ahalf of training, working the plan, I ran a 4 mile race and achieved my PB (personal best), even shocking myself. Perseverance and endurance is doing it’s work! How about you? How have you pushed through hard leadership seasons to see the reward of perseverance?
Bottom Line: Trust the work of perseverance to battle fatigue.