Running is life: 5 Reminders
I swore, “I will never do that again,” when I staggered across the finish line of my first half-marathon. I’ve done six of them since, all on trails, each one more exhilarating than the last. I often wonder how it got to this point. How could I delight in something so grueling and painful?
This whole experience parallels life step for step: a sea of difficult, deliberate work with islands of tranquil, euphoric experiences. So when it comes to life (and running) the following serve as helpful reminders:
1. Lean in
It’s easy to lean back and run on your heels. Don’t. You’ll injure yourself.
2. Discomfort is the language of progress
Do those things that put you in your discomfort zone. This is where we grow and do our best work.
3. Good form channels your strength
Implement a few good habits and disciplines that structure the flow of everyday life. Like water between river banks, everything else flows through these structures.
4. Know your stuff, then get out and do
Deliberate action translates head knowledge into personal knowledge. I geek out on running, but all that knowledge amounts to little if I don’t get out and run. Running makes it real.
5. Cherish moments that flow
Commitment to the difficult process yields clarity and effortlessness.
We’re most inclined to bail out on a project or commitment when things bog down, get difficult, or even painful. Persisting and pushing through these challenges leads to great things.
I hope you find these reminders helpful, and I hope you’ll share them with someone you know who could use some encouragement.
Do you truly want to be here?
It’s a question we ask all the time, though we may not know we’re asking it. We ask this question because we’re drawn to people who want to be here, and averse to people who would rather be somewhere else.
For instance, here in the Northwest there are two kinds of coffee shops. The first is staffed with people who don’t appear to want to be there. The person at the counter responds to your coffee order as if you’ve interrupted him to ask if he could tie your shoe laces for you.
The second kind of coffee shop is infested by alchemists who delight in your enjoyment of their products, service, and experience. Where do they want to be? Right here, right now, making coffee they believe could, in some small way, change your life. Every interaction for them is an opportunity to infect others with their passion for coffee. They know that not everyone will catch the bug, but those that do will return.
We’re instinctively drawn to people who are present and engaged. They want to be there. Which is why we should be mindful that the people we serve (students, clients, co-workers, and customers) ask this question of us: “Does she really want to be here?”
What’s fascinating is how we answer this question for people we serve. They study our facial expressions, attitudes, responses, and a host of other subtle cues. Research on this topic makes it clear that these cues don’t lie. They speak the truth about whether we want to here or not. We can all tell the truth, even without asking.
Empathy, and what it’s not
Empathy is not a feeling. It’s a commitment.
Empathy is a commitment you make to get someone—to accurately grasp the inner landscape of another individual’s perceptions, and to interact with this individual in a way that is consistent with this understanding.
Empathy requires effort and curiosity.
The presenter who creates beautiful, curiosity-provoking slides for his presentation empathizes with his audience. He gets the people he serves. He sees his presentation as an opportunity to delight and surprise them.
Feelings follow empathy. They reflect that one person has rightly understood and joined another. But it all begins with a commitment to know and understand. It begins with effort.