As I sit here, one week on from completing last week’s London Marathon, I have been reflecting on what this year’s experience has taught me and thought I would share eight leadership lessons with you, inspired by my run.
1. GOAL – it is important to have a goal so you know what to aim for. Six months ago I could not run a single step as I was suffering with my Achilles tendon and I hadn’t run for five months. The goal of completing the marathon at the end of April helped to bring things into focus and I targeted my activities accordingly.
Q: what is your goal or vision and does it give you clarity?
2. PRACTICE – a challenge such as running 26.2 miles is not something that should be attempted without any practice! It is not a typical activity for most human bodies and as such it is important to get used to spending time out exercising. With all the right training completed, the body is able to rise to the challenge.
Q: do you practise for the most important goals in your business/life?
3. BE CENTRED – I actually felt incredibly centred at the start line this year, soaking in the atmosphere with a deeply calm mind. I had done all my preparation and travel arrangements in advance of the day and took each step to the start line very calmly. No excess energy was used dealing with the stress or anxiety of last minute panics.
Q: how calm is your mind, especially when tackling your biggest tasks?
4. NOURISHMENT – one of the biggest mistakes I have made in the past is with my food intake leading up to the race. I have previously had days of stuffing pasta down my throat and ended up at the start line feeling tired, heavy and sluggish. This year, with a proper nutrition plan, I didn’t have one pasta meal! I simply had a couple of days of slightly more carbohydrate than normal after several days of carb depletion. The result was a bright and energetic body at the start, with enough energy to see me through to the end of the race.
Q: what ‘nourishment’ do you or your team need to complete your main tasks?
5. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED – one of Tim’s (from our team) leadership lessons is “no plan survives engagement with the enemy”. As good as my planning and training had been, I had picked up a calf strain in the last week and, although I felt OK at the start, my left calf flared up with just one-third of a mile completed. The pain was immediately bad enough for me to question whether I should attempt to complete the next 26.1 miles! As I continued through the race, the pain gradually rose up my left leg and then later on, my right hip and knee were feeling it also as my right leg overcompensated for the left. Luckily my training and my calm mind kept me able and focused on the task at hand.
Q: do you feel robust enough to survive unexpected challenges on your journey? What could you do to improve?
6. PURPOSE – the last six miles or so are always a struggle in a marathon as the body approaches the dreaded “wall” and your inner voice starts to get a bit noisy! This year was made doubly worse as the pain I had been carrying for three hours was almost all consuming by this stage. At this point all I kept thinking was, “I have an injury, but that will mend over the next few weeks. The kids in the children’s hospice (that I was raising money for) do not have that luxury. If they can face their challenges with such bravery and humour then I can do this for them”.
Q: are you clear on your purpose, why you are doing the things you have set as goals?
7. Support – one of the wonderful things about the London Marathon is the incredible crowd that lines the course from start to finish. Those who runs lots of marathons all round the world tell me that London is definitely the best for this. Having people cheer you on helps to take your mind off the pain, brings a smile to your face and spurs you on to the next milestone. It really is so very, very helpful.
Q: what support can you tap into for yourself and how do you ensure your team are being cheered on regularly?
8. ACTION – this may sound so incredibly obvious, but, in the end, you still need to turn up and put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles! No one can do it for you and there is no shortcut available. I know the saying “P***-poor planning makes p***-poor performance” and “failing to plan is planning to fail” but it is also true that “planning ain’t doing” and the only way to achieve is to act. In a race, the point at which to start the action is pretty obvious, it’s as you cross the start line, and what a buzz of excitement to finally get the race underway.
Q: do you know when to stop planning and start acting? Is your starting line clear and does everyone else in the team know this too?
One week on and my left leg is on the mend and I’m now getting my next goals clearly laid out and developing my plans to attack these. I have raised over £5000 for the Children’s Hospice thanks to so many of your generous donations. Thank you.
You can still donate here if you would like to.
I have a well-earned medal for stepping over the finish line in 4 hours and 12 minutes, which personally I am delighted about in the circumstances. I also have these leadership lessons to be grateful for and hope you find them useful.
If you would like help and support with any of the leadership lessons mentioned, for you or your team, then do get in touch. We would love to hear from you.
After all, iTS Leadership!