Last week, I shared some leadership lessons from the half marathon training run in preparation for tackling a full marathon before turning 40.  So yesterday at 8:00 am, four friends and I began our journey at 22 degrees.  We’d created our own course and would start north with 7 miles out and back for a nutrition refill.  Another 4.5 miles south would bring us back to our starting point at mile marker 23 where our families could cheer us on as we finished the last 3.22.

I don’t remember a mile that went by where there wasn’t a lesson or correlation between leadership and running a marathon.  While a few certainly fell through the endless cracks that were traversed over 50,000 steps, here are 14 truths that rose to the surface in marathons and in leadership…

  1. Some of the miles are lonely even when there are people all around.
  2. It’s immensely difficult to be fully present in the moment and simultaneously have one’s eyes set on the destination.
  3. There are times to speak and times to be silent and contemplative.
  4. Our core temperature is really important in leading people – neither hot-tempered nor cold and cynical.
  5. Smiling and “head up” demands 4% less energy.
  6. No matter what one has read and studied, it’s impossible to be fully prepared.
  7. Our ability to calculate pace, distance remaining, time remaining is pathetic when we’re stressed, strained, and overcapacity.
  8. Only those who have done it (marathon and leadership) can really understand the challenges and burdens.
  9. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  10. It’s painful, challenging, and immensely rewarding.
  11. Grit will be required to keep going when it’s hard.
  12. Mantras and principles are invaluable when complexity, variety, and difficulty surrounds.
  13. There’s always an opportunity to honor the people who helped get you to the finish.
  14. Relationships are way more important.  Period.

I hope the list is encouraging as you look around and feel like you’re hitting the 21-mile “wall.”  While leadership is ALWAYS difficult, this season has brought with it a heavy dose of uncertainty.  Take heart in recognizing that the challenge is real AND that the world is in great need of leaders who care and believe in what’s possible.

Cheers to you and a “keep going” in the long and wearying miles of leadership!!!

Josh Block

Josh Block

Josh Block is a Michigan native, husband, father of two, speaker, company president, and leadership advocate. He believes that healthy leaders, thriving teams and fulfilling work carry remarkable power to transform people and families.

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