I set out Sunday, July 28th on my seventh Ironman Lake Placid journey, to challenges known and unknown.
One goal was to find inspiration for a blog post, and in perfect form Ironman came through for me.
I was on mile eight of the marathon when I looked up and saw one of many inspirational posters. These stirring signs dot the landscape, evidence that loved ones were here the day before ensuring we would have reason to smile another mile.
This poster in particular had not survived a passing rain shower well, its upper corners folded toward the middle. Being a classic rock aficionado, I knew all too well the simple words placed on the placard. However, the sagging corners blocked several letters, sending an adjusted message:
I vowed not to disappoint Journey, but was struck by exactly what I was believin’ in. It brought up two questions: How does what we do as athletes and managers reflect what we believe in and how do we communicate these beliefs to others?
I believe in myself, that I can overcome anything. I believe there is truth in endurance, that these journeys to push the boundaries of my physical, mental, and spiritual limits enrich and teach me, making me a wiser, better person.
I’ve spread this message in many ways throughout my athletic career, and am proud to say in doing so have shared and learned so much.
I believe in inspiring people to follow their path, whatever their direction may be. I believe in the power of listening and guiding people along their way as opposed to forcing and pushing.
This has always been evidenced in my approach to colleagues. If someone truly does not want to be on the team, it’s my job to make their transition easy. If someone wants to move up the ranks, ditto.
I communicate this by action and in my management training sessions. It’s a style that brings the best out in people, including myself.
On occasion when my belief system and expected actions collide, it’s time to pause and take a look at what the problem may be. Does the system need to be tweaked, or have I failed to see another angle?
Take a moment to write down your core beliefs. Then, take a look at your athletic and professional life and see how everything intersects, parallels, or diverges. Are you moving in the right direction?
Ultimately, we’re more fulfilled and happy when we live one life and don’t need to be the personal us, professional us, social us, parental us, etc.
Thanks for the bent sign, Ironman – I’m on to believin’!
At Vassar we came across this David Foster Wallace Quote that really speaks about how to lead, and of course you must understand your core beliefs prior to leading others…
“A leader is somebody who, because of their own particular power and charisma and example, is able to inspire people, with ‘inspire’ being used here in a serious and non cliche way. A real leader can somehow get us to do certain things that deep down we think are good and want to be able to do but usually can’t get ourselves to do on our own. It’s a mysterious quality, hard to define, but we always know when we see it, even as kids.”