Running: An Exercise in Leadership

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to stay focused on your primary goal. Reading time: 3:09

     He was content –if not happy– with himself. Content to stay in the background, hidden from any and all leaders or leadership opportunities.

     Life1He settled for less than his personal best.  And he did even less.

     Lifting the pop-top of a beer can was always enough exercise for him. And dieting? Well for all he knew Count Calories was some monarch in a far off country.

    By settling for less, he didn’t flirt with the frustrations of failure or threaten his couch potato comfort.

     In fact, being a little chunky gave him an excuse when he played his usual lousy game of tennis or golf or when he failed to win the bid or get the promotion.

    He was like T.S. Eliot’s Hollow Men:

  “Shape without form,
shade without color.
Paralyzed force.
Gesture without motion.”

   ????????????????????????? He was like the Beatles’s Nowhere Man:

  “A real nowhere man,
living in his nowhere land,
making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
Doesn’t have a point of view.
Knows not where he’s going to.
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

    But then he became a leader. With a vision.

    He decided to add form—a muscular form– to his shape and color—a vibrant, lively brilliance- to his shade. He accepted personal responsibility. He renounced the status quo. He established a goal. He created a compelling plan that shaped the future. And he colored his present behavior to stay on track. One step at a time.

   The newly-minted leader took his daily dose of exercise as if it were medicine that tasted so bad it had to be good.

         He quit eating cookies, cakes and ice cream. He divorced Sara Lee and married The Jolly Green Giant. He ate more carrots than Bugs Bunny.

 a road       And gradually he started running every day –a half-mile, then a mile, then two and then up to 7 miles day.

       Running became his wailing wall and his psychiatrist’s couch. The sense of achievement he had after finishing each day’s run seemed to buoy his self concept. He wasn’t hiding from a challenge with his usual excuse de jour — overtired, overworked or overweight.

     The newly-minted leader lost a lot more than weight. He also lost his tendency to settle for second-best in himself.

     It was as if his daily dose of running gave him a psychological plateau to stand on– psychological plateau that gave him a whole new view on his life.

      Now instead of being that Hollow Man, that Nowhere Man, he saw himself as the Possibility Man in Stephen Crane’s poem The Black Riders:

I saw a man pursuing the horizon.
Round and Round they sped.
I was disturbed at this.
I accosted the man.
It is futile, I said.
“You can never.”
“You lie,” he cried. And ran on.

       So do leaders. They run on chasing their vision.  They run on chasing their dreams. They run on chasing their best. They run on chasing their possibilities. They run on….

        Exercising their leadership.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Exercise your goals to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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