Playing the comparison game is an easy thing to do. We see other leaders, bloggers, and thought giants running alongside us and we believe we should be where they are.
Looking at what everyone else is doing, we take our eyes off of what we were meant to do. This wrong focus takes us off course. We lose our passion for our vision. And we begin to feel like we’re not doing as much as we should.
This is the wrong mindset to have. We cannot compare ourselves to others are doing or have done. We can only focus on the mile we’re in.
Reading Run The Mile You’re In by Ryan Hall, the fastest American half marathoner, opened my eyes to some of the recent struggles I’ve been having. I’ve watched friends of mine go on to start exploding businesses, talk around the world, and have a “larger” impact than I have had and it has gotten on my nerves.
Yet, Ryan’s words in Run The Mile You’re In has helped me get over this. His book showed me there’s more to life than what others are doing. What matters in my life is what God has put me here to do and am I following after Him.
Focus On Your Mile
Having run a full marathon before, I know the tendency to look at the mile ahead of me. Or the mile behind me. Or the mile someone else is running in.
Focusing on these miles takes away the joy and pleasure of running the mile you’re currently in. This incorrect focus also makes the mile you’re in more difficult.
Each mile of your leadership journey should be taken for the mile you’re in. Not the mile you’re going into. Or the mile you just ran. Your focus needs to be on the here and now. This is the mile that counts. This is the mile you need to get through.
Something I loved about Run The Mile You’re In is how each chapter is a new lesson. Ryan shares lessons based on Pain, Purpose, Failure, Faith, Success, Seasons, and more in each of the 26 chapters (get it?!? He’s a marathoner writing a book and it has 26 chapters and there are 26.2 miles in a marathon).
Every chapter brings something new. Just like every “mile” of leadership brings something new to you. You learn, you struggle, and you get through each leg of leadership as you move through your journey.
Learn to focus on the leadership mile you’re in. It’ll make the ups and downs of leadership much more tolerable.
Leadership Lessons From Run The Mile You’re In
I was sucked into Ryan Hall’s book because of his passion for running and his passion for God. I was also drawn in because each chapter spoke to something I’ve gone through in my life. It felt like Ryan was speaking directly to me. I believe you’ll feel the same way when you read his book.
But, what did I get out of Run The Mile You’re In? Here what I learned from Run The Mile You’re In.
1. The Right Goals Are Important:
Chapter 4 in Run The Mile You’re In talks about goals. While we may believe we need to set goals for our organization, we cannot forget to set goals in other areas of our lives.
We need to set heart goals. These are the goals that will let us know how our heart is doing. Do we have a heart for the lost? For the hurting? For the dying? How am I acting towards the least of these?
Maybe you need to think about how you’re treating the worst performer on your team. Or how about the team member who has trouble interacting with others?
Set heart goals in the way you will treat these team members.
We need to set performance goals. Performance goals will help you go faster and further than you have gone. These are metric based and will tell you whether or not you’re improving your leadership and business skills.
Set performance goals on what needs to get done in your organization.
We need faith goals. Something many leaders overlook is the condition of their faith lives. Yeah, they may be succeeding in business, but how is their walk with God? Is it anemic? Is it thriving? You know the state of your faith.
Set goals to grow your faith.
We need family goals. We set goals in every other area of our lives but we often fail to set goals for our family. These could be goals of spending more time together or traveling the country with one another. Maybe your family goal is to be debt free.
Set the family goals that are important to you and your family.
2. Knowing your identity is important:
Ryan Hall built his identity around running. He believes being a marathon runner was what God called him to. He believes this because he heard God call him to run around a lake when he was 13 years old. From there, he felt God with him during his runs.
For years, being a marathon runner was his identity. It was what he was created to do. Then, his body (and God) began to tug on his heart for a change of identity. He was no longer a professional marathon runner.
This change of identity can be hard. Knowing your identity is one thing only to have your identity change is crushing. You feel like you no longer know yourself.
Many leaders experience this. They are leading and guiding an organization for 10, 15, or 20 years and then they no longer have the drive to lead. Instead, they have to shift their identity to another role. This could be as a consultant where they now give advice to an organization rather than lead it. Or maybe their identity shifts from a for-profit leader to a non-profit leader. The roles and identity are similar but they’re different.
Yet, if you’re paying attention, you still know who you are. You still have the core parts of you and those leadership skills never leave you. Your identity changed but it changed because you changed.
3. Going through pain is important:
Anyone who has run a marathon knows there will be pain. Your body will rebel against the beating you put it through. You may feel the pain is unbearable.
I felt this way as I passed mile 20 of the Grand Rapids Marathon in 2018. My body felt pain like never before and wanted to give up.
Thankfully, I pushed through the pain. I kept going as I listened to my wife encourage me through my Aftershokz headphones. Hearing the words of encouragement helped me get through the pain.
Ryan experienced pain throughout his training and runs as well. He hit Heartbreak Hill during the Boston Marathon and felt like his body was on fire.
To get through this pain, he focused on what felt good. He didn’t listen to his screaming, cramping muscles. He focused on positive mental words, loud music, and scripture repetition.
Pain is a part of leadership. There will be trials and tribulations. Times where you feel like giving up because you hurt so much.
You can’t give up. You have to go through the pain. And you can do this.
Use positive affirmations. Recite Bible verses. Focus on the things that are going well.
4. Knowing when and where to transition is important:
Being a professional marathoner is not a long term career. Ryan Hall was able to run professionally for quite a few years. But there came a time when his body said no more.
He couldn’t keep up with the other marathoners. He would begin to lag behind them. This is when he knew he needed to look at making a career transition.
For Ryan Hall, he chose to go from a marathon runner to a marathon coach. He became a trainer of other runners.
He listened to his body. He listened to God. And he made a decision on what to do.
You need to listen to key areas in your life to know whether it is time to transition out of your leadership position. There will be signs that it is time to transition.
Pay attention to how effective your leadership is. If it’s beginning to wane, think about transitioning out of leadership.
Look at trends in your organization. Are you able to keep up with the changing pace of business? You might need to step aside and let someone else take over the reins.
Listen to the Holy Spirit. You need to listen for the still, small voice in your heart. The Holy Spirit will help nudge you into your next career transition.
Listening to yourself, your organization, and the Holy Spirit will guide you when it is time to transition.
Why You Should Read Run The Mile You’re In
There are plenty of great leadership books for you to read. There’s always a new book to release that will tempt you to read it as well. So, why should you read Run The Mile You’re In?
Run The Mile You’re In is chocked full of great content. Ryan Hall’s method of sharing his story is engaging. Even if you’re not a runner, you will learn something from Ryan and his journey.
The 26 chapters in his book are short and easy to digest. Each chapter has a specific focus and you know what you’re going to receive when you read the chapter.
While the book is written by a runner, his lessons are applicable to every facet of your life. You can read each chapter through your own eyes and apply the lessons through your own lens.
I believe you’ll come out a stronger leader having read Run The Mile You’re In. Give it a read. It’s worth checking out if only to discover more about the endurance sport of marathon running. Though, I believe you’ll get more out of it then the story of a runner. You’ll come out a better leader, a better father, and a better friend.