The advice is to run at the speed where you can still hold a conversation.
I admit that’s never quite worked for me. I’ve only ever had one running buddy, and he was an ex-serious rugby player. He was, I decided, exactly the same as me except in two respects. First, everything from the neck down – he was built like a tank. Second, everything from the neck up – he knew no pain. The pace he ran at – for comfort – left me dead by the roadside. The only conversation I could have had was to plead with him to slow down, but he would have seen that as a concession to my weakness, and he would have sped up. I think he was the reincarnation of my old PE teacher, Pete Norris, but without the compassion.
But the image of running at a pace so that you can talk, is a good one to think about as leaders.
We must make progress, and act. We need to set the pace. Staying where we are is not an option.
But if everyone is running so fast that they’re (metaphorically) just out of breath, and with life’s greyhounds way ahead, unable to talk, chat and listen, then it becomes a solo race rather than a team effort.
I heard recently about a pastor having a reputation as being a ‘hundred-mile-an-hour’ man.
I heard recently about a pastor having a reputation as being a ‘hundred-mile-an-hour’ man. And the fact that he liked that. Now all sorts of things about that description worry me. I think about Gordon MacDonald’s wise distinction between being called and being driven. I think about the motivations of guilt and grace. I also worry about my own sloth and slowness too.
But I primarily think about the fact that teams need to talk. Not as an alternative to making progress, but as they make progress, so that they still connect and keep together.
Run the race. Set the pace. Lean into those hills and shift to a lower gear for incline. But make sure you run so you can all talk at the same time.