Inspiration Starts with Me

I’ve been leading a running group with my church. And by leading, I don’t mean teaching running. I’m talking about organizing our meeting location, leading discussions, encouraging people to talk and be engaged…that kind of leading. I’m definitely not the fastest but it’s nice been nice knowing that I can run with runners of all levels now.

When I find myself with the advanced, athletic crowd, I often whine and get down in the dumps about where I am NOT. “I can’t do push ups.” “I’m not as skinny as that girl.” “I hate to exercise.” And the list of negative declarations goes on. If this is you, raise your hand (hand raised). The reality is that is not the point of running with the faster kids. You should always run and/or hang out with people who push you to be better. You never want to be the one in the front because it means you have nothing to strive towards.

Last night I ran with the beginner group. I may not have burned as many calories as I would’ve liked or logged my high intensity cardio for the week but I learned a valuable lesson.

My words are much more positive and encouraging with other people than for myself.

“You can do it.”

“One foot in front of the other.”

“It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you’re going, you’re doing it!”

“You’re doing great.”

I truly did believe that he could run 4.5 miles. I knew it was hard for him, but he had determination all over his face. He was going to finish, no matter what. So why did I believe that he could do something that was obviously a challenge for him, but when it comes to myself and my challenges, I have no faith in myself? Why can’t I be encouraging with myself? Why no faith in myself?

Sometimes when we look for encouragement we look in the wrong places. We expect people to give us a hand, to tell us we’re doing great, and to push us. Me. Me. Me. It’s nice when they do it, but it’s not their job.

When you take on the responsibility of motivating others, you’re challenged to lead by example. It makes you want to be better. It doesn’t cripple you and make you feel unworthy, but rather empowers you. When you are looking for inspiration and encouragement for yourself, be that for someone else! When you are looking for generosity from others, be generous first. When you are looking for kindness, be kind first. Whatever you seek in life, be that for someone else.

It’ll come back to you.

Leadership: Skinny Is Not A Requirement

For years I’ve lead “growth” groups for my church, The Journey. Growth groups are small groups in which people meet during the week to build friendships and study the Bible. I’ve met some of the coolest people through these groups and still keep in touch with many of them. While I originally joined these groups to learn something and grow deeper in my faith, I was asked to be a leader nine years ago. I don’t know why. I was always the youngest person anywhere I went (and somehow nine years later, still am) and felt that I was the most inexperience in…everything. This summer I’ve been leading a running growth group. This isn’t my first running growth group. Two years ago I led a running growth group but it was for leisure. No one was a marathoner. We all stuck together. This time, I’m leading a group of runners who are definitely faster, stronger, and leaner.

Recently I was also asked to volunteer with the Urban Girl Squad (UGS) running groups. If you are unfamiliar with Urban Girl Squad, it is a networking group for women in their 20s and 30s that offers fun activities for women in NYC (fitness classes, cocktail nights, volunteering, etc) and you should definitely check it out!! UGS and Athleta, the premiere active apparel line, have partnered up and are offering free coached runs and then afterward the women are heading over to the Athleta store for refreshments. I’m NOT a running coach for these events. But it’s also intimidating to be a volunteer because of the pressure of setting a good example and wanting to encourage these women.

There is nothing I can teach either of these two groups of runners. I’m not the fastest, strongest, or skinniest. Who would want to follow my lead or my example?

Leadership and being a leader doesn’t mean you’re the best or the most skilled. One of my biggest insecurities in participating in any sort of fitness group or fulfilling any sort of leadership position is not being skinny enough. I know it’s wrong, but I judge fitness instructors who don’t have ROCK HARD bodies. Leadership is less about ability and more about attitude. It’s a willingness to encourage people, challenge them and help them. If ability has anything to do with it, it’s the ability to move people, to stir emotions deep within them that s/he would want to improve themselves and improve the world.

I may not be a great teacher, but I want to be a great leader. I want people to see how happy it makes me to run. I want people to run and exercise because it makes them feel great, not because they have to do it. Being skinny has nothing to do with it. It’s not the fat that’s weighing you down and holding you back, it’s your attitude.

 

What steps do you need to take to be a leader in your field?