Running [for] Your Culture
Updated: Apr 21
I f&$!%’ing hate running.
I mean it.
I just got back from a 26-minute jog through the park near my house. Along the way, I tried to clear my head, focus my thoughts, lose myself into a meditative mindset with each footstep. In that process, I came to a conclusion.
I f&$!%’ing hate running.
“Nat, shut it. We see you at 5k’s, you did that 35k once as a fundraiser for your birthday,” yell some of my friends and connections.
“Yes,” I’d say.
“And, let me explain.”
I’m not talking about the payoff runs; the 5k’s where you’re surrounded by positivity, people cheering, peer pressure of other runners (or those three times your age who beat you: true story). Or, the 35k, where the entire time your focus is on impact for an amazing organization for whom you're trying to raise money. I did complete a 35k run once. One main reason is I kept thinking about my best friend & kindred spirit, Kendrick. If you don't know who Kendrick is, you should. After you read this, look at my LinkedIn profile and find the GoBabyGo! Workshop video in my profile's "Experience" section.
I’m talking about the 26-minute runs on a Wednesday late-morning; the run you squeeze in just after you had enough time for one piece of toast for breakfast (4-minutes) and then have 26-minutes left before your next Zoom call. These runs suck. They often start (at least for me) debating a 26-minute cat nap on the couch or lacing-up. There is no reward for these runs, no medallions, no leaderboard, no auto-social media post to show everyone how you did - unless you're tracking on Strava. And not just because I definitely did not break any records. I hate these runs. They start very slow. They start very sore. They start with heavy breathing. Simply put, they suck. To paraphrase my first college English professor when critiquing my very first college short essay, these runs are “worse than poison”. She really said that to me. It made me a better writer.
((“Nat, I hate this essay worse than poison.” -Nat’s very first college English professor))
Yet, I keep trying these runs. Why?
Well, now that I’m back home, I really did start to think and meditate on this.
I think it’s a metaphor for workplace culture.
“Dang it, Nat. I knew this was going to get weird and pitchy.”
But wait, hang with me here.
***AN INTERESTING STORY***
A good friend of mine a few years back asked me to run with him in a 50-mile trail run outside of Philadelphia. He's an ultramarathoner. Any race longer than a marathon is considered "ultra". He taught me that. The race he asked me to run with him consisted of 3-loops of a [roughly] 16-mile course. My buddy wanted me to run the last loop with him.
Because I want to make people around me happy, I said, “sure, no problem”. Then, in the back of my mind I said, "Oh crap! I f&$!%’ing hate running."
But, I am committed to my friendships. For the next few weeks, I started with my 26-minute runs. I slowly built up to about 2-hours and close to 10-miles. I wasn't flying by anyone on the paths. But, I wasn't preparing to win. I was preparing to trail my close friend, run behind him, cheer him on, make him cheer me on to help himself. The rules of his race actually explicitly stated that as a "pacer", I was not allowed to be in front of my runner-friend.
I showed up for his race day, and my good buddy gave me the best advice he didn't know he needed to give me in the moments before we took to the trails.
He said, "Just keep your eyes on your feet. One step at a time. Get into a rhythm."
It really helped. It really worked. Especially after the first 1/2 mile when I was looking at my feet, missed seeing an approaching rock, and legitimately twisted my ankle bad. It really hurt. But, I pressed on - for him. And yes, we finished; him strong, me barely.
***THAT WAS AN INTERESTING STORY***
This is the metaphor I'm talking about. Your workplace culture will have the payoffs - and it will be important to focus on the reasons, goals, measurable results from those moments; employee engagement surveys, conferences, momentous sales calls, investor conversations, presentations, culture "committee" initiatives and more.
However, the real results and outcomes from those payoffs come from the 26-minutes you dedicate to your craft, your team, your process, your system, yourself, to make it better.
Take a step. Assess what hurts. Take another step. See what else hurts. Take another step. If something really, really hurts, consult a physician immediately. Or, if you're talking about some workplace-culture metaphor, contact us.
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The Author: Nat Measley is the founder at YourCultureDesign.com - powered by research from The Organizational Culture & Design Institute. Helping organizations reach attainable, measurable goals by intentionally designing their people power. He teaches and researches entrepreneurship and workplace culture at various regional universities. He's been coaching organizations and leaders in culture his entire professional career. More at www.yourculturedesign.com
YourCultureDesign.com Launch Updates - We officially convened in 2018, as a team of designers, practitioners, scientists, and creatives. We soft launched summer of 2020 and will officially slide into our "shoes" and "take our first steps" with an official launch this summer - 2021 - we hope you can join us and cheer us on. It's a big pay-off for us. Stay tuned. . .
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