It’s a marathon, not a sprint

    group of marathoners running

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    This weekend I did something pretty crazy. Okay, it was half crazy. I was among 13,000 who participated and finished the Aramco Half Marathon. And I wasn’t really ready. My mind was ready but my body was not in the best shape. I had just landed too, from a trip to Saudi Arabia.

    But are we ever really ready for what’s in front of us?

    Being ready is a state of mind. In my book, Grow with the Flow, Embrace Difference, Overcome Fear, and Progress with Purpose, I talk about “not being ready”.

    Think about how often you confront a challenge by saying, “I’m not ready.” Here’s a secret, one I’ve learned the hard way, and one I still need to remind myself: those three words are useless. Note that I’m not saying they are false. Quite the contrary, they’re always true—no one is ever ready. But just because they’re true doesn’t mean they’re useful.

    Nobody in the world, in any field, at any point in history, is ever ready. Change is hard. Leaping is a big deal. But one group of people regularly fools us into thinking they are. It’s a large and organized group, and its members are excellent at slinging convincing illusions of their effectiveness. I like to refer to this group as Other People.

    Other people always look ready, don’t they? Other people look on the ball, like they know what they’re doing, they know their stuff, they’ve been up all night preparing. Obviously, I don’t mean all other people. To be sure, lots of people look outright foolish. They don’t inspire our confidence. But these people aren’t nearly as distracting as those folks around us who just always look ready.

    And here’s the trick. If we weren’t focused on them and focused on our own journey, we’d probably be further along in the journey. All human beings do something daily that we don’t always admit to, even though it defines the very core of our humanity. Human beings improvise.

    So I improvised. I pivoted.

    I walked. I even crawled. I texted friends and I took all of the love I could get to cross that finish.

    Doing anything worth value, is hard. In our organizations, changing culture and shifting course is difficult work. It takes focus and an unwavering commitment to being hit in the face, falling flat, and getting up again to face more. Many companies struggle with the journey of diversity and inclusion because at times it can feel like four steps forward and ten steps back. What’s different though is for those who can sustain change keep getting up for more.

    Companies that commit to change are those that make inclusion reflective of their values, not priorities. Values are about running the marathon, not the sprint.

    So I’m sore today, but like in the marathon, I’m looking forward to the next leg of the race and working to increase my pace, as we do in this work to drive a more equal and sustainable world.

    Join us this week with one of my friends and complete #WomanCrush, Kirsty Bashforth on culture at our first Coach’s Corner for the year. Bad*** Bashforth was named in the Financial Times Top 100 Influential Women Leaders in Engineering list in 2019. Live from London, Kirsty will walk us through a framework and we’ll talk about why the marathon for change in culture is so damn hard.