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Marathons and Missions – the same, but different

𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐑𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐚 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐩𝐑𝐨𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐒𝐬𝐬𝐒𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐲 π₯𝐒𝐟𝐞: it’s long, there’s often discomfort, it requires perseverance, your mindset makes all the difference and the rewards for endurance are simply wonderful!
Mission life requires a lot of self-discipline as you constantly work towards future goals.
I am learning that a huge part of taking part in any marathon, just like mission life, is all about looking after your wellbeing – physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally – all of which effect your ability to succeed in the mission.
I have also learned that the best marathon runners have a structured daily plan and routine. Sticking to the structure provides a roadmap through the months of service and allows for more balance to focus on what’s truly important and matters most of all.
I have learned too that pushing too hard can impact your immune system and leave you a little weakened and shaken. Maintaining a balance is critical.
In marathons, and in life, sometimes you make great progress, and sometimes your progress is slowed to a crawl, setbacks are inevitable.
Running a marathon takes a long time, and yet time in the mission field fly’s by incredibly fast.
Participating in a marathon is exhausting – enough said!
One of my biggest lessons thus far – Small steps work more effectively over the long run.
7 months ago, I wrote a short article that mission life is a marathon, not a sprint. Now I know that for a fact, but I love every minute of it! πŸ™‚

Its a marathon, not a sprint!

“𝐈𝐭𝐬 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐑𝐨𝐧, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐬𝐩𝐫𝐒𝐧𝐭!” has been the counsel shared several times as Monic and I commence our service as Mission Leaders.
Fortunately, in the mission home, we have some exercise equipment, including a treadmill, which helps us to keep in shape physically!
I have however, never run a marathon and wasn’t a great sprinter either, but the phrase has been playing on my mind.

Key Things

A few things I do know, is that to run a marathon, several key things are usually in play.
– A Training Plan, with a few stretching goals is essential.
– Accept that there will be many obstacles along the way.
– Pace yourself and you need time to recover.
– It isn’t an easy thing to do!
– Endurance & stamina are critical, so you can do it for a long time.
On the other hand, and I am happy to stand corrected, but I guess sprinters don’t hold back – they give everything in short, fast, explosive surges of energy. They have lots of training too, but it is a different mindset altogether. We may need some of that mindset along the way, in order to get some key tasks done!
In the Book of Mormon, there is some great counsel from King Benjamin in Mosiah 4:27 – it reads “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”
Perhaps the message is simply this – diligent, steady and consistent progress along our mission journey will be far more productive than short surges of extreme activity, followed by long periods of recovery.
One thing is for sure – I’m grateful for the advice and the exercise equipment too, it really does make a difference to listen and do! It is certainly improving our physical condition by building some stamina and endurance!
What’s your mindset today? A marathon runner or a sprinters?

Endurance

ooh, ouch, Ouch! OUCH! 𝗒𝗨𝗖𝗛!

Maybe I’m just a little adverse to Dentist and Doctor surgeries. I’m not a great fan of either, getting prodded and poked isn’t high on my list of favourite things to do. A wimp, I hear you say!

I had to have blood taken for a medical test last week. As instructed I’d come fasting and hadn’t eaten or drank anything for about 15 hours. After some pleasant introductions, it was time to take the blood. I wasn’t anxious about it as I’d given blood for tests a few times before at a Doctors surgery. This time was to be a little different.

He started in my left arm. The first attempt, no joy. Then to my right arm, again no success. Back to my left arm, once again, it was fruitless! Back to my right arm, another attempt – still nothing. “Bone dry” he said! By this time, I was starting to feel like a pin cushion. “I’ll have to take it from the back of your hand” the Doctor said (5th attempt). A little more painful for sure, but finally, at last, the blood started to flow! What a relief!

There are many challenges in life…

Sometimes we all just have to endure some pretty painful experiences for a little while, before the results start to flow!

What painful moments have you had to endure?

Developing Patience

“The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time” – Abraham Lincoln.

Reflecting this morning on the last 6 months since lockdown on March 23rd, I recalled a scripture from the New Testament, from Romans 5:3, when the Apostle Paul taught “We glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience.”

I find that statement both fascinating and enlightening.

Tribulations π’…π’†π’Žπ’‚π’π’… patience, but at the same time they also help us to 𝒅𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒍𝒐𝒑 patience.

These last 6 months have been filled with a variety of tribulations – “distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution. A trying experience.”

Sad to say, but the next few months will be exactly the same, if not more challenging in some ways. Yet, I believe as we patiently endure these difficulties with forbearance and fortitude, developing within each of us, if we allow it, will be the strength and resilience to face whatever comes.

The daily tests of endurance that each of us are currently facing require patience.

Our struggles will continue, one day, one step at a time. But these times for certain, will come to pass.

How can you be more patient today?

The 4 best ways to get through tough times.

In difficult times, I frequently find little gems of insight by revisiting defining moments in my life. Fortunately, I have recorded lots of those occasions in my journals. This weekend was a challenging one and I turned to my journals reading excerpts from 1982 and 1983. A powerful lesson emerged that I’d like to share.

What was happening in 1982?

My journal entries reveal a lot about what was happening in 1982. The Falklands War. Margaret Thatcher held a huge majority. Italy won the World Cup. ET, Gandhi and Chariots of Fire were all in the cinema.

Friday 14th May 1982 was my last day at school and 5 days later I turned 17. I had no immediate plans and found some casual work through family and friends. (It was a number of years before I made it to University.) My entries reveal that it was a time of testing and trial. Mum & Dad gave me regular encouragement, in time becomingΒ my cheerleaders.Β  Summer quickly passed into autumn and a regular pattern emerged in my journal.

It was abundantly clear that I had loftier aspirations, and my journal indicates that I expended daily effort to find alternative employment. In fact, there are entries aplenty of a journey of exploration into lots of different possibilities, where I focused on writing letters, making applications and securing numerous interviews. It was evident that I was determined to make progress. On reflection, all these years later, I recognised that establishing habits and routines made me strong enough to endure the constant disappointments of the almost daily rejections I received through the post. Quite incredible really, for a young 17 year old. Sticking to a task, with gritty determination to succeed, appeared to be my mindset of the time.

And it came to pass…

One entry stated in early October stated that I had 47 live applications in due process! 47!! Eventually, success arrived. After six months of trying, on 23 December 1982, my efforts were rewarded with a job offer from Standard Life Assurance (as they were then). A few weeks later I walked to Dunfermline Station, starting in Edinburgh on 10th January 1983 and I caught the train into Waverley Station. I worked with Standard Life, for around 12 months before embarking upon another great adventure in London.

My life has taken many twists and turns in the ensuing years, travelling near and far in the leadership development world. Remarkably, after 37 years, in some serendipitous twist of fate, I have come full circle. Over the last 18 months, (as an associate with https://www.ontrackinternational.com) I have had the marvellous opportunity to work with Standard Life Aberdeen (as they are now) once again. I have been lucky to facilitate a whole range of learning and development programmes and absolutely loved it. Now, these same sessions continue virtually! When working in Edinburgh, once more I walk to the same station and catch the train into Waverley, feeling a sense of deja vu! At peak travel times, sadly some of the rolling stock still looks very similar from years gone by. Fortunately, I do earn more in a day now, than I earned in a whole month in 1983!

Lessons Learned

In the midst of times of trials, we can choose how we wish to respond. There are two kinds of knowledge – cognitive (what we learn and know in the mind) and experiential (what we learn by doing). Upon reflection, I’ve recognised some key knowledge principles that got me through the challenges of 1982 and throughout my career too, yet they seem even more valid for the struggles of 2020. It is a simple formula for success, let me share it with you….

Encouragement: The action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope

+ Effort: Use of energy to do something; physical or mental exertion; a try and attempt

+ Exploration: To search out, to look into closely, investigate, to examine

+ Endurance: Ability to last, continue or remain, to hold out

= Rewards: Something given in return for effort, service or achievement

  • π™€π™£π™˜π™€π™ͺπ™§π™–π™œπ™šπ™’π™šπ™£π™© + 𝙀𝙛𝙛𝙀𝙧𝙩 + 𝙀𝙭π™₯π™‘π™€π™§π™–π™©π™žπ™€π™£ + 𝙀𝙣𝙙π™ͺπ™§π™–π™£π™˜π™š = π™π™šπ™¬π™–π™§π™™π™¨

I recognise that these 4 E’s have been constants in my life. Indeed, they have been key principles that have enabled me to get through the toughest of challenges and most difficult of times. I’ve learned never to give up.

As you reflect upon your own challenges of today, please consider who encourages you, what efforts you need to apply in your own life, what do you need to explore and how can you endure it well? Although the road made appear to be filled with many obstacles at times, I know that following this simple pattern, always leads to success.

  • Who gives you encouragement to succeed?
  • Are your efforts appropriate for the challenges of today?
  • Are you exploring your possibilities?
  • What daily habits and routines have you established to enable you to endure well?

As a coach, facilitator, mentor and trainer, I regularly use this formula to help others find their way.