Updated: Apr 2
My first road race was a Diet Pepsi series 10k in Beacon NY back in 1979. This event was part of the annual Strawberry festival that took place down at the Hudson River.
I was 16 years old.
I remember joining several strangers to jog back down the course for our warm down. Maybe it was the excess dopamine flowing through our veins, but we were very vocal cheerleaders for the runners approaching the finish.
But what I remember most is how the intensity of our encouraging shouts grew as we approached the runners at the back of the pack, and we lost our minds when we met up with the final group struggling to the finish right in front of the police car.
Watching those hero’s persevere brought a lump to my throat and a crack to my shouts. (Maybe even a tear fell from my eye, but as a man born of the 1960’s, I am not yet sufficiently evolved to admit that in a public forum).
This group inspired me. I wanted to help them. We turned around and cheered them on all the way through the finish line. We screamed and hugged and praised. We were wild with joy and good will.
This was a lesson I never forgot.
Rooting for runners who effortlessly tick off 5:30 min/mile inspired me to work harder to improve my performance.
Cheering for the runners at back of the pack inspired me in a totally different way. I was inspired to be a better person.
Little did I know that the lesson learned years ago at the strawberry festival would reappear in a discussion about my favorite subject, mentorship.
Last November I wrote Yoda and Why Corp Mentorship Programs Fall Short, where I talked about (among other things) how the pyramidal shape of most organizations severely limits the number of mentors available. This prohibits these programs from offering mentorship opportunities to all; or even most.
This benefit is offered almost exclusively to the 5:30 min / milers. [To be clear — finding your own mentor is not a corp benefit]
Who is cheering for all the rest of the runners?
Mentoring those with the desire and resiliency to work hard and dream big is extremely rewarding.
It will make you a better person.
Your efforts will improve how they feel about themselves, their sense of fulfillment and joy. Is there anything that is more worth doing?
And by the way, you never know, it won’t be the first time that someone broke from the pack and went on to win the race.
If you would like to continue the discussion, please feel free to reach out at Ajito.io
Till we chat again — C