This week, I watched one of my dearest friends run the Boston Marathon. It was an event marked by 127 years of incredible tradition, inspiration, and sober celebration 10 years after the finish line bombings of 2013. If you ever have a chance to go as a spectator or participant, you should!
At Decker, we talk about how SHARP tools are all around us. These principles evoke emotion, memory, and listener connection to our messages.
As I reflect on Marathon Monday, here are two moments that I plan to use as future SHARPs:
- For alignment and trust, it’s all about communication.
Witnessing the visually impaired runners and their guides cross the finish line was one of the most inspirational and moving moments for me. These teams practice for months to build stamina, understanding, and total trust in one another.
I was also floored by the constant communication happening between them. The guides were giving a real-time narration of everything they saw, what was ahead or nearby. Their partners were providing feedback and response. It was a circle of constant communication and insight coming from both sides.
The takeaway: A great analogy for teams or leaders struggling with how to get across the finish line. Alignment, clarity, and trust come from: 1) more communication, 2) more often, and 3) from all directions.
You could also use this story to talk about how great achievements come from partnership, collaboration, and cooperation.
- Set your sights on the next destination, not the final one.
My evening flight out of Boston carried loads of marathoners on their way home, proudly wearing their medals. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed, and the captain came on the mic as we were taxiing to the jet bridge, “I’m so sorry to everyone on this flight who just finished 26.2 miles at the Boston Marathon. But based on your connections, it looks like everyone is trying to make the last flight out for the night. So…you’ll have to run one last time.”
The woman beside me groaned, just having celebrated her 13th Boston finish. I said, “I’m so sorry. I have to run too, but I have fresh legs!”
She then turned, smiled, and said, “A quick jog through Charlotte should be no problem. It’s all about knowing where the next finish line is. That’s all I need to focus on.”
The takeaway: A great story for a situation where you find yourself on a path that has veered or when a new obstacle pops up out of nowhere. Reset your destination, even if it’s a shorter distance than your original finish line. Focus on where you need to go next and push for it.
- Take time to celebrate.
Celebration at the finish was so authentic and unique to each person. Beaming smiles, tears, holding up flags and signs, prayers, arms raised in victory, and more.
I was struck by a woman who stopped to bend down and place her hands on the finish line, taking in the moment deeply and fully as other runners patted her back. One man did some dance moves in front of the grandstands, hyping up the crowd. Impressive for someone who had just run so far!
Each person’s choice was moving in itself because it came from the heart.
The takeaway: We all celebrate success in different ways, but the reminder is that we need to take a pause to acknowledge hard work and how far we’ve come. Don’t forget to celebrate before hitting the pavement toward your next destination.
Which story can you use this week to influence and inspire your team, stakeholders, partners, or leadership?
And remember, inspiration is all around us. You don’t have to go to a marathon to find stories, analogies, or other tools that can bring your points to life. Be on the lookout for what inspires YOU every day.