Walking through downtown Lexington, Kentucky, home of horse-racing, I heard some clatter on the cobblestones. … When I turned my head, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Barreling down the path toward me were several race horses, thoroughbreds. They were running fast and breath hard. Sweat beading up on their necks. While I’m no horse-racing expert, I did know that I’d better jump out of the way, and quickly, or risking get seriously hurt.
Fortunately, just as I was about to get trampled, I realized there weren’t real horses. They were sculptures. After catching my breath, I looked a bit closer at my surroundings and realized that I was in front of “Thoroughbred Park” just off Main Street. … OK, you’re fast. Yes, I was just being lighthearted with my silly little “story.” These weren’t real horses and jockeys. But there really is a park and there really are some amazing sculptures of horses and their riders.
It was a rainy day and the water droplets did sorta look like sweat beading up on the horses necks. And the artist, Gwen Reardon, created a realistic look. I enjoyed looking at the details on each race contestant, horse and rider. Wow, very cool! I spent about 20 minutes taking pictures. At first, I was mostly taking close-ups because I was fascinated by the details of each piece. But then as I backed away, I was equally impressed with the overall scene. It really looked like a horse race. In fact, there are seven life-size horses coming down the stretch toward the winner’s circle. If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth a visit to Thoroughbred Park to see these works of art.
And as normal, it got me thinking. It got me thinking about the race we’re in. Some people call it the “rat race” (know how hard it is to find racing rats to take a picture of???). Other’s just call it “life.” You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy. It feels like we’re racing constantly. Perhaps in circles. Perhaps never getting anywhere.
We have cell phones, texting, FaceBook, Twitter, emails, Instagram, 24-hour news, iPads, iPhones, etc. to keep us busy. To keep us racing. To keep us connected. And I’m a huge believer in technology. It helps me stay in touch with family. It helps me know what’s going on in the world. It helps me see what friends are doing. In short, it’s fun to be connected. It’s fun to be on top of things. It’s fun to have access to, and use, technology.
Yet sometimes it feels like you’re in a rat race or on the treadmill that hamsters love. You’re moving and running at a frantic pace but you’re not really going anyway. You’re staying still. Or you’re actually moving, but you have no direction. Or you run so hard that you suffer burnout. Maybe not full blown burnout, but perhaps a mini meltdown. Have you noticed how many celebrities and famous athletes are “unplugging” for a while? They’re getting off the grid. Shutting down their FB account for a month or two. Parking Twitter for a few weeks. They need a break to prevent overload or perhaps because they experienced a meltdown of sorts.
You see, you can’t run a sprint our whole lives. You need space. You need margin. You need recovery. You need air. And quiet. And relaxation. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being in a race. Even the Apostle Paul said that he wanted to be known for “running a good race.” Life is a race of sorts. But you already knew that.
The critical questions are: 1) Do you know what race you’re running? Not all races are the same. Be sure you’re in the right event. If you want to run the mile, don’t accidently running the 100m dash instead. 2) Is your pace correct? The pace for the 100m dash is significantly different than the mile. 3) Recognize the begging and end of the race. In some ways, life is one long race. But at the same time, it’s also like a series of races. Run the appropriate race for you. This will depend on your priorities. Your like stage. Your interests. And so on. 4) Don’t let someone else tell you which race to run. Yes, listen to great counsel, but in the end, it’s your choice. Decide which race(s) to run and then get to it. 5) Focus. During your race, stay focused. Keep your eyes set on the winners circle. 6) Rest. Thoroughbreds don’t race every day. Nor do sprinters. Nor do marathoners. Nor do NASCAR drivers. Be sure to rest. To recover. To enjoy your family, friends and church.
Just like the horses and riders at Thoroughbred Park, you will have times when you’re racing. You may be in a race right now. If you are, are you racing smartly? If you’re not currently in a race, you will be soon. Are you preparing properly?
What race strategies can you share with us? How do you prepare for the next race? How do you stay focused during the race? How do maintain the proper pace?
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.
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