It was 95 degrees with 80% humidity and I was out for a run on the wooded trail near my home. Why I was out for a run in that weather you ask? I was challenging myself to stay committed to a goal; to a schedule. I was expecting to feel a sense of accomplishment; I wasn’t expecting to be inspired.
As I approached the bottom of the large hill that’s at the end of my run, I saw the first couple of girls running towards me…and they kept coming! It was our local high school cross-country team out for a training run. They weren’t just out for a jog – they were running hills…in that weather! What I observed wasn’t each girl out for themselves; focusing on getting their tortured workout over with. I observed a refreshing display of teamwork. All of them – as they were gasping for their own breath – used some of what they had to cheer on their teammates as they passed. Sometimes it was a “you got this!” or a “you’re almost there!” And twice I saw girls slow their pace to match a teammate; to run alongside and encourage them to keep going.
When times are tough – when you have too much work, not enough resources, and not enough time – do you support your team or do you ignore them? We can all get stuck focusing on our own work and forget how important it is to acknowledge the efforts of others, provide encouragement when times are hard, or thank them for a job well done.
So what can we learn from high-schoolers? We can rethink how to be a team player. We can remember that we are all in charge of our own “run”, and we need to acknowledge those “running” with us. Those high schoolers were keenly aware of something that’s sometimes less obvious, less of an expectation, or simply forgotten in the world of work -- no one gets to go home until everyone is off the hill!
So whether you’re the coach, a veteran player, or a rookie; opportunities to lead change and change leadership are everywhere…and you don’t have to run in 95-degree heat to do it!