Never let life’s small lessons pass you by

Leadership High Performance

I was doing a little sprint training yesterday on the local footy field…well at least that is what I call it, the running that is. Others will certainly have a different view. My view is that I am an older version of Usain Bolt……..

There was one portly gentleman watching me.

I finished my run, and was wandering my way home, when he sidled up to me and said,

“I see you must have done a bit of running before – you are running in the box.”

I must have looked quite quizical, firstly that someone would be looking at me while I am running; and secondly then, take the time to give me some feedback about my running.

So he said, “You know what I mean by the box?”

To which I said inquiringly, “No, I am just doing some straight line running on the field….?”

He continued, “ Well it looks like you have been taught how to run properly with your arms in close to your body, not spraying everywhere – that is what I mean by running in the box.”

“Oh,” I said, “now I understand……but no, I was not taught to run like that. I watched and I listened to those who could run properly.”

He chuckled, and said before moving on, “A lot of people can do a lot of things but not many of them can listen.”

While I was pretty happy I could run in “the box”, a method at least proposed by my erstwhile onlooker and temporary, very temporary coach – later it made me think of why I was doing what I was doing.

It did come to me that a number of physical trainers around the cricket teams I coached talked with players about the efficiency of movement – having everything going in the line of motion.

I also had the good fortune to do a consultancy review with a panel of people who included one of Australia’s golden girls of the sprint track, Melinda Gainsford-Taylor. She told me one day that if you want to go faster, then you have to move your arms faster.

So putting both pieces together, it seems I now am running in “the box”.

Whether that is right or not? Whether I am running faster or not?….I am not sure.

But this simple little afternoon at the footy park spoke volumes to me about leadership lessons –

  • It is good to have some objective observation of what you are doing to provide feedback which you can choose to use, ignore or file for later reference
  • Observation and listening are very important tools for leaders as it allows them weigh up in their own minds what is valid and what is not
  • While all observation and listening can be of some use, it is always best to seek out the experts in the specific field, as chances are their insights will prove most beneficial
  • Armed with the information, the insights, and the means, the leader needs to work out if it feels right for them – does it fit within their personal framework. And if it does, then go with it!

I’ll go back to the park in a few days, and re-test my “in the box” running, and see whether it continues to give me the confidence in my running, and the feeling that I am edging closer to Usain Bolt.
John Buchanan


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