Back in 1980, The Boston Marathon was won by an unknown athlete – Rosie Ruiz, the first female to cross the finish line. She received the winners wreath and the photo op’s. Someone noticed her legs – loose flesh, cellulite. Yikes. The questions started coming fast and furious. Eventually the truth came out: she had snuck into the race during the last mile. She was a fraud and refused to admit it. She promised to validate her “win” by running another marathon and unleashing a can of whoop ass on her competition. Somehow she never got around to running. Rosie wanted credit for the win, she just wanted to take a short cut and saw nothing wrong with it. She ran, mind you, just not the full course. She ran the most visible mile, the one in front of the grandstands where winners are celebrated.
We see leaders like Rosie all day. They love to show up at the quarterly events, final presentations, big charity events, and especially the finish lines. These posers love to get their picture taken cutting the ribbon or holding onto their golden shovel. They love a good cigar with fellow Titans where they compare notes on the latest theories for getting the most from their team while giving as little as possible. These posers are not far from the sociopath Rosie. They don’t think they’re taking shortcuts. They’re smart, normal, and intelligent – as Rosie was – and come to BTL looking for another way ‘round. Here’s what they get. We ask them why they’re here. Oftentimes, the answer is they want a team willing to “run through the walls for them.” Good, we respond with a small “and.”
Run with them.
Run from the starting line. Run beside them. Grab them water at each station and make sure nobody is left behind. Run back to encourage the slower ones, sprint up to the front to push the strong. Cheer on all the support staff who’ve come out to serve your team of runners. Run up and down heartbreak hill and inspire your team through your pain and suffering. Don’t stop until your last teammate has made it to the last mile marker. Run beside them for their last glorious mile. Walk when they walk and keep talking to them as the few remaining spectators hardly notice you still working your asses off. Arrive at the finish line long after the celebrity celebrations have ceased. Arrive spent and still smiling. Here’s what you’ll notice. Your teammates, at least a few, will still be there. You’ll be surrounded by real people you’ve poured yourself into. Smiles everywhere. Smiles from teammates who just witnessed real leadership in motion as you modeled the way, embraced pain and suffering, and embodied truth in love.
Want a team willing to run through the walls for you? Run with them. Run. Enough said…