My heart soars when I learn about someone achieving what appears to be the impossible. Look no further than the story of talented marathon runner Ed Whitlock who recently passed away. At 85 years old, he completed the 2016 Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a time of 3:56:38! Whitlock had been smashing masters marathon running records for years, putting many 20-year old runners to shame. Consider the 70-year old woman who recently ran 7 full marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, and others still running in their 90s!
My international marathon running energizes me so that I can inspire and train professionals in Africa. Distance running teaches me that we are limited only by our imagination.
Whitlock said that unless we imagined ourselves doing the same thing, “it will never happen”. He asked “why don’t they (other runners) think they can do the same thing”.
How do you inspire others to commit their energy and loyalty to high performance? To begin, we first need to inspire ourselves. Who, or what, moves you to achieve higher goals? Tap into a personal role model’s achievements to boost your drive towards an ambitious goal. Channel this energy into helping the team meet stretch targets, while building towards a challenging long-term goal. Create lasting change by evolving key values and behaviours, for yourself and the organization.
Choose one or two values exemplified by the exceptional individual, or team. Identify the key behavioral traits which would positively affect business performance and have potential for a measurable business impact. Ed Whitlock was successful due to his speed and perseverance. Could your customer service team be more responsive and resolve issues faster? Can new product launches be accelerated, while still delivering a viable offering and generating early sales?
As a leader, what can you do differently to signal and reinforce the critical behaviors? Transfer your energy and enthusiasm to others at every opportunity, through social events, a unique elevator pitch, or even through weekly inspiration emails. Remember, to speak from the heart, and your communications with others will be perceived as honest and authentic. Embed the new values and behaviours into your performance management system, and learning and development strategy.
Bryan O’Connor is the founder and president of the Brighteye Group marketing and management consultancy.