“Life is all about resolve. Outcome is secondary.”— Waka, Okami

Talking to many of my clients, I find that they share similar stories. They feel blessed that we have careers that have enabled us to keep our jobs even in the midst of a pandemic. They also still have the same pressures they had before. And everyone feels like they are running through very thick mud.

Fortunately, I have experience in running many training runs and races through mud including dragging myself uphill using roots to climb my way to the top. The tips I learned on those runs apply to this situation as well.

Reset your expectations. Before I ran my first mud race, I thought I would run the same fast pace I ran on hard roads. Imagine my surprise when I found out that running through mud is twice as slow and three times as exhausting! Knowing that was true helped me be much faster in subsequent runs.

Ensure you have appropriate goals. The overall purpose of my running did not change. But I changed what I was trying to achieve with those specific rain-drenched races. The purpose of your work has not changed. Ensure that your short-term goals are realistic and connected to your purpose as well as connected to your customers.

Change your strategy and tactics. In racing, I had to change my strategy from “get out fast” to “maintain energy for those muddy hills coming very soon”. I had to change my running gear as well. In business, virtual meetings are, for now, the standard. Master your tools, amp up your skill at running them. Redesign workshops to be virtual. Change your communication strategy. Rethink how to reach your goals.

Help others. Many of the road races I ran were “every person for themselves” but the mud races were a community of mutual suffering and joy. We helped each other in those races. How you are feeling when you have a hard time connecting to your work is shared at some point by virtually everyone. Build collaborations towards your adjust goals.

Most of all, when running through mud, keep running. I have fallen in those races before. It felt like lying in the mud might be the right thing to do. I just wanted to keep resting until… Another runner stopped and reached out a hand. We kept running. The finish line was not far.

And the next starting line was even closer.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

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