The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Last weekend I flew to Riga and met up with my son. The next day we both ran the Riga half marathon. We started the race at the back of the pack. Not near the back. The back.
We moved up a bit in the pack over the duration of the race, but for us the event was never about having an impressive time. We both like running, and we had a load of fun jogging side by side and talking about the finer points of Riga, joking around, and encouraging other runners.
Around us most of the way, there was a mixed group from Lithuania, nice people who were babbling and laughing amongst themselves steadily through the whole 21km race. There was also a young couple from the UK. Lots of Latvians, of course. Some serious, but many with a similar, we’re here to enjoy it attitude.
In my earlier life, I considered myself a competitor, and each race was treated as a serious endeavor. To be honest, I was fairly quick with a best time of 1:24 for a half marathon. But, equally honestly, I completely missed the point.
All those races are a blur. An intense effort to minimize my time. Other than a couple of notable events, I don’t really remember them. It was all about the time, and trying to win my age group.
Now, I am there for the process. The camaraderie. The races are more enjoyable, more memorable. I’m staying fit by doing them, and having fun. A great double whammy.
These races are a great metaphor for a discovery I made later in life. You know that saying, “Life’s a journey, not a destination”? I should have taken that more to heart.
As another example, in my first business I was on fire. In a tremendous hurry. We could not grow quick enough for me. “Get big, get big” — was sort of my mantra. And we did. We started in an extra bedroom and in a few years we had over 300 employees and 20,000 square feet of office space.
That too, is a bit of a blur. While regret is too strong a word, I do wonder what life would have been like if we had gone a little slower. Once we had over fifty employees, things started becoming that little bit too corporate for me. It was nicer when we could all bounce into a nearby watering hole for happy hour.
Speed is considered so desirable. In work, in technology, in goal setting. What’s the latest hack? How can I hustle to the top? Win win win!
Win what? What was the cost of entry again?
In our haste, I think we miss some of the most enjoyable elements of living. When you go more slowly, there is an opportunity to feel the texture of life as it passes by. A chat with your parents. Reading to your kids. Walking on the beach with the one you love. I like that. The fabric of life in your grasp.
Now, I have Social Jukebox. It’s growing. Not tremendously fast, some tech folks might say slowly, but it’s growing. It pays the bills, it’ll help put the kids through college. Most importantly, it’s fun.
I have contact with all the users who reach out to support, since I do it myself. Yes, I could hire a person, or several, to do that. But I like it. Being in contact with the customers, getting a sense of how they see the system.
But for me it’s not a business strategy. It’s an enjoyment strategy.
Yeah, I know about building a business to scale, and delegation. So what?
The way I frame most things now: How will they fit into my enjoyment strategy?
As the quote from Mary Schmich that serves as the title indicates, I’m in a long race, and only with myself. Like you, I’m unclear when my race will end. Nonetheless, my goal is to skip and laugh all the way to that invisible finish line.
I hope you are enjoying your race too.
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