This Mile - April 2024

This Mile - April 2024

I like to write about running even though I have zero interest in the act of running unless a bear is chasing me. I admire runners! The runners I know and love are passionate about it, committed, disciplined, hard-working, goal-oriented, and focused; some of the same qualities that make great leaders.  

Even with commitment, those 26.long miles can’t be easy. There must be moments of discouragement as they think about how far there is yet to go. My sister-in-law who is training for the Boston Marathon shared this training secret/quote: “Run the mile you’re in.” Brilliant advice also for leaders navigating the stresses about the future and the should-haves in the past as it reminds us to focus on the present. How do you stay in this moment?

In the mile you are running right now -

Identify smaller to-dos. Some of our self-mismanagement comes from not being clear enough in our to-do list. “Build teamwork in my department. Complete 27 performance reviews. Analyze the 40-page report.” You’re not going to get those things completed in this mile. Tease out the first small piece of the biggie that you can complete. It is a game-changer to manage your workflow so that if you do have a half-hour, you can accomplish something that will fuel your motivation source.

Follow your goal and plan. Signing up for a marathon is different than just starting to run. The goal is the reminder of what you are working toward. It helps when the plan has you running 10 miles today, and it is raining. The time you set aside to establish clear goals and a plan to reach them makes this mile’s discomfort easier to bear, knowing it will result in long-term success.

Critical-think your worries. Can you remember what you were worried about on this same day last year? Probably not. Most of our worries do not come to life. Ask yourself if what you are worried about is happening right now. If yes, pivot and do something about it. If no, identify what is one thing you can do right now to mitigate the worry or reduce its likelihood. Come up with at least two alternate possible outcomes than the one you are worried about. Consider what you would advise a friend who had similar worries and listen to your advice. Or, go ahead and worry if you enjoy it, but just recognize that you are choosing to spend your energy that way.

Acknowledge what is not going well without negative judgment. If you are in a rough patch, sometimes it just helps to say so. But there is a big difference between, “Things are not going well, I’m never going to get caught up, this is too much, I can’t do it,” and “Things are not going well; what’s one thing I can do to ease the situation right now? Who might be willing to offer some support to me? This is hard, but it’s not permanent.”

Pay attention to when you need a fuel stop. If you do, take one. This mile might be the time to plan for future breaks. All the volunteers who host the beverage and snack tents along the running route don’t just show up magically, they must be organized in advance.

Look for, and be, a running mate. If the mile you are in is a struggle, pace with a friend for a while. Reach out for support, humor, and empathy from others who get it. We feed off each other’s moods and energy anyway, might as well join up with someone who is in it for us to be successful and will give us the encouragement we need and do the same for them in turn.

Make micro-corrections. You can only make small corrections if you are paying attention and getting oxygen to your brain. Runners constantly monitor their situation, including how they are breathing, and leaders need to as well. Bring your shoulders down from your ears, open your lungs, breathe deeply, and do this hundreds of times a day, in every mile.


We all have various marathons that we are navigating. Staying present in the mile we are in can peel us back from the ledge of anxiety, time-wasting, and distraction that drains us of joy. A little joy now and then sounds good. Find it in this mile.


Jo Anne Preston In Jo Anne's current role as Organizational and Workforce Development Senior Manager at the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC) her aim is to offer to leaders straightforward tools and inspire the courage to use them.
Leading The Way In Five Mintues A Day

Lead the Way in Five Minutes A Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team, by Jo Anne Preston is currently available for purchase.

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