Last week, I mentioned that I recently completed my first marathon – a trail run through the mud, rain, and wind. It was an extraordinary experience, but the weather and conditions were challenges, to say the least.
To be completely open and honest, I didn’t start the event in the best headspace. In fact, I was downright surly. Reka and I experienced some frustration when we got there – things were very disorganized. It was also raining, muddy, and cold; the route wasn’t clear; and I hadn’t slept well. There you go…a good combination to create “Surly Kris”. We started the race and I realized I needed to have a direct conversation with myself to change my mindset. Something like, “Look, you grumpy bastard. This is what you have been training for. This is what you wanted to do. Enjoy it.”
The other side of me acknowledged that this was indeed the case, and knowing how stubborn I am, I would complete the event. How much I enjoyed my time on the trail (potentially eight hours) was 100% in my court. As I moved down the trail, I realized the weather and size of the event had driven virtually every spectator and supporter away from the sidelines. On one lap in particular, I literally saw only two brave souls standing there, supporting the participants.
Having been to many events in support of Reka, I have repeatedly heard how grateful people are when they receive support and words of encouragement. Knowing I was in for a long day and owning my experience, I embraced the idea that I could at least be supportive of others and encourage them. It would, at a minimum, be a little game I could play with myself…and it would act as a distraction.
As I started passing folks for the first time, I would smile, look them in the eye, and say words of encouragement like, “Looking strong,” “Well done,” or “You got this”. Remember that it’s cold, rainy, and muddy – nobody is really talking much. The standard response was typically a blank stare or a half-hearted smile.
Because the conditions were so bad, they had changed the course to be a series of out-and-backs along the muddy riverbank. This meant that all of the participants would be passing one another. A lot. I doubled down on the encouragement and started to add in sarcastic humor, “You have mud on your shoe.” Everyone was covered in mud. “Lovely day, isn’t it?” I’d ask fellow runners. I would also speak my usual words of encouragement. In the second round of passing, people started responding more with positive phrases like, “Thanks, you too”.
As the passings continued, a shift in the energy exchange occurred. For starters, it was clearly a one-way street, where I was giving positive energy out with little in return; not only to encourage others, but to change my own mood. This quickly transitioned to a fairly even exchange, in which I began receiving as much – if not more – than I was giving.
That was about the time the food poisoning kicked in and I lost my lunch. Again and again. The wind really picked up and I lost my enthusiasm for encouraging others. I kept doing it, but it was a lackluster attempt.
But then, an amazing thing happened: All that positivity came back to me with more energy than I ever gave out. Others were fully encouraging me and were excited to see me coming up. I saw them encouraging others on the trail, too. This isn’t to say there weren’t many participants encouraging each other as they worked their way to the finish line. As Reka passed me (she’s much faster), she told me positive words and gave me a kiss (yes, this helped too!).
What this all means to me is that starting out as a grumpy bastard who needed to change his mindset by helping others assisted me in doing just that. And when I needed to start digging deep within myself to complete the event after getting sick, I was able to that with the help and encouragement of those strangers around me who I had given to earlier.
I had received so much more than I had given.
I believe this is a recurring theme in both our personal and business lives. I truly believe that when we give with the purest intentions, we receive even more in return.
Going forward, I challenge you to consider how you can make a positive impact on someone else’s life without expecting anything in return. You may just be surprised how it works out.
Interested in learning how to give more than you get? Are you wondering how to be less grumpy and more encouraging with your team? That’s what we do! Reach out to us today for a no-obligation consultation to find out how.