“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me. . . “
– Philippians 3:14
About thirty years ago I took up the sport of running. At first it was intended simply as an exercise program to get myself in better shape, and for stress relief from a high-pressure job. But after a while it began to turn into more of a competitive sport, not so much versus other runners as competition against myself, constantly striving to increase my pace, distance and endurance. And for several years I did just that. Then at some point sore knees, hips, feet and back began to take its toll – not to mention age – and pace, distance and endurance went into a gradual decline. Yet, despite that, after all these years I’ve stayed with it, motivated mostly by the need to keep myself in shape. But it’s not so much fun anymore, primarily because my body suffers more and more pain.
Several months ago, I began substituting cycling occasionally to give my body a break from the pain of running. Then I began to realize how much fun it was, and found myself substituting cycling more and more frequently. One day it occurred to me that my newly discovered sport was not only pain free, but unlike my running which has been on the decline for several years, bicycling was progressing. Here I am in my late sixties, and despite my age, the pace, distance and endurance of my new exercise program is on the increase. That revelation has renewed my passion for sport and exercise.
There is a world of difference, they say, between activity and progress. Running for me had been reduced to an activity that was in decline; while with bicycling I have regained the excitement of what it feels like to be making progress – a world of difference.
There is sort a of mantra among those of us engaged in the profession of executive coaching, that we are committed to being lifetime learners, and to encourage our clients to do the same. That is to say, ours is a profession of promoting progress. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me. . .,” the Apostle Paul wrote – notably from a prison cell! There his ministry could have fallen into a state of decline. Instead, even in prison Paul found ways to remain steadfast in progressing with his work, like writing an encouraging letter to the Philippians. So can we, even if it’s something as simple as switching from running to biking.