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Pacesetters

Updated: Jan 15

When we close our eyes, there are many visions we can conjure up, many things we see in our mind's eye. There are many things we hope for and many things we dream but they are only in our mind. They are not a reality, at least not yet. It takes effort to go from the vision in our mind to the reality. Its a hard journey, its sweat and sacrifice, its love and hate, its pain and suffering, its joy and laughter, its relationship and sometimes its actually a disaster. Still we may hold on to the vision because while others may not fully perceive it, we do and that is enough.


Perhaps it was a similar feeling for Nelson Mandela as he walked his vision for South Africa. A vision that resulted in a 27 year imprisonment which expedited him to presidency on his release from prison. He saw a vision of freedom for his people but the journey to it was not what he had imagined. His pace was completely redesigned by the circumstance life dealt him. Nevertheless, a fine goal achieved - a goal the world continues to speak of today yet not as much as he is spoken of. If we knew what it would really take to achieve our wildest dreams and visions, would we still embark on the journey? If we knew who we needed to become, would we stay the course?


Our respective visions cannot be fully appreciated until we have made them a reality and even then there will be some who prefer not to travel on that road. They will be some who prefer not to follow the trail we have blazed. It takes tenacity, endurance and a considerable amount of self care to achieve our vision while blazing a trail to get there. In other words, the journey of getting there, is just as significant as the destination presented in our vision.


Today, many forget the journey and launch for the destination - in forgetting the journey we sometimes forget our family, our true friends, our values, our integrity, our health and well being and ultimately we forget ourselves. In reality, the journey should help you connect even more deeply with those that matter the most to us and are a significant part of whose and who we are, where we have come from and the values that solidify our life mission.


When I type in the word "pacesetter" into the google online search engine - do you know what comes up? Pictures of runners. Any search engine, Pinterest, Bing, they all come up with images of runners. I suspect without even doing that, the word "pacesetters" automatically conjures up the imagine in our minds. Runners are track athletes. Runners are driven to gain ground sometimes quickly, sometimes not so quickly. Short distance runners are driven to be fast and long distance runners are driven to endure. Both require rhythm and pace on the track. Which are you? Maybe that is a question we should pause more often to ask ourselves on the journey we are on. When we consider the targets or goals we set for ourselves, when we consider our life mission, before the question "Will I win?" perhaps the question to ask is - "Who will I become?" Isn't that the greater reward?


When the idea of "Pacesetters" came to me it was as much about learning to care properly for myself on the journey as it was about blazing a unique trail to get to the end point or meet my goals. This requires us to be great at leading ourselves first.


The reason "leading" feels lonely sometimes is not because you are alone, its because you are in your zone, that is, territory marked out for you - no one else has jurisdiction there but you.


I didn't realise at the time of my research that there was a leadership style called "pacesetting leadership" which is very focused on meeting targets at an accelerated level. Setting a pace is almost like setting the example of what things ought to be like. It is assuming the role of a trailblazer or the pioneer of a strategy or a new idea and ultimately I think, a way of being. For my new series, I want to touch on all those things but most importantly setting the right pace for ourselves to flourish not just in our profession or business but in our personal lives, our overall well being. We are a generation that is deeply connecting with the importance of the whole being and learning to put more emphasis on holistic strategies for achieving corporate goals, family goals, financial goals, relationship goals etc. We talk a lot about bringing all of ourselves to the workplace where this might have been frown on in times past. We talk about intersectionality and breaking all these walls that have separated us. In doing this, it is important to understand how we will effectively manage our pace of life given this set of holistic expectations. This will require even more discipline from us.


Pacesetting leadership was first introduced by a man called Daniel Goleman as one of the 6 leadership styles. According to HRDQ a research-based training company "Pacesetting is a leadership style where leaders uphold high standards and expectations for their team. As the name implies, the leader sets the pace for their team or organization by putting forward an approach that can be summarized as 'Do as I do, now'."


With this style of leading, there isn't only emphasis on what to do but the pace at which it is done - hopefully we understand by now that doing something fast doesn't guarantee it will be done properly or that is sets a good example. Although Pacesetting leadership is one of the 6 styles of leadership Goleman identified, I personally believe, we each dip in and out of each style depending on what the need is for achieving our goals.


I'll be honest with you I tend not to fixate on goals - goals are important but the pace, the systems and structures, the design, the relationships along the road to those goals are a big deal for me. I try not to fixate on goals because it is likely they might have to change in order to align with a far bigger picture. It is always worth considering whether your goal really gets you to where you want to be and becoming who you want to be.


A lot of who we are becoming is crafted in the every day choices not necessarily the goal itself. There are often many ways in which the same goal can be achieve.


In Michelle Obama's book, "Becoming", she talks a lot about the forming that took place in her childhood and that environment was a catalyst for the choices she made in her older years - becoming a Princeton University graduate and then going on to Harvard law school. Yes, she was always a high achiever but not at the cost of her relationships, yes, she always sought to be a great example but never without compassion for others and for herself. It is difficult to have genuine compassion toward a person or situation and remain critical toward them. This means, it is also difficult to have genuine compassion for our particular situation and remain overly critical of ourselves.


Much of the preparation we do in getting the right pace for our journey or race or the trails we blaze happens before the race even begins. These preparations also include the ability to care for ourselves effectively in the process, the act of self care, stress management, adopting healthy life style choices, eating habits, all that has been or should be conditioned into us before we start or attempt to blaze the trail or set the trend. It doesn't mean it cannot be conditioned in during the race but it will be a lot harder catching your breathe that way.


Speaking of breathe, breathe, both in the figurative sense and real life sense, is intricate to our pace. When we struggle to breath, we will struggle to keep up the right pace. The idea with training and preparation is that you have developed your breathing well enough so that in those stressful moments, like climbing up hilly ground, you are able to regulate your inhaling and exhaling accordingly. Life will always present such moments. When I think of my spiritual journey, I consider the breathe of God in me, without which I would suffocate trying to live on toxic emissions of every day conflict and craziness of the world around me sometimes. I regulate my pace by spending time with God in his word and that is a key aspect of breathing and keeping pace. This for me is strictly a spiritual exercise which overflows into other areas of my life. Sometimes, I need to take some really deep breaths! Like this year has felt like I have been running a marathon and firefighting at the same time. I have had to stop and take some deep breaths along the way because it felt like I was suffocating. There are other things we most do to exhale in the practical sense like going on a break, dinning with your friends, seeing a fun movie, spending time with loved ones.


We all go into races, presumably hoping for the best but we truly have with no idea what is ahead. The level of our success is often down to preparation and steadfastness. Endurance will be tested in a race. Passion alone cannot sustain you and talent is not all you need.


Ultimately, we are on a long journey in life and that journey requires us to set pace, a pace that we can maintain, a pace we might be required to change, a pace that leads us to achieve our goals and sustain relationship and our well-being. Without the right pace much can be lost including our true selves. A significant motivation for staying the course is in finding the right pace and involves a number of things as the circumstances evolve.


Be blessed!




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