When I Don’t Take My Own Advice

21 Mar

Courage requires openness, vulnerability, and direct engagement.  Effective leaders work through their sense of shame rather than let it derail their efforts. They delve into, learn about, and forgive themselves for disturbing patterns of thought and action.

This weekend I traveled to D.C. to watch a friend run her marathon.  And to support her in whatever way I could.  I assumed that would involve running a few miles with her, holding her stuff, cheering her on.  The weekend was not about me wallowing in bitterness because I still can’t run long distances after two months of PT.

I also have two good friends who have taken on the role of watch dogs to ensure that I don’t overtax myself and get injured again.  I hate feeling that I’m incapable of knowing what is best for myself.  I like to be independent. I like to think that I’m intelligent and capable and can handle everything that life throws at me.

The weekend was a success.  She ran her marathon well (despite some bad hills at the end). I was able to run 5 with her at the beginning, a couple in the middle to try and find her (it was a bad neighborhood, even a non-runner would have run in this situation!) and then the last 3-4 with her to the end.  It was a lot more than the 5 total miles I had planned. But I did it pain-free and without tightening anything that my PT has been working on loosening.  A win, right?

Not so much.

                                                               At the finish. Yes, I had the coolest race bib number.

I felt bad during the race that I couldn’t run it all with Betsy.  But I knew it was my own impatience that landed me in my injury predicament. I felt guilty after the race because I knew my friends wouldn’t be happy with the mileage I did.  But I knew that I was pain-free and feeling good.  Even if pain-free does not equal injury-free. It’s hard for me to grasp that concept.

                 Gorgeous Sunday weather – nothing feels as great as the day post-race

I have a problem. I like giving advice. I like to think that I give good advice.  I’ve been running and training for enough years that I have a solid basis of experience and science to back my advice up with.

The problem is that I can’t take my own advice.  It seems slow and painful and boring and tedious and requires patience and time and healing.  I don’t like those words. I like speed and speedier and fast and faster and long and longer.  I like pushing my limits and seeing what happens.

Unfortunately, in this case, it leads to PT appointments and co-pays and lots of PT exercises and frustration and ranting at the very friends who are trying to help me with a problem that I caused myself in the first place.  Sometimes I am stupid and foolish and it takes other stupid and foolish people to help me realize just how stupid and foolish I am.

Since I can’t take my own advice, I am going to have to take advice from other people.  My challenge for the week is to listen to a good friend’s advice tomorrow without interrupting or justifying my past running choices.  It’s going to be humbling and horribly hard but I’m also encouraged that I will end up healthier and wiser as a result.

If you can’t take your own advice, but you find yourself reading statements in your MBA textbooks (this is all hypothetical, of course) that say we need to learn to forgive ourselves for wrong patterns of thought (like thinking that running in pain is okay) and work through our sense of shame rather than wallowing in it, then maybe it is time to seek advice from someone you trust.

I’m always available.


(Just kidding.)

Especially since I just admitted I am stupid and foolish. And take advice from stupid and foolish people.


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