Ok, so I slacked off walking as much as before: I got the Fitbit badge for walking 3000 miles (that’s enough – right?) and used the excuse of not sleeping well (due to jet lag) for not getting up in the morning to walk. But this isn’t another Fitbit story.
My daughter noted my change in habits and said I should stop slacking and get back to my healthier habits. And then she sent me one of those Fitbit challenges: you know, the kind where a group of people agree to wirelessly track each others’ steps to see who walks the farthest in a set period of time, which in this case was a five-day workweek. I accepted, not really noting that all the others were her 30-something colleagues and friends. What was I thinking??
I like to walk 4-5 miles a day, mostly in the morning before going to school. But the others easily matched what I thought was a pretty good distance with ones of their own, and then some: and you could watch it in real time on that online app. They apparently all liked going to the gym late at night, too: I’d go to sleep by mid-evening thinking I was doing ok, never suspecting that they were running on treadmills while I was snoozing.
By Friday, the last day of the challenge, I was walking with one eye on the road ahead and the other on the damn app: I was in 4th place and not happy. Forget about being sixty-something: there seems to still be a latent competitive gene in me that was pushing me farther in the mornings and then again after dinner (and before bed). So there we were, 9:30 pm on Friday (the last) Night: I’d just finished a large dinner, saw I was only 3000 steps behind and innocently thought maybe I could close that gap just a little (well, maybe not so innocently).
I hit the road, and after 20 minutes the app showed that the one I was chasing seemed to be watching just as closely as me: and just like that it turned into what to me seemed like a race. I felt like Seabiscuit, sensing the lead and going for it; in my mind’s eye the younger leader of this challenge was doing the same. The chase, or was it a race, went on for 2 hours before my focused, some might say obsessed, efforts were rewarded: I looked and saw I was alone on the road and in the lead. The clock struck midnight.
That was week one of the challenge: in this the second week I blasted out of the gate on Monday morning, and kept walking at night too.... and finished this week in the lead again. But maintaining a 10-mile a-day pace at this, or any age, probably isn’t sustainable, and trying to be first all the time isn’t either. It should be about exercising regularly, eating sensibly, and balancing life (work and play) appropriately. Those will be my new goals as we head in to week three of the challenge. And just for the record: I’m cutting back because I can and should, not because I can’t.
My message this week is about being what you are, not knowing what you’re not:
“Dare to be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not and to believe in your own individuality.” Henri-Frederic Amiel
Throughout my career I’ve hired people or watched others get promoted to jobs that paid much more than mine. Sometimes I was asked whether I was interested in those other positions: the answer was always ‘No” because I felt I was born to do what I was doing. Putting together and developing great teams, using new methods and ideas to do things more effectively and efficiently, and putting myself in other’s shoes to better figure out what they might want or appreciate: those were and are the kinds of things that challenge and fulfill me professionally. Could I have done some of those other jobs – probably - but I was happy being what I was, and realistic about what I was not: I believed in my own individuality. Remember: the best things to do are those you’re already doing, and the best job is often the one you have; make them what you want, and be proud of who you are and are not.