I've been working on my pace as a runner recently with two goals: being more consistent and quicker. My distance has suffered in that time, but I've managed to decrease my splits from 10:30 to 9:15. I'd like to get to an 8:50 mile for at least 2.5 miles. That's the short term goal.
Over the past few years, I've been learning how my pace affects my goals. After a few months of working on my speed at shorter distances, my pace for a long run dropped as well. I've been doing more weight training on my legs to increase my speed, but that has also helped my distance running. My legs felt great on my long run last weekend. I was only limited by cardio.
Over the past few years, I've been learning how my pace affects my goals.
Exodus 14 is one of my favorites passages on the subject of leadership pace. I love to observe how Moses manages the rhythm of himself and his team as they execute a massive plan. Numbers 1:46 tells us that Mosses was tasked with moving 603,550 men out of Egypt. Including women, children, and elderly, the total number was likely over 2 million (there are some historical challenges to this number, but it was no doubt a lot of people). Throw in livestock and any other possessions people brought, and you're talking about a massive effort! This task would be like moving all of Phoenix across Arizona.
There are times in this story when Israel avoids challenges for the sake of morale (Exodus 13:17-18). There are times when the they turned right into a challenge (Exodus 14:1-3). There are times when Moses has them wait on God (Exodus 14:14). Moses, with God's direction, masterfully tweaks and adjusts the pace of the project to assure they reach the desired outcome.
Moses, with God's direction, masterfully tweaks and adjusts the pace
I can't imagine the amount of energy and focus it took to be this in tune to both God and his people. All of the work to get everyone moving, and then all of the work slow everyone down. Just about the time you get them to stop, you have to get them all moving again. It's no wonder Moses' father-in-law admonished him to get some levels of leadership and management in place.
If Israel had gone full steam ahead, they likely would have lost a lot of people. If they had always taken the quickest way, they would have lost morale in the struggle. The pace would have to be constantly monitored and adjusted to keep energy high, focus correct, minimize casualties, and support morale. It was a delicate balance.
There are some significant lessons here for leaders. We must be tapped into the morale, pace, and energy level of ourselves and our teams. If we push too hard for too long, we'll burn out. If we wait too long and get comfortable, we'll lose all momentum. Managing our energy, and the energy of our teams, is critically important to success. It requires a leader to be wise, mindful and dialed into the mission.
Be intentional about times to rest and times to push.
Challenge yourself, but don't run yourself into the ground. Appropriately challenge your team, but don't burn them out. Be intentional about times to rest and times to push. This is the artistic side of great leaders - a delicate balance in their own lives, and their organizations, that only the greatest master.