Leadership: It’s an Endurance Sport

leadership Feb 13, 2019
One day at a time

The important things in life are not accomplished all at once. They happen one day at a time. Life is an endurance race, not a sprint.

This is especially true of leadership. It’s not a quick fix. It’s a journey built on character, enough character to sustain yourself over years of effort and growth.

Geoffrey Mutai knows

Few people understand endurance better than Geoffrey Mutai. He was born the youngest of 11 children and grew up in a poor family living in Kenya. As a teenager, he already knew what he wanted most from life. He wanted to be a professional marathon runner. Now you need to put this into context. He had other obligations besides his interest in running. His family relied on him to contribute financial support. So, he took a series of back-breaking jobs, and he got up early every morning to run before he went to work. To the outside world, he looked foolish for trying to do so much. People in his community suggested that his goals were too lofty, and he’d do better to forget about running. In 2011, he won the Boston Marathon in what was then the fastest time ever recorded for a marathon. He is now able to provide for his family and community, and he is leading the life he loves. If you’d like to learn more of his story, check out this article, Rags to Riches.

Secrets to endurance

How did Geoffrey Mutai do it? What makes a person endure? In his book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, John C. Maxwell explores the qualities that help a leader endure. It’s part of his chapter on the Law of Process.

Here are some of the secrets:

  1. Respect: Great leaders operate from a position of respect, not only for others, but for themselves. No matter what other people said, Geoffrey Mutai knew what he was made of. For those of us not able to win marathons, this quality might seem like a gift from above. But it’s not. It is a gift from within. We can all nurture self-respect and respect for others on a daily basis.
  2. Experience: Leaders take everything that happens in their life and they learn from it. This includes both difficult experiences and moments of triumph. All experience leads to improvement.
  3. Emotional strength: Resilience takes effort. As great leaders know, in order to keep on keeping on, we all need to take care of ourselves. Sustain your relationships, practice relaxing, and think about your definiteness of purpose.
  4. People skills: Great leaders connect with others. They use their ability to pay attention as a way of restoring the world to wholeness.
  5. Discipline: Leaders know when to relax and when to dig in. Their discipline is informed by wise use of time. They are present for others and they take time to reflect.
  6. Vision: Just as Geoffrey Mutai was crystal clear on what he wanted from life, so are great leaders. They see the road ahead and share their goals with others.
  7. Momentum: What keeps a leader moving ahead? It’s the milestones on the journey. By monitoring their progress, leaders keep the process going forward.
  8. Timing: Great leaders have their ears wide open. They look for current opportunities and they follow business trends. That’s how they find the perfect timing.

As John C. Maxwell says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

Call to Action

How will you cultivate endurance? Pick three items from the list of endurance secrets and commit to nurturing those attributes in yourself.


The best is yet to come. It starts with you.

Your friends,
The UpCloseTeam