Of motivation and stickers

In thinking about today’s blog post, I was contemplating both about how the support I’ve gotten from Volunteer Maryland extends far beyond the confines of our jobs and the great wisdom shared by my action learning team coach Kapila Wewegama. Then, in a great romantic comedy moment, it all came together for me during this morning’s run. Cue the montage.

I’ve been trying to train for a 5k off-and-on for over a year now, and had abandoned ship several times, mostly due to bad weather or illness. In the typical fashion, I would legitimately be unable to run for maybe a week or two, and then would never get back to it. This past fall, one of our VMCs Sarah mentioned that she was going to begin the couch to 5k program to run with Team Fight at The National Marathon, so we made a bit of an agreement to do the program together concurrently and support each other via facebook. I’m glad to report that Sarah did complete the race, but my efforts were thwarted by snowpoclypse since I can only workout outside. Once more I’d gotten halfway through and was having a difficult time getting re-motivated once the ice melted.

Fast forward a month or two, and at a weekly support team meeting our program associate Kimberly Rice mentioned the idea of an office exercise chart. She supplied a blank calendar and an assortment of stickers in her office, we each chose a set of stickers and created a key, and a brightly colored honor system of fitness tracking was born. In may not speak to my maturity, but the lure of the sticker has definitely helped me drag myself out of bed early on more than one morning. The accountability also helps- it’s like a silent marker of “look I’m doing well!” or “hey, I could use a bit of a push” without having to actually gloat or ask.

Another great source of support for me has been the action learning team of VISTA Leaders I’ve been working with. Our project is officially completed and we had one last conference call last night as a time for reflection. Through this project I have had the great honor of working with Kapila Wewegama, team coach and facilitator extraordinaire. He is one of those people with an absolute earnest and unending belief in the abilities and goodness of those around him, and listening to him ruminate has been incredibly meaningful. Kapila gave us several words of wisdom and much to think about as we journey on past the action learning team project, past our VISTA Leader years and into our futures and careers. One of the many points he made which really resonated with me was that self-evaluation needs to come from within. As a facilitator, he always has participants fill out an evaluation and while that has worth, his true test is whether he knows in himself that he did his best. It can be easy to get side-tracked with “achievement” being the ability to check off lists or make certain numbers, but we’re capable of infinitely more if we always honestly do the most and the best that we can. He really stressed making sure to focus on bringing about good versus attaining arbitrary measurables.

I took this advice to heart in a very shallow way this morning by (gasp) not looking at my iPhone a single time. I’ve recently become obsessed by an app that shows me my current pace and distance run, but this time I decided to start it and not look at it and just see what it said after 35 minutes. I focused instead on pacing and breathing and using the time to think. I honestly felt really good, and hit all of my benchmarks a good couple of minutes faster than normal. So at the end, I pulled out my phone and… the app had quit 23 seconds in. That’s right, it was probably my best run ever and I don’t even know the specs.

I do know, however, that I am giddy with pride and that I will be getting one very shiny gold star on Monday morning 🙂

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