If you were one of the 36,000+ who entered this years’ London Marathon and crossed the finish line firstly, congratulations!
Secondly, you will no doubt be feeling different to how you were before. The race will have tested your emotional, physical and mental reserves and whether it was your intention or not, you will have learnt many things about your mindset, beliefs and ability that are valuable to you personally and professionally.
There are many parallels to be drawn around training, running in and completing a marathon that those who experience the pregnancy journey and transition to motherhood can relate to. Where I see a big difference is in the thousands of supporters who turn out to cheer the runners on (often in all weathers), the support we give to those planning to race and the respect we give to runners after they’ve reached the finish line.
Prior to returning from maternity leave many women say they feel a lack of confidence in their ability and a sense of having to make up for “lost time” rather than returning to the workplace feeling empowered, capable and courageous. There isn’t a cheering squad to welcome them back and they often don’t get a medal!
Here are 3 tips on how to ensure you and others can see the benefits from any marathon experience you undertake.
1. See the value and own it
Unless you value what’s new, others are not going to see or feel the benefits. At an impromptu mini coaching session with a Lawyer who has recently become a mum we reframed the way she was presenting her maternity leave period to be “time-out” from the workplace to “time-invested” gaining a wealth of skills to enhance her legal standing. Once she connected to the huge insights her old self didn’t have access to, she could see she was returning to work with far more value and worth. Feeeel it inside you and others will feel it too.
2. Notice when others are flagging
Any experience you go through is rarely linear. There are moments when you are flying and it can feel relatively easy and fun. Your pace feels good and the sun is shining. In the same way as a new mum or mum-to-be, all may seem wonderful. At other times you turn a corner, the wind comes up, there’s a hill, a long stretch of cobbles and it can seem a painfully hard slog. When you’ve gone through your own journey of highs and lows your empathy radar is tuned in. Turn it on. Notice when others are struggling and offer support. Cheer, clap, give back and notice what a boost it gives you.
3. Stay emotionally connected to the finish line
Apply the same passion and focus that you felt about training and running or having a baby to everything else in your life. Without an emotional connection our actions at work become transactional and no one wins. If this happens in a race, each step will become more painful than the last and you’ll be desperate to stop. Commit to work you feel passionate about and find this before you have a baby so that your desire to return is there. If you are leading or managing a team that includes mums or mums-to-be, stay connected and engaged and apply the tips above.
Lisa Barnwell April 28 2016