Bring it on – the power of cheerleading
Following his first marathon, Senior Consultant Chris Finnegan, considers the power of cheerleading.
This month, I completed the biggest physical challenge of my life – a marathon. After spending more than four months preparing, I felt that I was ready. Raring to go, I was going to smash it, achieving a milestone I’ve had on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.
I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the race – full of energy, the miles were stacking up fast. I met some great people as I settled into my steady pace, with lots of support and encouragement from my fellow runners.
At mile 10, I even started to think that marathon running would be a breeze for me! I envisaged passing the finish line with a bright smile, my friends and family cheering me on, and then getting stuck into some well-deserved food and drink.
By mile 21, my thoughts had changed! I’d hit ‘the wall’ and every part of my body hurt. My leg muscles seized up, my hips hurt, my energy levels were depleted…
It turns out that subjecting your body to 26.2 miles of road running is a lot tougher than doing training runs of 10-15 miles. ‘Winging it’ on the day doesn’t cut it with a marathon (much to my dismay). The last five 5 miles passed in blurry emotional rollercoaster, which really put my resilience to the test.
Quite a few times I considered stopping. My legs hurt, and I simply couldn’t go on. Positive thoughts changed to negative ones, filling my mind with feelings of failure.
The only thing that kept me from quitting was the cheerleaders; the people standing on the side of the road cheering me on. Their encouragement helped me to find the strength to place one foot in front of the other and carry on through the pain.
“You can do it – only four more miles to go!”
“Think about the beer you will drink once you finish!”
“If Trump can run America, you can run a marathon!”
These cheerleaders helped me to visualise success, and really inspired me to go on. Not only did their words inspire, they also created a sense of responsibility. I had a to finish the race; I didn’t want to let them down.
Once over the finish line, I reflected on how psychological encouragement plays out in the workplace. Every day, we all need a little encouragement to inspire and motivate us to achieve our goals. We can all let negativity creep into our lives during hard times, and it’s often those around us who help turn them into positive ones.
The next time you see someone who is struggling – whether with a task, an issue, a personal problem, or anything else – think about what you can do to be their cheerleader. Ask yourself what you could do to provide that special encouragement, helping them find the strength to succeed.
Because without your help, their own personal marathon might not end with a beer and a cheer.