I have been raising money for local charities for 3 years now and I am very pleased to say that collectively, my family, friends and I have raised more than £25,000, which is an amazing achievement. Much of the fundraising have been done by us tackling challenges that have pushed us in ways that we never thought imaginable. We are by no means a super fit family and there were not many of us who smiled at the thought of running a half marathon, climbing a mountain or organising a fundraising day with just a couple of weeks notice. But did we say "yes", of course we did. Why? Because we did not want to let each other down and we wanted to achieve something to help others.
As a relatively new and amateur runner, the thought of a lengthy run of any kind always fills me with so much dread, so why do I keep putting myself through it, I often ask myself? I always come to the same conclusions. Firstly, because I want to support a local charity by raising awareness and hopefully getting my wonderful friends, colleagues or family to sponsor me, but I think more than anything it is because I do not want to let anyone down.
Now, last weekend, not only did I give up my Saturday night (which is often spent drinking a glass of wine or two with friends) but I knew that I would have to give up the remainder of the UK bank holiday weekend because of the pain I would feel. I completed the Lichfield Half Marathon with my friend, Janine. Did I do enough training? Of course not. Did I eat properly the night before? Of course not. You see there is a pattern forming here?! But did I want to let my friend down? Of course I didn't.
Sunday morning came around after what felt like only two hours' sleep. It was raining and I woke up late but after eating a Weetabix I felt ready to give it a go, so I jumped in the car and headed to Lichfield. I completed the same half marathon last year in 2 hours 30 minutes - not a great time but for someone who smokes and does not participate in any form of regular exercise, but I didn't think it was too bad. I had actually taken 20 minutes off my Birmingham Half Marathon time so I was pretty chuffed. I expected to finish in a similar time and, being a little competitive, I wanted to complete this half marathon quicker than I had last year.
Janine and I were at the start line, sports watch and iPhone app at the ready to record our time as the run began. A short time into the run, less than 2 miles in-fact, Janine, who suffers with asthma, began to feel unwell and struggled with her breathing. Janine had trained for the half marathon but we have no control over what our body decides to do on the day and Janine's lungs had decided that today was the day that they didn't want to work properly.
As I have already mentioned, I am competitive and each half marathon I have run (4 now) I have always beaten my previous time. I didn't want this to be any different. But could I leave my friend, and let her struggle on alone? Girl power and all that! I couldn't do it. The thought crossed my mind several times and especially each time Janine told me to carry on without her and to go on ahead. I wanted to stick with my friend and not let her down, despite the fact that I felt that I was letting myself down by not getting a better time and pushing myself.
The constant stopping and starting during the 13.1 miles allowed me time to think about why I was going against my natural instinct to do better and to push myself, and my conclusion was that, despite my competitive nature, I was responsible for making sure Janine was OK and supporting her to the end of the run. We give up so much of our lives, both in work and socially, to make others happy, that this was in-fact my natural instinct, even though I thought my competitive streak would take over and I would run ahead and finish in a quicker time.
Anybody in the relocation industry understands the need to keep people happy despite it sometimes being at a detrimental effect to our own happiness. How many of us have worked over our contracted hours to finish a client proposal, missed dinner with friends or family to ensure an RFP is finished on-time and checked our emails before switching off the bedroom lamp at night to make sure that there isn't something urgent that has come in from a client or colleague?
Our willingness to succeed and support our friends, colleagues and clients is so powerful that we really will bend over backwards to achieve our goals and manage their expectations. Everybody I know in this industry are people pleasers and we will do our utmost to support each other to ensure the end client is happy, content and settled. We sometimes think that how we behave outside of work is different to how we are during the 8 hours a day we are (officially) in work, but lets be honest - we aren't at all. We are all determined people, with an ambition that drives us all forward and yet our appeasing attitudes simply mean that we will do anything it takes to make an individual happy and this is why we are in the industry we are in. We are bloody good at it, we are experts at what we do and we will continue to drive forward to deliver services to our clients that means that they can settle into their new jobs and locations without stress and worry. So well done us, and well done Janine for fighting through the pain of running a half marathon with broken lungs and finishing - getting over that finish line was a huge achievement for everyone, especially my friend.
We finished the half marathon in 3 hours and we are still suffering this morning, three days after finishing, but do you know what? It was so worth it. Just like checking your email at 22:30 to find an assignee struggling with their internet connection, or HR having a problem with an immigration application - it's worth responding, letting them know that someone is there to support them, no matter what. Go us, go people pleasers, even rubbish lungs will not stop us because when you have determination and a drive to succeed, nothing will stop you.