Two Principles Practiced by Leaders who Last

Will your leadership end in a small heap of burned out ashes or will you leave a Lasting Legacy?

In High School I joined the track team and signed up to run 800 meters which is about a half a mile.  I trained hard and on the day of the track meet I was ready to go.  This was a special day because my “girlfriend” was in the stands.  Okay I had never actually spoken to her but I “wished” she was my girlfriend.  I thought that maybe winning this race would make it happen.  The gun went off!  I took off like a shot.  After the first turn I was ahead of everybody, then one by one runners began to pass me.  As I started the second lap, I ran out of gas. I tried to keep going but it seemed impossible. My stomach sent a message to my brain. Evidently the sandwich I had eaten earlier in the day did not want to run with me anymore.  Before I knew it I was kneeling on the infield grass.  The sandwich came up first, followed by a grape I had eaten when I was seven.

My “girlfriend” was not impressed.  I left the stadium in defeat without finishing the race.

As I look back on that experience I am reminded of two simple principles that are embraced by leaders that last.

1.   Pace yourself.
Life is a marathon, not a 100 yard dash.  The prize goes to the man or women who finishes well, not to the one who is first out of the blocks.  Remember that the race of life does not have a winners circle.  It only has a finish line.

2.  Don’t give up.
My biggest regret is not that I created a grape spectacle, it is that I didn’t finish.  Runner, philosopher George Sheehan said: “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” –

Where are you in the race? Be encouraged today.  Catch your breath.  Everyone gets to finish.  Pace yourself for the long haul so you can finish well.  Don’t give up The tape at the finish line will still be waiting unbroken when you arrive. I look forward to your comments.



  1. when it comes to my work place I had a managers postion for 18 months during those 18 months I had people below me that would go behind my back and say things about me that were not true, and also during that time my sister passed away 8 days after her 4 child was born, the company ask me either to step down from my postion and accept another postion or leave the company I accepted the lower postion and I have enjoyed this postion so much more and less stressful it is still in management even though I may not have finished one race I am a head in another race , I am not having to watch my back any more, I am able to spend more time with my sisters 4 kids, and I am much happier and more relaxed in my job. and I just recieved an award for 20 years of service with this company.

    1. Author

      Donna, You raise a good point. It is important to make sure you are in the right race. Thank you for sharing this.

      1. you welcome ken. thank you for sharing your talent through writting, through your hoummor and your faith with us all , you are a total blessing, loved your grand rapids concert. thank you again for using the talent god gave you to spread his word with so many people , I have my nieces and nephew my sisters 4 kids watch your dvd’s that I have and we all get a good laugh which is the best medicine doctor could perscribe .

  2. It occurred to me that the spiritual race Christians are in is not a competition; we are not racing against those along side of us, therefore pace has no bearing whatsoever! If we wanted to, we could lie down and roll down the trail. When you think about it, all that really matters is that we stay between the lines.

    Consider the finish-line. It’s not a location, it’s a moment-in-time; it is in fact the second you take your last breath on the track and your first breath in Heaven…almost simultaneously. In actuality, it doesn’t matter ‘where you were’ on the course, but ‘that you were’ on the course.

    1. Author

      David, The fact that the spiritual race is not a competition is exactly my point. But pace is important. Not to beat others in the race but to manage our energy to be able to continue to run. You can burn out and become helpless unless you balance your life. In regard to the finish line, my comment about it always being there is related directly to the fact that the finish line is not at the end of any single project. The finish line IS that moment when you take your last breath and have stayed the course. Very thoughtful comments. Thank you for contributing.

      1. One more thought on pace: I hear you and agree with you for the most part;[that]for an invigorating spiritual ‘race-event-experience’ one’s pace should be steady, consistent, and monodirectional. However, I cannot help but think of the thief on the cross whose race was over before he even left the starting blocks. Pace-ciously speaking, his life was a waste, but yet somehow he still won his race. God is good.

  3. Ken, my 6-year-old son is a BMX bicycle racer and your point number 2 about not giving up is SO true. A couple of weeks ago, my son was in a distant second about halfway through the race. He didn’t give up, and pushed and pedaled for all he was worth. At the halfway point I was cheering him on: “Pedal son, pedal, you can do it!” He went into a “zone” or something and steadily closed the gap with the first-place contender. In the split second before the finish line he gave one last sprint and crossed into first place. I went wild. I turned to look at my wife in the bleachers. She, and everyone else in the bleachers, were on their feet, wildly clapping and screaming. The announcer was beside himself with incredulous praise: “That finish is what sport is all ABOUT!! That was the best race of the day, hands down!”

    Yes, he’s my son and I’m biased. Still, as long as I live, I will never forget how proud I was of him seeing him give everything he had to the race, his unwavering drive and determination, and his belief in beating the odds.

    Thanks for letting me share.

    1. Author

      Lee, Very inspiring! I can only imagine how excited you were. I too am proud of your son. Please tell him. Thank you for the story.

  4. Many years ago I was a runner and entered races from 5k’s to the Pikes Peak Ascent. I was not the fastest, in fact I usually came in last, but I finished and had fun along the way.
    Now I am in a different kind of race and I needed the reminder to not rush but to pace myself because it will be a long race. I am an aspiring writer and I have three particially finished novels and another rolling around in my head. The race before me is to pick one of these novels and finish it and to allow myself the time to do it right.
    I took a deep breath when I read this and relaxed, I know how to train and I know how to finish, now I need to put that knowledge to work in my writing.
    Thanks for a great post.

    1. Author

      Diane, I have often thought about how fun it would be to run that race. My favorite line in your post is this, “I took a deep breath when I read this and relaxed.” That made the post worth writing. NOW if I could just learn to do that!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Thank you for your insights. I am thankful for the “race track” God placed me on! Growing up with a father that was very abusive to my mother and my siblings, God showed us over and over to keep depending on Him. My mom was a very Godly woman who prayed. God answered her prayers and all four of us are serving Him and have wonderful families and spouses. I work in a middle school and help kids who struggle with their work. Often the students I work with end up sharing their hardships and I have the opportunity to encourage them and let them know they are not alone. I am thankful for my past and God helping me keep on keeping on when I couldn’t do it. His RACE is worth running!

  6. And don’t compare yourselves with others. I love that there is only a finish line and no winners circle. Removes the pressure to compete.

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