One client story that is inspiring me at present is Jeni Mumford’s running goal.
Jeni is not a Sonia O’Sullivan. She’s a blonde livewire who’d look more at home draped around a bottle of vintage Pinot Noir than flexing her quadriceps on a misty dawn Embankment run.
But she’s made her mind up and the Universe has conspired nicely to attract a place for her in the Great North Run at the end of September.
I tried running myself once but decided to give up when I was overtaken by a 90 year old farmer on a bike. Even with a ciggy stuck to his lip he was wheezing less than I was.
Running a marathon was my "big hairy goal" back in 2003 but counts as one of my failures in life, and I do mean ‘failures’. Despite thrice-weekly runs, a Plan, a raft of running books and the endless support of Andy and his "Running Commentary" I used to hit ‘the wall’ at around half a mile and never broke through it.
Perhaps I gave up too soon. Perhaps my goal could have been smaller and less hirsute. Knowing how hard it was, however, has made me enormously proud of Jeni and the way she’s embraced a lifestyle change in order to pursue this goal.
Though our coaching sessions are focussed on Jeni’s business goals, rather than health and fitness, she came to our last session feeling a bit uncomfortable because it had been implied that she was enjoying her running goal just a bit too much, and that maybe she should be more (for which read ‘totally’) focussed on her business and her income.
Now Jeni is a true professional: an experienced coach, a published author and she is also someone with a great sense of fun who knows her personal values and what her priorities are. So while she is committed to her business, she is much more than ‘the business’. But how to reconcile her financial goals with her intentions for increased energy and fitness?
I wanted to discover the monetary value she would put on her health and wellbeing. Was it worth giving up the opportunity to put in more income-earning hours just to go out pounding the pavements? Clearly yes, as she relates in her blog, "Run Starfish Run!":
"When my astute
and intuitive business coach Marion Ryan asked me one of those great
hypothetical questions – what amount of money would make me give up my
running? – I had no difficulty in resisting temptation. She gave up at
the million mark.
A million would make me quite happy I guess. It could buy me some of
the effects I get from my running. I could buy fancy running gear and
then pay someone to run for me whilst I book myself into a posh health
farm and get fit and healthy some less strenuous way. It wouldn’t
buy me the sense of accomplishment I get from each sweaty,
rain-drenched outing. I suppose with a million in my back pocket, I
could donate far more than I’d ever raise in sponsorship to Cancer
Research and the charity would – let’s face it – be more than happy to
receive it. And yes, that would make me feel good. But there is
something about taking up a personal gauntlet, about running for a cause, not just giving to
a cause that seems to attract stronger cosmic karma. It awakens
awareness more, in yourself and others. The greatest gift anyone can
give is something of themselves. There’s no true magic in money, in and
So I don’t need to phone a friend on this one; I already have the answer. I’ll keep right on running, come rain or shine."
Money opens doors, creates opportunities, facilitates adventure, security and choices. What we must remember though is not to see money as the difference between fulfilling our desires, satisfying our personal values – or not.
Compelling as a million would be to Jeni, it wouldn’t replace the sense of achievement she’s getting from running, nor would it help her walk her talk and be a role model for her clients. These are the things she values in life. Let her keep on running. I suspect the feel-good factor and her attention to ‘extreme self care’ give her heaps more energy and make her more attractive to her potential customers. And this more than compensates for the time she spends away from her desk.