One of my traditions is a New Year’s Day run. I’ve done one for at least 25 years now, sometimes alone, oftentimes with one or more family members. It’s been one of my ways of starting each year on the right foot (no pun intended!).
You see, I’m a runner.
It took me a long time to come to that conclusion. While I have run for over 45 years in one form or another I never really thought of myself as a runner. It started in Middle School when we ran for sports, and continued through High School as I developed a recognition that rather than being a way for coaches to inflict their own special brand of torture on unsuspecting athletes, running could actually improve my performance. In college running became my “go to” way to deal with stress, clear my mind and battle the “freshman 15”.
I guess it became more of a routine in my 30’s as I traversed marriage, career and kids. Running was always there as an escape, a respite, a rejuvenator, pretty much what I needed when I needed it.
But I never thought of myself as a runner. You see, I didn’t come to running for any particular reason. I wasn’t battling addiction, a failed relationship, broken career, training for marathons or any other of the many good reasons people choose to start. Rather, it just sort of found me.
Moreover, I’m not fast! Even on the very best days of my youth, no stretch of the imagination would qualify me as fast. Deliberate? Perhaps. Plodding? Probably more like it. Persistent? For sure!
What’s most interesting is I can’t say I like to run. Oh I enjoy tackling a new city via a nice downtown run or spending an afternoon jogging on a scenic trail. But like it? No, not really. Do I get that impervious runner’s high? I don’t know. Maybe. I do usually enjoy a libation upon completion so whether it’s the buzz from combining dehydration and alcohol or a true runner’s high, who knows? But I do gain a sense of satisfaction and completion and I suppose that’s something.
More than anything I think I’m afraid to see what might happen if I stop! And this is where I get to the point of all of this……………….
So how is running connected to Amazon HQ2? For the last half of 2017 virtually every mid-size and larger city in North America dropped everything in an effort to distinguish themselves in a crowded field of competitors for this crown jewel. Truly a once in a generation opportunity, in one fell swoop Amazon has changed the landscape of corporate HQ relocation. On their terms!! And that’s the rub of all of this — instead of playing by the rules, Amazon decided to create their own rules and do something different. Really pretty much everything different.
And yet, 238 communities didn’t take the bait but instead tried to force Amazon into their paradigm. What? Did I really say that?
Let me ask all of you readers a question? Who did something different this time? Truly different. Something you had never done before? Who looked at the RFP process and said to themselves “Amazon is choosing an entirely new approach so maybe we should too?”. Who was afraid NOT to do things the way we always do because of what might happen if we don’t?
After all I’m a runner and I’m afraid of what might happen if I DON’T run!
Now the facts are I know that what I just said is not true. Many of you DID do things differently. Fundamentally different! I personally witnessed collaboration in regions that don’t collaborate, creativity and innovation from centers of conservatism, and maybe most impressively, restraint where the rule of the day was unbridled, perhaps even blind optimism. In fact, the hardest thing I saw more than one community do is say “no, Amazon HQ2 just isn’t our thing”! Now THAT took courage!
I will keep running. But it’s not because I am afraid of what will happen if I stop, but rather because I KNOW what happens if I keep going!
Like running, the residual, lasting effect of HQ2 is not so much the jobs and prestige; after all, only one in 238 will experience that euphoria. Rather it’s the lasting impact of forcing yourself to get better and do things differently. Slugging through the first mile because you know if you can plough through it there are good things on the other side. Pushing your community to work better together because you know the end result will be incredible for a lifetime.
In 2018, let’s keep running!