Sometimes it takes longer

When I was competing in sports in my teens and twenties, if I needed to get fitter or stronger, I could do it quickly. If I was injured, even a significant injury, I bounced back fast. If I needed to maintain my fitness at one level, I could not only do it easily, but I could also be pretty lazy and do so.

Now, in my mid-50s, to get fit and strong takes more time, both in terms of exercise time and recovery between sessions. If I am injured, particularly a significant one, it can take months or more to fully recover. I do need to at least maintain my fitness, but to do so I can’t be lazy or the drop off in fitness is fast and radical.

I was musing on this today as I worked out with my Pilates trainer, our third weekly session back since several months off for lockdown. I adore Pilates, having started doing it in my mid 40s, aware that men of that age need to shift from aerobic to anaerobic fitness due to losing muscle mass as we age. Pilates not only maintained my strength, but built upon it, all the while with awareness, patience and subtelty. Subtle? Yes. Try telling the 20 year old me pounding weights in the gym that, in Pilates, the less resistance I work with, if I exercise correctly, the harder I work my muscles.

I could “crowbar” this into lots of metaphors for leadership and business, but let me use only one.

If you are leading long-established organisations, sometimes it takes longer to change, sometimes it takes more effort than then the business was “younger” to maintain “fitness” without it degrading.

However, as an experienced leader, you can bring all of your knowledge, patience and awareness to the process, knowing that “sometimes it takes longer”.

Also published on Medium.