In my last blog post, I teased you with a story I promised to share with you from the motivational speaker before our marathon. Here it is:
John told us about the importance of finishing strong. He reminded us that we would be photographed crossing the finish line, and so we should smile through the pain and run it in. Everyone he has coached has received the same advice. One marathon, at the 26 mile mark, he called out to his group: “Don’t forget to run it in – look good for the picture!” One woman nodded to him, unzipped her fanny pack, took out a tube of red lipstick and small mirror. Never in a million years would John have thought to counsel against this, not being one to wear lipstick. The challenge with applying lipstick at the 26 mile mark is that your motor control is waning around the 20 mile mark, and by 23 your hand-eye coordination is completely gone. At 26, any available brain capacity that manages physical coordination is focused on keeping your feet going to the finish line. This woman’s shaky hand reached up to her sweaty face and red lipstick went from cheek to cheek, lip to chin. Her marathon finish picture looked like The Joker.
I remembered this great advice, and did not bring lipstick with me to the marathon. But I remembered it beyond the marathon experience as a lesson in communications:
I realize that you cannot be responsible for everything your audience thinks while you are communicating, but it does not take a lot of extra effort to think through a few of the implications of what you say and write. Sometimes, it is just helpful to bounce your ideas off of people who are different than you – lipstick-wearers, for example.
When planning communications, consider the implications of what you are saying to people who don’t speak Christianese. Consider the implications of an older person, a younger person, a person from a different culture, hearing what you are communicating and interpreting it into their world. To John, “for the picture” means looking strong – to her, it meant looking pretty. Now, John uses that visual illustration to teach an important lesson about the physicality of the race…something I’ll share in my next posting.