7 Tips to Inspire Going the Extra Mile, or More!
7 Tips to Inspire Going the Extra Mile, or More!

  1. Make it easy to attend by confirming with details
  2. Be there with a welcoming smile
  3. Provide crossing guard cheerleaders
  4. Pacing and walking in tandem builds confidence
  5. Dancing and hit tunes a must - Pink Mohawk optional
  6. Water and cookies refresh
  7. Photo finish celebration

The  August Journey that taught me these tips:
I learned more about how to inspire achievement and engagement one Sat. morning with an incredible group of women going for a walk, than I'd learned in two decades of professional experience.

A very special friend and mentor just faced breast cancer head-on this summer.  Just weeks after surgery Martha informed me she has been walking dozens of miles each week to train for the Atlanta 2-Day for Breast Cancer for "It's the Journey" - a walkathon through the streets of Atlanta to help support Breast Cancer research, prevention and education programs.

Yearning for some girl time with my awesome friend (and knowing I could use the cardio exercise myself) I asked if I could be her walking partner for an upcoming training walk.  In her usual enthusiasm, she accepted my request and a few days later called to confirm with directions and details.
With my own regular walks at best 3 miles a day, I assured Martha I would just come along for the first 6 miles . . . that was before I found myself in a well-orchestrated, collaborative effort between some pretty awesome people and God. (!)

I arrived for the event just minutes before we were due to head out. (Not my intention, but it was a restless night and I had somehow turned off my cell phone alarm in my sleep,causing me to also miss my quiet time and my cup of half-caff to prepare me mentally.)

Yet, there was Martha, grinning and stretching . . . and oddly, un-annoyed at my last-minute arrival. She warmly greeted me and introduced me to a few friends.  Within minutes, the fun began and we began trecking through the streets of Sandy Springs in spite of dark clouds and occasional drizzle. (A blessing in August in the South.)

Within two blocks of the starting point, courteous gentlemen wearing orange crossing guard vests came cruising by on motorcycles, gently ushering us back onto the right of way out of the busy street.

Every few blocks we'd encounter these same men taking turns directing traffic, acting as crossing guards and cheerleaders, often with '70s and '80s dance music blaring from their radios . . . and always with a big smile and or nod of encouragement, whether they were being pelted by rain or waiving back confused Sat. morning drivers just sure they had a green light.

We girls walked and talked.  And we walked and talked some more. Every few miles there was a water car, and every couple of blocks more dance music and smiling traffic guards. It was a party in motion.

Note to self: something about dance music helps reduce the throbbing of tired feet and the burn of the largest muscle in the body (caboose).

And before I knew it, we'd passed the 6-mile mark. In spite of protests from the soles of my feet and an odd twinge coming from the foot I'd twisted on a curb back at mile two, I grinned at my friend and my new walking buddies, took another swig of water, and continued onward.  They didn't even have to talk me into it.

Within minutes, the precious cooling drizzle began again with a lovely breeze as well. (God wink) So refreshing!

Graciously, my long-legged friend paced herself for several miles helping me compensate for my not quite 5'4" stride that required me to chasse every few yards just to keep up with her.  And we walked and talked, and she introduced me to more journey partners.

More talking, another safe street crossing, courtesy of that guy with the PINK mohawk on his helmet, traversing a few more hills (this is Atlanta!) . . . another water car - cookies too (passed on those since I full on the great conversation we were having) and more walking and talking.

And suddenly, we were back at the starting point and Martha had her camera out for pictures to celebrate our finish.

Three and a half hours after we'd begun, I'd walked the entire 12 miles.  OMG!

Yes, it was the journey.  A very well-orchestrated journey.  Thanks to my mentor and very brave friend, Martha Lanier, and Randi (founder of It's the Journey) and all the awesome volunteers who entertained and ushered us safely along the route.

A huge thanks to my new "sisters" who inspired me to keep going, some who have fought the battle and won, others walking for family members (both men and women still in a battle), and some walking for those who went on to be with the Lord prematurely.

I learned more about inspiring achievement and engagement one Sat. morning from this incredible group of women, than I'd learned in two decades of on-the-job training, reading and attending training seminars!

Author: Sandy Lawrence

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