Provision #122: Look Ahead

LifeTrek Provision

Ron Kenoly sings a song that includes the refrain, “If you catch hell don’t hold it, if you’re going through hell don’t stop.” That’s a LifeTrek Provision in its own right. It speaks to our freedom and power in the face of adversity. Circumstances and situations, even hellish ones, do not have to bog us down or destroy us. We can keep moving.

It also speaks to the interaction between our attention and the environment in which we find ourselves. Catching hell is one thing; going through hell is another. In either case, deflecting our attention changes the dynamic.

Runners understand this interaction because changes in perception can lead to changes in pace, energy flow, and rhythm. Take the question of where to focus your eyes, where to look, while running. There are basically four options: you can look down, you can look ahead, you can look up, or you can look around. There’s a time and a place for each, but looking ahead usually produces the best results.

Looking down is where most runners look. There’s really no other way to run when the terrain is rough. It’s the most cautious, careful, and conservative way to run. No twisted ankles or sudden stumbles here! Just steadily putting one foot ahead of the other, on solid ground. It can become a mesmerizing tunnel vision, this constant view of the ground 5 to 10 feet out.

Looking ahead is a good way to pick up the pace. Pick out a point, a ways in the distance, and run for it as best you can. As you reach that point, pick out another. There’s always another one coming into your field of view. Looking ahead keeps you moving, even through hard exertion. Looking ahead requires runners to use their peripheral vision to plant their feet on solid ground. This mix of tunnel vision, on the distant point, and peripheral vision, on the nearby ground, expands our awareness to include a wider variety of experiences and sensations. It is a richer way to run.

Looking up is a good way to finish a race. Before that, looking up can be dangerous. It really isn’t possible to look up and see the ground at the same time. And, if nothing else, running requires that you see the ground. An occasional furtive glance can be uplifting in the middle of a hard run. At the finish line, it’s pure gold.

Looking around is a good way to see the sights and sounds of life. Looking around is best left for walking, when the scenic route is what it’s all about. Not too long ago we walked a portion of Bob’s running route. Even though he has run that route hundreds of times, there were houses and trees he’d never noticed before. By walking the route and looking around, he could experience a different kind of enjoyment and peace.

Where do you look in life? At different points, in different contexts and situations, it will be appropriate to look in different directions. Too many people never travel at a leisurely enough pace to look around. They’re so intent on getting somewhere that they fail to enjoy the journey. The destination overshadows the beauty and the wonder of the moment. Don’t allow that to happen to you. Take time to see the sights, to hear the birds, and to smell the air.

When it’s time to move, you may want to consider looking ahead rather than down. Many people put their head down to dig out the race. That may even be the natural way to run. But unless the course you’re traveling is particularly hazardous, you’ll do better by picking out a point on the horizon, in your field of view, where you plan to go. Keeping your eyes focused on that point will keep your body and spirit moving toward that point with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. You’ll get there before you know it, with energy and room to spare.

In the end, don’t forget to look up. There truly is reason, no matter how hard the journey, to lift every voice and sing, to rejoice and give thanks, to remember that we do not run the race on our power, but on the power that comes from above.

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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of

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