Going the Distance by Sue Lebeck

SueLebeck(Originally posted at Sue Lebeck’s blog on www.innovatingsmart.org, August 1, 2011)

This past weekend, my husband and I had the pleasure of hosting guests from London who came to town to participate in the annual San Francisco Marathon.  As a former three-miler (make that two) and a current hill-climber (the urban kind), I fell naturally into a state of awe and admiration. Twenty-six-plus mile-markers to be overtaken by foot in the terrain of the cable-car seems extreme, if not unachievable.  How does one even begin?

Sometimes the quest for sustainability feels like that.   According to leaders of the world’s largest businesses, the roadmap to a sustainable future includes forty-plus non-skippable mile-markers. Reaching the mileage requirements for the current decade alone will require us to collectively pass a wide variety of milestones:

  • new measures of success
  • long-term financing models
  • business models that integrate all actors
  • costs of renewable lowered
  • value chain innovation
  • closed loop design
  • integrated urban management, water efficiencies, more agricultural R&D
  • and more

Tired yet?

Whatever your field of play, seasoned players know that success begins by choosing a direction and taking a step at a time.  Capacity and endurance is built consistently and increasingly, always working to a conscious plan.  This year’s seminars-for-marathoners (pp 11-13) offered this further inspired advice that sounds right-on to me:

  • Set high expectations:  “If you put your mind to it, you will surprise yourself by what you can accomplish” (It’s All in Your Head)
  • For best results, attend to what goes into and out of the whole system (Nutrition for the Endurance Athlete and TrainingWell™)
  • A centered frame of mind is key (Running with the Mind of Meditation)
  • What begins as a stretch goal can quickly become a way of life (63 Marathons in 63 Days)
  • Having succeeded over time, you will want to playfully step up your game (Charity Chasers)

Yes, like a marathon, sustainability is a long-term achievement — one which can at once protect and transform our lives.  So let’s get our support systems in place and get ready to go the distance.

Which sustainability mile-markers will you be helping us cruise past in victory?


Sue Lebeck, is the Founder and Director of InnovatingSMART.  You can contact her via sue@innovatingsmart.org

Sue Lebeck is an innovation management specialist working to advance smart, sustainability-driven systems. A researcher, product management and development specialist and innovation manager, Sue brings her diverse background in software, psychology, media and collaboration to the work of sustainability innovation.

Sue is also one of our authors of the Scrappy Women in Business book.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Posted in Author, Leadership, Scrappy Women, Scrappy Women in Biz Book and tagged , , .

One Comment

  1. Thank you, Sue, for making something as enormous as “sustainability” seem achievable. I especially appreciate the importance of seeing these challenges and a source of personal enjoyment! The most fun I’ve ever had is doing meaningful work that matters with people who love and appreciate me, and have a great time doing it! Thanks for writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.