Twelve years ago, my sister in law and I were sitting down for a family dinner and she leaned over and informed me she was training to run a marathon. “I’m in the best shape of my life,” she exclaimed. We had both just given birth to our second children and one of us (me) was NOT in the best shape of her (my) life. My competitive genes kicked in and next thing you know, I’m signed up for a half marathon with only three months to train. I was not a runner, had no desire to run, and to be honest, thought all runners were crazy. However, anything she could do, I could do so – off to the races.
The next few weeks I spent purchasing new shoes, new headphones, downloading the best mixtape ever curated, and going to the gym a few times a week to run on a treadmill. I figured that as long as I could run 10 miles on a treadmill, I could run a half marathon. Right? How hard could it be? I honestly had no idea what I was doing, no training plan in place, but I knew that if I had shoes, music, and determination, I would be amazing.
Race day came. I was up at the crack of dawn with nerves. When the gunshot rang out, I sprinted out with complete abandon. Halfway through the course, I was in pain, my music player had died, and I was miserable. I finished my race, took my expensive shoes off, drove home and threw them away. I did not feel in the best shape of my life. In fact, I was sore from head to toe with three new blisters.
Fast-forward ten years. I have moved into a new home in a new neighborhood and know no one. A friendly neighbor came by to introduce herself and asked if I’d be interested in meeting her and a few other girls in the morning to run. “Run,” I laughed, “ah no thank you.” She didn’t take no for an answer and I found myself waking up at 4:00 a.m the next morning to be picked up by my new friend to go run.
As we pulled into the dark parking lot, I saw a group of eight women waiting, and flashes of misery, doubt, and pure panic set in. These people, however, welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me from beginning to end. We ran five miles that day, stopping along the way to stretch and laugh. I didn’t feel pain or misery, anger or shame. I felt encouraged, strong, and accomplished. Sure, I wasn’t running a four-minute mile, but I had just run five miles and it went by fast and I was actually having fun! I was hooked.
You see, when others are in the trenches with you and there to support with encouragement, it means more. You have more energy and more drive because the people surrounding you don’t want you to fail. The same goes for learning. Without a good support system around you, who will be there to continue to encourage you during your points of frustration? Who will be your coach along the way when you don’t understand a concept or have the same question over and over again? When looking to learn something new, 69% of people turn to a boss or mentor first to point them in the right direction. I find that to be personally true because I am more likely to want to read, listen, watch something that has been recommended by someone who knows me.
Degreed has been my coach in the world of learning and development for the past year and a half. Degreed gives me credit along the way for any learning activity that I do throughout my day. I get recommendations from others who have like-minded interests on topics that really motivate me. I’m challenged with ongoing development opportunities by being able to capture my skill level goals and get manager’s feedback along the way. I receive suggestions for new and different modalities of learning that spark my creativity. I get tangible results by seeing how much learning and development I am investing in my career. Just like I see all the miles I run on my Garmin watch, Degreed shows me all the learning I’ve accomplished in my lifetime.
Since meeting those girls, I have run seven marathons, twelve half-marathons, and had more blisters than I care to count and I have loved every minute of it. What made the difference? Support, encouragement, feedback, and like-minded connections. Do you get that with your learning and development coach? If not, check out Degreed.