Saturday, February 7, 2009


I watched a video this morning during a workshop I was attending that was about leadership and group/team development...the video followed a pair of runners during the race. One of the fellows was clearly blind. The other was sighted. Both were clearly trained and seasoned runners.

They ran a race...not a road race, but a trail one...hills, trees, narrow paths, tree roots, steep hills to slide down--a long rugged trail. It was amazing.

On smoother, wider paths, the blind guy would hold onto the elbow of the sighted one, half a step back. On steep "ups" the blind guy would go ahead, and the sighted one would call out constant instructions. On narrow downward slopes the sighted guy would go ahead, and the blind fellow would hold onto both elbows directly behind.

All the while, the sighted one is calling out instructions to passersby as all share the trail..."Pass on the left" etc. There are various times when each are egging each other on--in shorthand (they are, after all, pushing themselves hard physically)--"GO, GO, GO, GO"

One time, the blind guy (he must have a name, but we never find that out), says in the middle of this beautiful nature trail, "What's it look like". The guy who can see, says: "It's beautiful. You should see it."

The video is matter-of-fact, no explanations, no music--only two guys running among many other people. It brought tears to my eyes though--the commitment they had to each other. The blind runner had on knee pads and work gloves--recognition of the injuries he risks as he goes, and goes hard. Put a blind fold on me, and I'm not running hard on a narrow trail in the middle of a forest--NO WAY. The trust he placed in his partner was beautiful.

The actions of the sighted runner were also profound. He never stopped calling out what the next 5 feet held in the journey...he was running hard and kept up constant chatter. He looked out for his partner and helped other runners learn how to pass effectively and safely. He accomodated for his sightless partner's lack of vision completely, but respected him too much to cut him an ounce of slack...he pushed him hard the whole way to keep up the pace.

What made the movie beautiful was the partnership these two had, to allow one to accomplish what would be otherwise impossible. They had different roles, and completed their roles well in tandem with the other person. They accomodated for the disability of one, without pity, condescension or compromise. The focus wasn't on the problem, it was on the race.

And it was accomplished.

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