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Leadership: Why We Need To Run Our Own Race

Who starts a business in a pandemic amid unprecedented economic uncertainty?

We did.

It’s nuts, right?

Yet this is the track we find ourselves on, and it’s exactly where we need to be. It has been designed this way and some serendipitous moments and unique opportunities made it so. This is our race to run.

It is easy to get distracted by what others expect us to do, or be consumed by what others are doing.  That can only take us off course, blind us to opportunities and may even leave us with regrets.  For context, here’s our story on running our own race and how it led us here.  

Running Our Race – A Story

For over two decades, we have been friends and marketing communications colleagues who, over the course of our parallel careers, developed a strong sense of mutual admiration and respect. We met through the Canadian Public Relations Society and back then we were both running our own race in the tech sector.

Years would go by and we’d find ourselves connected again through mutual friends or events, always having great conversations. We were both still running in our own lanes on the same track; sometimes as consultants and other times as leaders within organizations.

And then we both began to transform our careers.

After years and years (and years) of asking, Catherine finally heeded the call of her colleague and friend Peter Reek to join Smart, Savvy + Associates. Initially, that adventure was all about recruitment in the communications space, but quickly became a new journey…to build a leadership development business under the new brand Smart Savvy Academy.

At this time, Colin was still embedded in Electronic Arts, where he successfully grew his career over close to 15 years. It was at a coffee catch up about four years ago that Colin was espousing the merits of the life-changing book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.  He was working through it mapping his career and where he wanted to take it next.  Cath was intrigued because she too had just made the career change with Smart Savvy.  A connector at heart, Catherine immediately thought Colin presenting this book would be a great topic for one of Smart Savvy’s Leader Lounge events.

Now the Story Moves Fast

At the event, Colin shared how his amazing coach Gary Selick helped him move forward. That led to a penny drop moment for Peter which was “coaching is a game changer.” He was right.  Peter and Cath did the coaching certification program (which was profound), earned their credentials, and began offering coaching as part of Smart Savvy Academy.  Shortly after, armed with clarity from the Designing Your Life book, Colin stepped into the coaching space, did his coaching certification, got the credentials, left EA, and starting working with Pete and Cath  to further build Smart Savvy’s leadership and coaching business.  He even earned and added his Certified Designing Your Life Coach Credentials.  

Now here we are. Our new independent company Fluency is the evolution of Smart Savvy Academy. The pandemic brought the opportunity for Peter to move on from this part of the business and for us to carry it forward. After many years, we are running on the same track in the same lane.

The Lesson of the Story  

Too often we spend time and energy on what other people are doing relative to what we are doing. It’s one thing to admire and celebrate the accomplishments of others. It’s another to compare and judge ourselves as worthy or not worthy against that. We think of Gore Vidal’s famous quote, “When a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies”.  We’ve been there. The pang of envy. Frustration we aren’t where we want to be.  The feeling that life is passing us by. 

Comparison does not serve us. Our purpose is to run our own race and focus on that.

In the famous Miracle Mile race in 1954 between Roger Bannister and John Landy that took place in Vancouver, Landy led for most of the race. The crucial, historic moment was when Bannister decided to make his move to pass. Landy looked over his left shoulder to gauge Bannister’s position and Bannister burst past him on the right and won the race.   

If we worry about who is ahead, behind or who is gaining on us, we will falter. Even worse, we’ll get off track or maybe stop running.

With comparison inevitably comes doubt, second guessing, worry and fear.  It triggers the voice in our head that tells us starting a business during a pandemic is nuts, that there’s too much competition and clients will be scarce. The voice that sows self-liming beliefs about pulling this off.  We’ve heard those voices.

But then we take a moment to step back, breathe and remember we are exactly where we need to be.  All our experience, training, focus, intention and design has led us to this place where we can authentically and purposefully help leaders and teams learn and grow. And that will be the ever-present energy behind how we operate Fluency.  Thanks for reading our story.

Questions to Help You Keep Looking Ahead and On Track

Are you running your own race?  If not, who are you running against?

What action can you take to stay in your lane and keep out distractions?     

Where will your own race take you in the future?


“There’s a great plan for your life. You have what you need. The recipe for your success has been written in your spirit. Don’t allow the outside (or inside) voices to disrupt what you know. You have what it takes to make it. You will make it. You have what it takes to succeed. You will succeed. All you have to do is continue to stay hungry for your purpose. Continue to operate in your passion. Continue to own what makes you different and commit to the process. The process is grueling, painful and frustrating but the process will take you where you are supposed to be. This race was designed only for you. You will win. Keep running.”

DeVon Franklin

Producer, Author, Speaker


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