Monday, April 21, 2008

The Parable of the Treadmill

Funny thing happened at the health club this morning...the power went out. Everything was humming along, people straining through workouts, TV monitors glowing, treadmills and Stairmasters and ellipticals keeping a steady, muscular beat.

And then, suddenly, BLIP. Power gone.

I was just starting my 20 minute struggle with an elliptical machine when the club went dark. Suddenly, everyone who was running on the treadmills came to a screeching, violent stop. One woman who was tearing up her treadmill at an elite distance runner's pace fell down. The belts were silent.

Over on the ellipticals, though, it was business as usual. In the darkness before dawn, everyone who was relying on their own power was still working out, LED's still glowing, charting our progress while the rest of the health club was standing around.

It struck me that there's a lesson here. Not that you should avoid treadmills...but that if you're counting on someone or something else to provide your momentum, you run the risk of unexpected failure. When you're providing your own momentum, if you stop it's because you choose to stop.

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