Today is Father's Day in the US.
Thinking about Father’s Day made me think (aside from my own great Dad, of course) about the similar word, “farther” and how it relates to sustainability. On this blog, in in books, we’ve promoted a view of long-term thinking for project managers. Thinking beyond – farther – than the end date of the project, beyond the handover to operations. We’ve provided a rationale as to how that helps make a better project, a project better-connected to the mission and vision of your organization, and likely a project which will have stronger benefits realization. Heck, it even could make the project itself execute more smoothly.
But we won’t repeat all that here. Instead, what we’ll do is to talk about the “farther” and “father” views together by using the analogy to a marathon. Even if you have a long-lasting project, such as a bridge construction, the project itself is a sprint, not a marathon. The marathon is the bridge, in place, transporting people and vehicles safely across the river or gap, for decades.
So, what came to mind for me as I thought about “Farther’s Day” was the father and son team of Richard Eugene "Dick" Hoyt and Richard Eugene "Rick" Hoyt Jr., of Holland, Massachusetts. If you are from New England, you know these two as Team Hoyt. If you don’t know about them, there’s a nice summary of their efforts here.
You see, Rick has cerebral palsy and during competition Dick pushed Rick in a purpose-built wheelchair as they ran the Boston Marathon. And not just one marathon, and not just the Boston Marathon, and not just marathons. The Hoyts have competed in well over 1,100 endurance events, including 72 marathons and seven Ironman triathlons. They had run the Boston Marathon 32 times. Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days.
And even the marathon aspect of what they do doesn’t convey the long-term aspect we espouse. Because the reason that Team Hoyt is Team Hoyt, is NOT the individual events, although each one considered on its own is astonishing. No, the real amazing thing here is that they’ve chosen to do this, yes, for the challenge, but also to (according to their web page):
…raise awareness of inclusion, educate, inspire and enrich the lives of individuals, families and communities by pairing athletes of differing abilities in endurance events to promote the Team Hoyt motto, "Yes, You Can!"
So when Dick Hoyt and his family set about the project to build the special wheelchair, it was done with the long-term thinking that we want you to adopt. It was for more than the purpose of one race, or even one event, or even one person – it was done with a broader purpose in mind. We hope that you consider this inspirational story when you plan your next “wheelchair” project. Think Farther!
Happy Farther’s Day!