On Saturday 3 January 2015, I completed the final leg of an epic quest by running the 10th leg of 24 km in New York on a cold, wet and dark night.
To recap: back in August 2010, I announced my intention to commence a journey called the 10 City Bridge Run. Four years later than anticipated, I concluded the first leg of this journey which involved a stunt running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries. The stunt was designed to open a conversation asking an important question: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”
In those four years, it has not been an easy journey, even though for the most part it might have seen from an outsiders perspective that there seemed to be little happening until September 2014. Suffice to say that starting anything takes effort and involves accepting risk. It has been difficult, but it has also been worthwhile.
Literally only a few people, less than a handful, are actually aware of how hard that journey has been. Maybe I ought to have shared more about those difficulties, but I think I was right not to because the journey is not actually about me. It is about us.
I couldn’t have done this without you. Please read that last sentence again for emphasis. Actually, that last sentence “I couldn’t have done this without you” needs some clarification. I knew I would need help to make this journey possible, but was unaware of how reliant I would be for support in ways I never expected from you. I needed the help you gave to get to this point, and perhaps just as importantly if not of more significance, this is a journey ‘we’ are on together, and so I couldn’t have become the ‘us’ without your involvement.
The contribution from some might seem to them insignificant. “I did nothing!” you might protest. I just want you to kn ow that encouragement even through a simple comment or liking a post from time to time carries with it greater influence than you might ever know. So thank you. And especially to the many supporters, this journey is as much as your achievement as it is of mine, regardless of when you joined the journey. We are in this together.
While we are now some distance down the road from the idea where this journey began, this quest is only just beginning now. This is an epic journal rich with metaphor. People have told me about their reflections about what I am doing and the metaphor they identify in the journey, and more often than not I am surprised how they see it from a perspective I never considered. And there is plenty of more meaning to come that all of us have yet to identify or explore.
While the journey has only begun, this is not an exercise is the abstract exploration of a literary device. This journey has meaning. The running stunt of this journey allowed us to arrive at the start point of what we are really here to do, rather than a destination.
Yes, the real journey is about to begin. That journey essentially comes in two parts:
- Co-creation of a book called Life Bridge which will feature 100 photos of human bridges to illustrate the importance of connection to meet a grand challenge, in this case our quest to improve the delivery of child survival. Everyone who has supported the journey to date will receive a copy as has been my obligation to you from the beginning of this journey.
- A series of Design Forum to be held in the cities where running took place to address the central challenge to the 10 City Bridge Run which asks: “how might we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”
I certainly have many ideas about what these two aspects of the journey ought to look like, but this is where there is some definite transition from a very difficult pursuit that I was undertaking largely as the central actor and at considerable personal risk to myself, to one where we will together be responsible for driving the outcome and where the risk is essentially to try ideas on for size and see what works and what doesn’t. The journey ahead is the sum of our collective dreams, our collective imaginations, and reaching out to many experts with the specialist knowledge that we need to guide the conversation. We can afford to be bold, but we also need to make sure it is well planned and well executed. Don’t worry – I’m not going anywhere, and will continue to serve by leading. I might be tired from the running, but I am totally invigorated to work together as we embark on the next chapter of this epic quest.
But as I get my thoughts together after finishing this first part of the journey to open the conversation that follows, I wanted to first say thank you.
This is also an opportunity to open up the conversation to ask (how) would you like to be involved in the conversation going forward? Spectators are welcome too! And if you have just stumbled across this for the first time, welcome aboard!
In the meantime, I have a lot to share that I want to post here. Many photos and videos from the trip, many thoughts, and especially many small conversation starters to orientate the focus better towards child survival.
This is a big undertaking and we are just getting started.