Most things we do have a defined beginning and end. We keep appointments. We meet deadlines. We work on projects. We deem these activities worthy for a time. Like a sprint. From firing gun to finish line. But what things are worth doing for a longer duration? What things are your marathon?
Each of us will have our own list. It could include mundane things like flossing each day to maintain your dental health. It could include specific eating or exercise habits. It could include commitments to stay close to family and friends. It includes marriages, decisions to become a parent, or involvement in causes.
I got involved with a non-profit called Marathon Scholars earlier this year and they take a long-term approach to solving the access to higher education gap among low income students in the Portland area. High potential students are selected in 4th grade and given their first college scholarship. The organization then walks with them with mentoring and educational programming until they earn their college diploma. Most will be the first people in their families to graduate from college (many are the first to graduate from high school). The program has been around long enough to see graduates exiting the program at 7x the average rate, speaking to the power of the long-term approach. A marathon, for sure.
There are opportunities for individuals to get involved in short and long-term mentoring and sponsorships. One of the most popular programs is scholarship sponsors committing to give $100 a month for 12 years to fund a scholarship. Giving in parallel to the student’s academic progress, this approach illustrates the partnership between the students that do the work necessary to generate results and the organization and the organization and the sponsors that make the mission possible. Although this kind of commitment is not required, it is a beautiful metaphor to how problems are solved for good – they take time. For more information and to see how you can get involved, see www.marathonscholars.org.