Pass the Baton

I used to run track in high school.

Our track meets were usually on Fridays, so Thursdays meant we were having a light workout. We’d stretch, jog a little, and practice our form. For the relay teams, that meant everybody had to practice how to receive and pass the baton (just in case we had to switch our running order around for the actual meet).

I’d take my stance and listen for my teammate to run towards me. When she reached a certain point, I’d start jogging, and she would yell, “Stick!” That was my cue to stick my arm back and sprint as fast as I could, once I secured the baton between my thumb and index finger.

Everything was easy so until I got to the part where I had to hand the baton to the next runner. That’s where everybody on the team had the most issues.

Either we’d run too fast and risk disqualification for exchanging outside of the passing zone, or we’d slow down too much and cause the other runner to lose momentum.

No matter how we started or maintained, finishing and helping the other runner start her leg of the race was the most difficult part.


In the workplace, we are so good at “receiving the baton” from a mentor, then sprinting with that wisdom to carve our own career path, but a lot of us are “dropping the baton” when it comes to handing off the knowledge to the next generation of people in our fields.

You can’t complain about the younger generation not knowing better if you’re not being part of the solution to teach them. It’s hard because it involves being selfless and helping someone else, but it’s necessary for the progression of your specialized industry.

When you reach what you believe is the pinnacle of your career (not the day before you retire), purposefully search for another person in whom you see potential, and help them reach greatness too.

Besides, if someone didn’t take time out to help you, you probably wouldn’t be where you are today.

Learn from a mentor, cultivate your skills, and then be a mentor.

Hope Boyd
Written by:
Hope Boyd
Director of Communications, Strategic Government Resources

2 responses

  1. Charlie Hilmes | Reply

    When I entered the office of Mayor, I found out that I had to initiate the conversation with the outgoing Mayor. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to help. He thought it was better if I initiated the conversation. I started with our supervisors to find out what projects they were working on and in what stage of development each was in. I also wanted to know what they thought the city should be planning for in the future. Then I went to the former Mayor to get input on the day to day activities he was involved in especially as Economic Development director for the City. I found out there were many things I didn’t know about while being a council member. I would encourage any new administrator to discuss the job with their predecessor. You will not do everything the way they did, but this should help you formulate your ideas on the path you wish to go. It also helps your supervisors understand your views on what and how things should be done. This give and take will give everyone a better idea of where we go into the future.

    1. Wow. Awesome anecdote, Charlie! That is a great tip to give anybody who is leaving any position.

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