Running on purpose

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Jamie Summerlin is running across America.

He started in Sunset Bay, Oregon, on March 26th. He’ll finish on July 4th in Annapolis, Maryland. If you’re doing the math, that’s 100 days from coast to coast, on foot. If you’re still doing the math, you’ll realize Jamie is running 30-40 miles every day—more than a marathon, which is 26.2 miles—for 100 straight days. 100. Straight. Days.

Think about that.

We celebrate the dedication, commitment and perseverance it takes to complete one marathon. What inspires someone to do it over and over and over and over and over again? What drives someone to push past the raging blisters and burning joints… to run through winds exceeding 30 miles per hour, sideways rain and oppressive heat… and to ignore the mental fatigue and self-doubt, mile after mile, day after day, state after state? What would make anyone even take the first step?


Jamie isn’t running to see if it can be done. He’s not running to break a record, or to bask in the personal glory that should come at the finish line.

He’s running for others.

With his Running for Wounded Warriors project, the former Marine set out “to honor and empower” injured service members who’d “sacrificed life and limb to protect our freedoms.” Beyond raising money and awareness for their unique needs, he’s creating a moving venue that invites participation.

The lesson for brands? Jamie’s simple, clearly defined purpose makes the seemingly impossible possible.

Purpose pushed him to think bigger. The scale of his run had to be extraordinary to honor the sacrifice made by wounded veterans. Purpose enabled him to push beyond normal limits.

Purpose inspired his entire team. Jamie’s wife (his “crew leader”) and kids are on board. His friends are on board. His employer told him to go for it. Everyone around him is playing a part in helping him complete this journey. Would they be as enthusiastic if the reason behind it wasn’t clear and powerful?

Purpose is a constant motivator. On a tough day or steep hill, when it’s natural to question why he’s doing this, Jamie has an immediate answer, one that keeps him focused and driven. Purpose solidifies the responsibility to his own commitment.

Purpose draws people in. Like this. And this. And this. Most of us are curious about the what (running more than 3300 miles in 100 days) but we’re moved by the why (to honor and empower wounded warriors). Purpose turns actions into movements.

Purpose is the fuel for success at every step. Does your brand have a purpose? Are you using it to do something extraordinary? Is it inspiring and motivating your employees? Does it help draw customers to your story?

If not, get your people together and tell them about Jamie. Running across America. Running through the impossible. Running on purpose. Then make the decision to see what you’re capable of.

Just remember to stretch.

Chad Cipoletti is a director, Brand Voice, for the Siegel+Gale Los Angeles office.

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