Perceived Exertion

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Measuring athletic performance provides a variety of measurement tools and scales.  A cycling computer might give the user the following data fields:

  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Cadence
  • Power Output
  • Elapse Time
  • Elevation Climbed
  • Ranking on Strava Section
  • Calories Consumed
  • GPS Map

We can quickly assess our performance in real-time and measure it against numerous indicators.  What the data cannot readily reveal is the perceived exertion.  There may be hints, elevated heart rate on a scorching hot day, reduced cadence grinding into a relentless headwind, slower average speed riding a freshly chip sealed road. Perceived exertion matters.  If we are not prepared to suffer our impression and memory of the workout can be negative and even haunting.

How does the monitoring of sports data equate to the social sector?  How many times have we not shared all the relevant details when recruiting a volunteer, committee member, or member for the board?  It is easy to focus on the inspirational parts of the work.  What happens when reality hits?  When the board member who missed the preschool class on taking turns wrestles control of the meeting with a full-throated demand?  Or the committee that must work overtime in order for the annual gala to succeed?  If we do not prepare our team members for what they will likely encounter, the perception of their work and its impact can be rattled.  

Let us be honest as we pitch our enterprises to those willing to support the cause.  We can prepare ourselves for the extremes with an advance warning but it is too late when we are caught off guard.  Perceived experiences matter,  even when the data looks excellent.

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