09/17/07 — MOC professor paces his races, and life

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MOC professor paces his races, and life

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 17, 2007 1:45 PM

David Rendall, a business professor at Mount Olive College, admits he's not an especially fast runner. His approach to the sport might be likened to his approach to life -- it's all about the pacing.

He took up running three years ago when he and his family moved to North Carolina, as a way to get in shape and be healthy for his children.

Earlier this year, he ran his fourth marathon, participating in the Rock 'n Roll Half-Marathon. On Oct. 6, he will attempt the Triple Lakes Trail Race, a 40-mile ultra-marathon in Greensboro, followed by the Richmond Marathon in November.

The races are but a small portion of the journey, though, as he incorporates a "mini-vacation" for his family to accompany him. He and wife Stephanie, a part-time professor at MOC, have three daughters, Anna, 5, Emma, 3, and 3-month-old Sophia.

Some might applaud his earnest athletic pursuit -- which includes aspirations to participate in a 50-mile and 100-mile race, as well as a triathlon and Iron Man Marathon -- but Rendall shrugs off the notion.

"My first marathon, I had 70-year-olds, men and women, pass me," he recalls. "In the second race, a woman went past me at mile 25 and she was power walking. The last one I did in Myrtle Beach, a woman passed with a sign on her back that said, 'I'm not slow, I'm just pregnant.'"

Nevertheless, finishing was a big achievement for him, he admits.

He has used such examples often in his classrooms, as well as his background in business management.

"You get credibility from the fact that you're a teacher and also a manager," he explained.

Parlaying practical application is proving to be one of his strong suits. The college has encouraged educators to supplement their areas of expertise, resulting in the College Press publishing Rendall's first book, "The Four Factors of Effective Leadership," now available on the popular Web site, Amazon.com. It is available in paperback, hardcover and as an audiobook.

His live seminars, based on the book, have also been released and were recently ranked No. 1 on Amazon for special business interests.

Since speaking and conducting training sessions can be time-consuming, releasing supplemental products for purchase has reduced Rendall's travel schedule, which is the way he wants it for now.

"I realized that if I wanted more time with my family, there's a limit to how much time you can be gone," he said.

Long term, that's part of his strategy. Call it his "reverse career plan."

"I have kind of a non-traditional lifestyle," he says. "My goal is to spend more time with my kids and my wife. I purposefully have reduced what I do so that I can be home now and spend time with them while they're young."

At 33, he says there will be plenty of time for working harder later. Right now, it's more about working smart.

"Part of it is practicing what I preach. If I'm not doing it, why should they?" he said, referring to not only students and seminar participants, but his own family and friends.

"One thing I teach is, you've got to have a mission for your life. My mission is to help people reach their potential, help my kids reach their potential, help my wife reach her potential. That's what I'm passionate about."

Streamlining his efforts has proven effective toward striking a balance in all areas of his life, Rendall says.

So, now he has tackled another life lesson -- covered in his new book "The Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Embracing Weakness."

The concept comes from his own personal experience, he says.

"I spent my whole life getting in trouble because I couldn't sit down and be quiet. Now I get paid for what I used to get in trouble for."

Ironically, he notes, he never really fixed what everybody said was "wrong" with him. It's a message he now enjoys sharing.

"Most of our society focuses on getting people to fix what's wrong with them. What's wrong with you can be the same thing that's right with you," he said. "It seems like a weakness but it's not, so what we have to do is put ourselves in a situation that highlights our strengths and minimizes what might be a weakness."

That's especially true for adult. Instead of simply trying to change a child, he suggests working to recognize possible strengths and abilities.

"With my kids, I try not to treat them all the same way or compare them. I'm thinking in marriage, too, instead of trying to fit ourselves into a situation, we try to find situations that fit us," he said.

The same holds true in the workplace. Rendall says everyone has a unique contribution to make and instead of viewing a job as "drudgery," discover a way to make it work for them.

"Find careers, pursuits that reward you for individual performance," he said. "Too often we're trying to cram ourselves into situations that we don't fit. ... Find something that fits who you are and something that you enjoy."