Oops, they dropped the baton!
When a baton is dropped, a terrible loss occurs. It has happened a number of times in relay races, and it's where the phrase originates.
The proper passing of the baton happens when the existing runner is about to complete his or her phase (lap) and the next runner is about to run the next phase of the same race. The most crucial part of the race now happens. It is the passing of the baton. For a moment during this race both the runners are holding the same baton! This is the key to winning the race. It is a moment where both players are fully engaged in the same race. During this crucial moment the first runner, without losing any speed, is fully preparing to release the baton but will not release it until the second runner, gaining the equivalent speed while fully preparing to take hold of the baton, actually has grasped it. Not until the second runner has fully grasped the baton, can the first runner release the baton and slow down to a complete stop.
It's called a proper transition or successful 'passing of the baton'.
When a baton is dropped, the second runner needs to come to a complete halt, and even back track to retrieve the dropped baton. It then takes much courage for the runner to enter the race again and often with regret runs it without the passion it started with.
There is a great illustration in the ancient story of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah threw his mantle on the shoulders of Elisha, who in turn killed his oxen and burned his plow for the sacrifice and afterwards followed Elijah and stayed with him to the very end. (1)
What a beautiful picture of successful 'passing of the baton'.
A baton might represent a vision, a mission, a purpose, a value, or perhaps something else. Whether you are retiring from a business, stepping away from a board, finish raising a family, leaving a community or running a relay race; are you preparing to release whatever the baton represents for you, carrying it together for a time and passing it on to your successor?
Are you successfully 'passing the baton'?
(1) 1 Kings 19:19-21
(c) Casey Overbeek, 2009
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