Inspiration

Why Marathon Runners are Successful in the Business World Too

by On May 23, 2015
Why Marathon Runners are Successful in the Business World

Nobody could accuse you of living a boring life! You put in a full day at work, socialize with friends and family and you make time for marathons—training for them and competing. But did you know that there's a relationship between the ethics you practice at work and the character traits you exhibit on the marathon circuit?

Think about it. Every time you put on your running shoes for a conditioning run, you probably feel the same emotions and desire to achieve as you do when you write a proposal, deliver a presentation or undertake a difficult project at the office. Outstanding marathon runners make outstanding employees because healthy character traits spill over, whether you're excelling at the office or sprinting through a marathon. See how many of these describe you!

Reason #1: You Always Strive for Perfection.

Do you worry that people see you as a perfectionist, or do you look upon this trait as a character flaw? It's time to get rid of this thinking, because you are fortunate to have been born with the perfectionist gene! Whether you start every day with a mantra that sets the tone for your business dealings so they're as professional as possible, or you strive to arrive first at every marathon finish line, your perfectionist personality makes you a well-rounded human being who's willing to fail rather than give a mediocre performance at work or during a race. Sure, you won't be perfect every time you submit a project or complete a marathon, but your ambition and eagerness make you a winner, even on the days your race or work performance is less than perfect!

Reason #2: Your Dedication Pays Off.

You hear whispers and gossip: This boss is incompetent. That one's a slave driver. But you never play the blame game because you're a dedicated employee who stands out among under-performers who may even outnumber you at your workplace. You pride yourself on being dedicated on the marathon circuit, too, devoting yourself to making every event your best possible performance. People can't help but love you—even those who compete against you, because you're a role model whose dedication will always separate you from the crowd. Why? Because you don't come up with excuses, eat unhealthy food or miss a conditioning run just because it's raining. Being dedicated to work and athletics always leads to big pay-offs—whether it's a medal or a promotion—because you'll always be a front runner.

Why Marathon Runners are Successful in the Business World

Photo Credit: 123RF

Reason #3: You Always Follow Through.

A big work assignment lands on your desk and everyone's excited about the prospect of jumping into a new, exciting and challenging project. But as time passes, you may be the only work team member whose enthusiasm and optimism remain high. How about when running a race? You stay the course and act consistently, encountering obstacles on a run route, even when you are exhausted and everyone around you starts to let down. Because you never give up and follow through, you "get" the importance of staying the course in all aspects of your life. Got this 'follow through' mantra? Count yourself fortunate. It's a rare character trait that will serve you well at work, on the track and everywhere in-between.

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Reason #4: You Understand the Value of Teamwork.

It can be a lonely road, whether running your race, or feeling the weight of responsibility for a work project that's planted solely on your shoulders. But because you are a big believer in teamwork, you're never alone—and knowing that is enough to keep you pushing through your discomfort and pain at work, and during the most arduous physical challenge. Whether you ask a colleague to help you, or acknowledge the fact that competitors are equally as deserving of taking home medals as you are, you understand a principle that some people never learn: Nobody lives in a vacuum and only through teamwork can individuals shine. Showing other people that you need and support them is a gift you give, both at work and on the marathon circuit. It's why you celebrate other people's victories and accomplishments with as much joy as you celebrate your own!

Reason #5: You Embrace Responsibility.

How do you feel about taking responsibility for a result, an action, a deed or a consequence? It's a valid question. Did you know that the more responsibility you take, the more you grow as a human being, employee and athlete? It's hard to be a person who's willing to embrace responsibility. You probably associate with finger-pointers on the job and on the track: The moment things go wrong, these colleagues or race competitors are quick to lay blame at the feet of others, but for a wise, secure worker/runner like you, it actually feels good to step up and claim responsibility—for things that go wrong and things that go right! Being a professional employee and marathon runner means that you know and understand when to take responsibility. In the eyes of others, this can elevate you above your contemporaries every day of the week.

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Reason #6 You Pursue Self-Enrichment.

What's the meaning of self-enrichment? You might be surprised to learn that self-enrichment has exactly the same definition as self-improvement, which is a critical factor in determining how you evolve, mature and flourish as you find your place in the worlds of work and marathon running. There are countless ways you can achieve high levels of self-enrichment: Work with a coach to improve your run time. Pursue fun, challenging workout programs on your non-training days or adjust your marathon speciality to push some boundaries and risk failure. It's inevitable that the self-enrichment pursuits you undertake when you run a marathon impact other aspects of your life, so by undertaking classes, workshops and assignments, you become a better employee and competitor because your willingness to pursue self-enrichment opportunities keeps you focused and performing at a higher level than most of your contemporaries.

Reason #7: You Love to Cooperate.

Some say that there's nothing cooperative about running a marathon since there can only be one first finisher. Others believe that opportunities for cooperation in an office—where petty jealousies and scheming often lead to unfair work conditions—can't exist. But if you think carefully about the positive outcomes that can be enjoyed by being a cooperative person, you will also come to the conclusion that cooperation leads to solutions, camaraderie and the achievement of goals and objectives. You probably witness acts of cooperation every day: A spouse willing to pick up family responsibilities so a runner can compete. The athlete who risks a great finish time because he decides to aid an injured competitor. The colleague who steps in and finishes your assignment when you come down with the flu without even asking if you need help. You get the fact that it costs nothing to cooperate during a race or at your job, and may even have learned that cooperation pays off big time—often when you least expect it!

Why Marathon Runners are Successful in the Business World

Photo Credit: 123RF

Reason #8: You Aren't Afraid of Losing.

A promotion is in the wind, but it goes to a colleague. At your racing club, somebody else becomes president. Life is all about loss at every age and stage, and if you've been a marathon runner for even a short amount of time, you know it's inevitable. Sure, it's easy to get into "fear mode". You experience sleepless nights because you're scared of losing a race, a title or a promotion, but if you practice the Zen of loss, you'll find it's easy to brush off the incident and get on with your life. After all, losing is part of living. You can do everything possible to achieve your goal and still be on the other end of the prize—but that's no reason to be sad. Over time, losing hurts less and even becomes the reason you grin and throw up your hands with a shrug, promising yourself that you'll do better next time. And then, make it so!

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At the beginning of this article, we mentioned additional lessons to be learned from businesses that impact our running world and lessons learned on the track that impact our business behaviours. We know you've come up with a few more while reading this, so tell us: what lesson would you add to this list if you were writing this article? C'mon. You know you want to weigh in on this fascinating subject!

Aidan is the Editor-in-chief of RunSociety. As a health improvement hacker and explorer, he oversees RunSociety’s Creativity Channel, spanning a wide range of inspirational and enriching topics daily to the running community. Get in touch with him if you have any fresh ideas!

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