How running helps you beat the rat race

It’s an activity that teaches many lessons which are beneficial in our careers too

Updated: Aug 26, 2015 08:38:07 AM UTC
While running, you are in complete control of your performance, there is nobody else to blame, no dependencies

Image: Shutterstock

From never running to running a marathon is an arduous change! It needs determination, careful planning, stepping out of the comfort zone, and dealing with vacillations. But the payback is immense. My first marathon had a profound effect on me. It made me a better professional. Here are some of the things that the experience taught me.

1. Learn how to win the inner battle to cede or persist A couple of kilometres in the run… there starts the great battle between ceding and persisting. It feels like two separate spaces for these two emotions are created in your mind and they constantly play ping-pong! Other than at the beginning, persistence remains constant, pretty much until it wins in the end by crossing the finish line. This is akin to emotions that engage in a battle in our minds during various transactions in our professional lives. Being aware about this battle, focusing on the larger goal, taking a step-by-step approach, and being perseverant instead of getting overworked by the ordeal at hand is needed when such situations arise. It takes some time for confidence to creep in and optimism to become a habit.

2. Perfect time to don the thinking hat
People dream while sitting or sleeping and ideate while walking. Yes, it’s true. Great thinkers and innovators prefer to walk while discussing or refining their ideas. Running is one step ahead! Your mind is to yourself, focus is intense and there is plenty of quiet time! One can’t read mails or browse - the biggest distractions - while running. Successful professionals always reserve some quiet and thinking time in their schedule. Just add walking or running to it. It is a great form of meditation and great for your heart too.

3. Broaden your capacity, gradually
I never thought I could run over 21 kilometres! The maximum I could run earlier was two kilometres at a stretch. To me, this is proof that human capacity is elastic and responds to the situation, environment and the goal. During a crisis, our capacity and productivity multiplies ten-fold. While we cannot operate at 10x capacity all the time, striving to stretch one’s capacity to establish a new normal is one of the secrets of successful professionals.

4. Self-administer performance management
Running presents an ideal scenario for self-administered performance management – you set your own goals, monitor your results, and enjoy the rewards (ready for brownies!). While running, you are in complete control of your performance, there is nobody else to blame, no dependencies. Such a performance management perspective has a tremendous value if we use it in our professional transactions. Deliver on each transaction and monitor the role you play in it. That way, you would no longer wait or worry about the annual reviews.

5.    Earn brownies, literally!
You burn calories while running to earn brownies. You can eat what you want as long as you burn the calories. And running does that. So guilt is replaced by enjoyment. In the workplace, the ones who have a reputation of perseverance, keeping calm, stretching their capacity and giving their best in each transaction, get more support and freedom to manage any setbacks or surprises at work. Fear is replaced by fun.

Until the day I participated in my first marathon, I never imagined that not running would make me anxious, ever. But now if I don’t run at least twice a week, I do become anxious. It has brought about a personal and professional transformation. I believe it has put me more in control of my mind and taught me how to give my work my best while enjoying it.

So for all non-runners who are waiting for the tiny nudge to start, know that running is not as hard as it appears. To start, join a community of runners and start running and you’ll discover a whole new side of you!

- By Rishi Kumar Jain, COO, Infosys McCamish

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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