Running, even when I don’t want to do it, is awesome. Most days, most runs are a good thing. I suppose that’s the endorphins talking.
But honestly, I’ve also realized that running does more than make the body feel good, sharpen the mind and reduce fat deposits.
I’ve come to believe that running helps you in life – in your career – in three very specific ways.
1. Running makes you goal focused
Run three minutes – walk one minute – run three minutes – and so on. Run a mile, then another. Then add another five miles the next day. Running is about the goal. Am I better today than I was yesterday? Can I run faster? Further? Harder? Stronger?
That same focus on the end goal is useful at work. Is my work better today than it was yesterday? What does it take to get to the next level?
2. Running teaches you to keep moving forward even when it’s painful.
I’m not going to lie. There are days – for me, most days – when running is not sunshine and roses. It’s mind over matter. Will over pain. I know that if I keep moving, stiff muscles will release and my pace will be easier to maintain. The entire process of running is about deliberately making micro tears in muscle in order to make the muscles stronger in the long run.
The same is true at work. There are times when it’s not fun. Times when the day is about doing the in-the-dirt work. The good news is that you usually reap what you sow – hard work leads to reward.
3. In running, performance is individual-based, but progress happens faster with a team.
I ran by myself for a long time, thinking that was the best strategy for moving from “poor runner” status to “better runner” status. I didn’t want to be the slow struggling person in the pack.
Everyone knows what happens to the slowest one in the pack. (Hello cheetah!)
Last year, The Boy convinced me to join his running club and I learned something incredible. Yes, as a runner you are running for yourself – your time, your goals. But it’s easier to run for yourself when you’re running with others.
Other runners encourage you. They struggle, too, and you can encourage them. You have a shared sense of purpose, even though your individual goals may vary. Being together makes it easier for you to succeed.
The same is true at the office. Here in me-focused America, we think it’s all about our strengths, goals and performance. We rarely look at how we can help others achieve their goals. Yet when we help others win, we often win ourselves.
I often think about this with my team at work. Each member is individually gifted and fills a specific role in our team. Yet we all work together to win work for our firm, increase our brand value and, in general, reflect what is great about our company. If I help my team win, I win. And when we all win, my company wins. The more my company wins, the more we all are rewarded individually.