Monday, March 5, 2012

Key professional lessons from a Long distance run- Part-3

I recently participated and completed the Contours Women's Day 2012 10K Run . While the run was as much a tribute to the women as much it was to my passion for running, i could gather some useful lessons from this run as well.

This post is in the continuation of the previous post#1, and post#2 on the same topic.

My key learning from this run was-
Starting all over again is a often underrated but an effective skill that could be learned:

To explain the context here a bit. The route of Contours Women's Day 2012 10K Run was a tad different that the ones i have ran in the past. Though i have run on the park (in Bangalore) in which this run happened but not the same route. The official definition of route said-
The 10K starts from Kanteerva stadium, goes into Cubbon park and does 2 loops inside the park and ends with one loop inside the stadium.

So basically it involved 2 loops inside the park. Having multiple loops during the course of a run is quite a normal thing to do given the fact that any city hosting the run would have only limited space and then there are external factors like traffic etc. that proves to be a deterrent in having one long stretch as a usual route. Running on a route with multiple loops have got its own share of benefits like you get to experience the track and beauty of the park more than once, you get familiar with the track and there are less chances of you facing unknown situations as the run progresses.

These benefits are surely valuable but one thing that i realized while on the course of run this time was a unique challenge the run with multiple loop poses to the runner. With all the hard work and enthusiasm, i managed to complete the first loop only to find out that i was at the beginning of where it all started (first point of the race). The very fact that instead of seeing a finish line, you get to a sort of start point in the mid of the run can really pull you down almost as if giving a feeling that nothing much has been achieved despite all the running and slogging done under the scorching heat. Though this is really a false notion, which our mind knows while running but this is something that our body doesn’t comply with at actually not seeing the landmark at completing half the race (unlike other runs, this run didnt have markings at every Kms indicating how many Kms done). This is a sort of funny situation to be in but it has happened with me even in the practice runs. The key in such situations is to make sure to pull yourself up and get on with the run as if you have just started. Every step taken hence after gives you confidence that you are moving in the right direction.

Fast forward to our work lives, there are many situations in which we feel down and out like the following-
- When our good efforts in the projects fall short of expectation and the commitment is not delivered.
- When a superior comes and reprimands you for a lapse. You tend to feel that your reputation gets at stake and doesn’t really like the idea of rebuilding the same.
- Some mistake done while trying out a new idea makes you start off from the beginning.
- You are working to setup a complex Test environment and only at a very late stage you find out that a misstep in the early stage has caused you to restart the efforts again.
There could be many such examples.

The above situations have two things in common-
1. All these situations are not the ideal of the situations a professional can face. In some cases, it can even be termed as a crisis.
2. All these situations are temporary and not permanent.

The faster we get our minds to accept of the temporary nature of these activities and move on to the forward step, the quicker will be come out of the seemingly messy situations. While it is necessary to introspect about the mistakes but overly dwelling upon them take us a step backwards without us even realizing. Its something akin to the feeling that I shared of starting the second loop in a long run.

In his autobiography, "A Champion's mind" Pete Sampras shares his evaluation on how he was able to win so many matches over so many years. One of the relevant things he shares is-
Throughout my career, whenever i made a critical mistake, i just wiped it off the hard drive. I don't really know how i developed that ability to move on instead of dwell upon, but i had it. My guess is that it was some mental function, rather than an emotional one- a kind of extra-high focus on success. And a lot of it was sheer will.
If you train yourself not to let things get to you, they don't."

This assertion by Pete Sampras makes it clear that whether in work or in our personal lives-Starting all over again is a skill that could be learned.

Just do it!

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Shivani said...

Very interesting and well written Anuj. It is great how you use examples from sports and professional life to put forth ideas that would be equally beneficial in personal life.

Do you mind if I share your articles further on facebook etc.? I'm sure many other people will find them interesting and useful.

PS: What does your handwriting analysis say about the small letter 'i' used when you refer to yourself? Just kidding, you don't have to answer that :)

amagazine said...

:-) Thank you for your words, Shivani. Feel free to share these as you find appropriate.