Lessons Managers Can Learn From Marathon Runners

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To prepare for a marathon, it takes years of practice, perseverance and motivation. Managers in many ways are like marathon runners. Managerial skills often coincide with the athletic mind-set of the runners. There are a few qualities of marathon learners that can take mangers a long way. It helps them build their career skills and lead the team head-strong.

Mindset Is Everything

Your mindset is the X-factor that determines the degree of success or failure. It is a reflection of who you truly are and the reality you perceive is the end product of this mindset. In order to make the most out of your career, every manger needs to adopt the mindset of successful athletes. These include qualities like persistence to endure till the end, positive realism to overcome short-term failures, humility to keep improving at every given step, vulnerability to strengthen and resolve because you cannot grow until you acknowledge your weakness.

Ask yourself ‘Have I done everything I could to achieve my goals?’ Just like marathons, career days are not infinite and you have to make every opportunity count. Do everything you are willing to do to achieve your goal right now. Adapt the above qualities and living a life with no regrets becomes your second nature.

Set Small Goals

Small goals are required to achieve a long term success. Observe marathon runners, they plan their targets on a weekly basis for a run which is six months away. They set their aim for each run and persistently work towards it. Real motivation calls for an on-going feedback and intermediate goals. If you are leading a project, it helps you and your team to understand the necessity of achieving short term goals which gives more clarity for the long run. Also, constant feedback on the performance helps you and team to prepare for the better.  

Much Needed Recovery

Recovery is as important as running the marathon. This is something that most runners take seriously. They don’t incessantly train flat out every day without the inclusion of rest days in their training schedule. Unfortunately, in business, this is generally not the case. Recovery and renewal are often ignored despite the fact that research shows how working for long hours over a prolonged period reduces overall effectiveness.

Unlike marathon runners, this exhaustion for managers is more of a mental well-being than a physical well-being. As a manager, your job profile requires you to be proactive at most times. Avoiding the burnout can lead to stress and frustration piling up. When you are exhausted, all your troubles feel magnified and this leads to additional stress. Hence, slow down, take a break, and prepare better for the next day. 

Peer Support and Scope for Improvement

Runners usually train alone. However, the ones who strive for better performance usually have a training partner who pushes them to do better. By pushing each other to surpass their limits, both achieve greater level of performance. This is important for managers too. While managers need to be independent and resilient to lead a team, having a peer support is vital for them to perform better. Having such a peer who can give you an honest feedback and challenge you to perform better is a huge benefit as it will bring out the best out of you.

Embrace Obstacles

Preparation for a marathon is filled with obstacles. Sometimes, the training doesn’t go the way you planned it. Setbacks and obstacles like injuries are a part and parcel of this process and they should be looked as challenges and not barriers. The key is to learn how to plan for and manage them. If faced with a business difficulty, accept and embrace it. Set a preliminary schedule with a clear agenda so you can track the progress. In business, downfall is a common occurrence that can easily make you lose interest. True discipline requires you to be emotionally committed to keep going despite external factors. A consistent effort always pays off, and in the end it benefits you overall. 

Preparing for a marathon is a long term process. You encounter obstacles, setbacks and often get drained out in the process. Business life is not any different, especially the role adorned by managers. Just like marathon runners, managers too need to adapt to an athletic mind-set and train dedicatedly. In the end, though a long journey, there is a definite success awaiting you. Train like a marathon runner and watch yourself making a difference.