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About running on a track and running a business

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

You run well with the team on the track - most likely you will run your company better too.

A form of continuous running that "requires stamina as well as mental strength" - endurance running. Having a definition taken out of the context, one would easily confuse its reference to either process of running an organization or actual running on a track. For "runners" of all kinds the lessons are interchangeable, being covered extensively in the literature and summarized below based on the most recent personal experience. Using popular coaching terminology, those lessons (or tips) could be put into two categories:

Show up

  • Run with people who are better than you in something. It is when team members are faster, stronger, calmer, or on the opposite more energetic, and have more tenacity than you - you are getting a debit on your account in the virtual self-development bank, you get a chance to improve yourself. Surely, I wasn't the fastest, more cheerful and organized - probably.

  • Agree early enough on what will be the commonly accepted measure of success. Just participation? Or pushing for a specific time? Using benchmarks of our team performance in the previous years, on our way to the race we did put a specific target for us to achieve.

  • Come back to the trade-mill. Four years ago, during my very first participation in this race, in the middle of the steepest slop, my legs (and knowing now how human psychology works, I would correct myself saying my mind, rather legs) gave up. I wasn’t able to finish assigned to my part. A team member had to replace me. The next year it was a matter of non-negotiable nature that I would return and run the same slop again, "Staying on the treadmill is one thing, and I do think it’s related to staying true to our commitments even when we’re not comfortable. But getting back on the treadmill the next day, eager to try again, is in my view even more reflective of grit" - here Ann Duckworth' Grit comes as the most relevant and recommended reading.

Be ready to what will show up

  • Industry, designation and even a running speed can vary among team members but the values should always be aligned. Beyond the boardroom, on the track too. Not just for a sentimental reason, but very pragmatic one - team is more efficient, especially dealing with any kind of Black Swans.

  • A few years back when we did the same race with the team, somewhere near the peak of the mountain we suddenly ran into (in its literal sense) an ethical dilemma. One of the participating teams got caught with a competitive mood and left one of its team members whose speed was not fast enough behind. Should be noted the surroundings were safe and we were not speaking of physical threats or wildlife dangers, aside of the burning afternoon sun and dust from dozens of cars scratching mountain’s serpentine up and down. Imagine, your team is in a racing mood too. You have to collegially make a decision, and do it quickly as precious minutes are passing by. Do you get this person inside your car, so he is not left waiting for hours, when you know for sure this would cause physical discomfort for the rest of the team in a packed vehicle, or you cheer the person, supply with water and promise to pick him up on your way back? What if your team members have different values and therefore a view on the situation - inevitably it will take time for you all to agree on the decision and there is risk someone ultimately won’t be satisfied with that decision.. Our team decision took seconds.

  • Be ready to break the limit. This year during the very first running leg the pace was set reasonably high for our moderately athletic group. Reaching the first swap spot one of the team runners couldn’t contain her excitement of realizing it had been her fastest run ever with a speed of 4 min 56 sec per km. She was still enjoying the aftertaste of the fastest start in her life, when just three hours later during another running leg she was taking our competition over with a pace of 4 min 30 sec per km. It took the team several Fitbit synchronizations, paper and pen calculations to verify it was her who was sprinting on the track, it wasn’t a mirage.


A few more books applicable to the subject:


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