6 business lessons to learn from the sport of running

A runner’s mentality aligns quite closely with what’s needed of a business leader. By Satyaki Sarkar

From helping lose weight and improving immunity to reducing stress and even risks of cancer, running is one of the best exercises for people of all ages. However, what most are unaware of is that besides its many health benefits, running can have an incredibly beneficial impact on your business skills as well. The sport trains your mind to be more focussed and aware, and helps you develop key skills that are an asset in the boardroom. Here are six reasons why you should take up running now!

1. It teaches you to keep pushing yourself
For professional runners there is no such thing as reaching the peak, because the moment they do, they set their targets higher. Even after winning a volley of awards and smashing records, the very next thing that they do is start training to break their own records and create new ones. Similarly, when it comes to business, one cannot ever become complacent, thinking that you have has achieved all you can. You need to constantly keep pushing yourself and striving for self-improvement, much like how runners keep training themselves, both physically and mentally, day after day. Only then will you be able to become a better business leader and inspire your employees to do the same.

2. It gives you a clear vision and goals
Much like in business, runners know that if they want to be the best they need to put their heart and soul into it, with a clear vision and periodic goals to strive towards. These goals serve as a motivation and give them purpose to work harder. In the same way, to achieve success in business you need a vision something all your goals lead to. So formulate a clear, well thought out vision for your professional life, create those stepping stone goals and the roadmap that helps you achieve them. The most successful businessmen are those who are truly passionate about what they do, and are driven by the will to excel, rather than any external motivational factor.

3. Adaptability and decision-making
Professional runners have to take a number of things into consideration while running and adapt accordingly. From the kind of terrain and wind direction to the distance need to cover and the obstacles to be overcome, runners need to make split second decisions in the heat of the moment, based on their surroundings, knowledge and experience. Similarly, in business you need to be able to think on your feet and adapt yourself to the situation at hand in order to succeed. This helps improve your decision-making ability, and makes you skilled enough to come up with solutions and alternatives on the go.

4. Self-awareness
When it comes to running, one of the most important things runners need to be aware of is their own limits. When running for a professional 500 metre race, unless a runner knows exactly when he can push himself into a sprint, and when he needs to pace himself, he will end up burning out and become breathless before he is even able to complete the race. Similarly, in order to succeed in business, you need to be especially aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, and know how to use them to your advantage. This will help you find ways to make up for your weaknesses, while allowing you to leverage your strengths as and when an opportunity presents itself.

5. Perseverance and the big picture
Failures and setbacks come hand in hand with a sport as competitive as running, and it is only the ones who manage to persevere and overcome them that end up succeeding. Be it seemingly career-ending injuries, or losing races you’ve trained years for, runners know that they always have two choices—giving up, or learning from failures and pushing on towards success. A similar clarity of the big picture and what you are striving towards can help you maintain your resilience and persist even in business. The determination to succeed, coupled with the willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve that success can help you treat every setback as a learning opportunity, and use them to as stepping stones to success.

6. Teamwork
Many people don’t realise it, since running is a popular single person sport, but if you take a closer look you’ll realise that there is actually a lot of teamwork that goes into running. From coaches and volunteers, to physiotherapists and one’s family, a runner’s success depends on a large number of people without whose cooperation none of it would be possible. Similarly, in business, it is important to appreciate and acknowledge the people who helped you achieve success, including team members, subordinates, superiors, mentors, and friends and family who stand by you through it all.

Photograph: Katemangostar/ 

Categories:   Health & Fitness, Sports, Work Buzz


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