The marathon test: 42.2 kilometers of learning

By Sandeep Alur|11th Dec 2014
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Anxiety, anticipation and stress (mental & physical) are evident emotions that one generally goes through in life. While they are common emotions, experiencing them intentionally by forcing yourself into a situation and attempting to control desirable outcome is never easy.

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This is my journey into the unseen and certain emotions I experienced that led to great learnings on the ground. While they are my personal experiences, I regard them as generic attributes, which have stark resemblances to what we witness in our professional career as well as personal life.

By the way, what is special about 42.2 kilometers? Yes! It is the official distance of a marathon. Certain learnings can only happen by experiencing sports, and this is one such evidence.

While I retrospect on this little feat of mine, these are stages that we go through with every significant task we take in our professional career. ‘Do the right things and rest will follow suite’ has been my philosophy and this theme held good. (Even in my marathon).

Preparation

Readiness for any activity is one of the most critical ingredients for success. One has to allot sufficient time to it depending on the task. An evidence of one’s commitment to drive positive outcome has a lot to do with how one prepares. Every step we take during the course is learning in itself. For one to succeed, it is absolutely important to understand oneself and learn on the move. If not for anything, learnings will help one make necessary corrections keeping the eventual goal in perspective.

When it comes to running, I went through this task on a weekly basis, where it was important for me to reflect on my strengths and weaknesses keeping the eventual goal in sight. Preparation is just not a routine or a tick mark activity, but a phase where I can draw parallel to ‘Machine Learning’ which drives insightful analysis and effective results.

Stay blind to distractions

An aspect that is considered a hurdle while one stays the course comes in the form of ‘distractions’. Yes! This is make or break for many in spite of staying committed to the task. You are bound to face them, but leverage them to validate your conviction to stay on course.

While ‘distractions’ are a bane, they at times can be a boon too. Those who believe in self and have an urge to compete will survive. I went through numerous hurdles as part of my preparation phase, but I stayed blind to many, while a few pushed me off course. Break in routine/preparation due to ill health was the big setback while I was peaking on my preparation. End of the day, if you are committed to a task, you will emerge back on the track. This has been one of my greatest learning.

Clarity of thoughts

Another aspect that kept me going through the preparation phase was certain clarity I had in what I wanted to achieve. My goal or aim was to ‘complete the run’ at any cost since the trail I had chosen to run my marathon was considered tough and a testing one for every individual who participates. I read an article which said, ‘If you want to test your character, run ‘Kaveri Trail Marathon’ and this was super motivating for me to stay absolutely clear. For every task that we plan or want to achieve, there is a need for each of us to find a hook into something that brings in clarity in our thinking.

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The race

Be it a presentation to management, or to a large audience or the actual race in a sport, much of the preparation and focus will go waste if we don’t stay composed. Worry less on the outcome, and keep a calm and composed demeanor – this is the need of the hour. We hear personalities from sports and other fraternities indicate that the actual day or the hour matters and is very true across the board. At times, we also hear that we tried our best, but today was just not our day.

We got to be ready to face failure along the way and it is absolutely ok as long as we have done the right things. Surpassing ones expectations is great and is no accident if preparation has taken crest precedence. If faced by failure, ask yourself if you are content with the journey undertaken. Either ways, post self-reflection, you will end up with significant learnings as long as there is no remorse pertaining to the journey.

Don’t land up in ‘what if?’

Every task we take up, the amount of effort we put in varies. True to our abilities, it is quite natural for us to go all out on tasks that fall in the so called ‘comfort zone’. I am not saying we don’t take up tasks outside of our comfort zone. We look forward to challenges in life and when it comes at our doorstep, whether or not they fall in our comfort zone, we definitely go for it and aspire to succeed. When we do so, one element that keeps us going right through the journey is the ‘feel good factor’. Along the way, irrespective of the eventual outcome, the need of the hour is to do the right things and give our best.

When the outcome does not go your way, the desirable state to be is a sense of contentment on the effort being put in. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you feel that you fell short on your commitment or the effort. Don’t land up in ‘what if I had done this differently?’

Focus on the journey and outcome will yield

It is super important to have a goal and work towards it. However, do not let the goal overwhelm you at any stage. It is important to stay on course and focus on the journey, while staying in sight of the eventual goal. Many a times, we end up with not so desirable results and one of the reasons can be overindulgence on the outcome. Stay easy, stay focused on the current task on hand, and results will yield.

Discover the ‘New You’

Journey into the unseen is an adventure. As individuals, as we step into new territories and take up new challenges, we end up with quite a bit of self-discovery in terms of our strengths and weaknesses. I believe the strength each of us have is limitless and only a journey on an unknown path will help us discover a personality in us.

Take challenges, take risks and give yourself a chance to discover the ‘New You’.