Work and Running Marathons

In honor of Sunday’s New York City Marathon, here are six ways in which work is like running a marathon:

  1. In a marathon, everybody has the same goal – crossing the finish line – but everybody achieves that goal in a slightly different way.
  2. Nobody, except other marathon runners, cares about what you had to do to cross the finish line, only that you’ve crossed it.
  3. Race day will be a success because of the months of training that preceded it, not because of any last minute herculean effort.
  4. Races feel a lot easier with an enthusiastic group of people supporting you and cheering on your success.
  5. There will, without fail, be a point where reaching the goal seems utterly impossible. In most races however, the vast majority of runners cross the finish line one way or another.
  6. Marathons seem daunting at first but the more you do them, the more manageable they become. If it gets to a point where they seem easy or boring, it’s time to move on to the next challenge. Ultra marathons? Iron Man Triathlon? Knocking an hour off your finishing time? There is always a new mountain to climb!
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One Response to Work and Running Marathons

  1. Heriberto says:

    Dear Dr. Leiter:

    I agree specially with point 3. One of the excuses I’ve heard from people who give up, is to say that “succesful people don’t fail like I did”, but I often say to them: “we put attention to succesful people only in an specific part of their life, because when they were making mistakes, we hardly notice them,or percive them as succesful people. So, you’re not out of the race, you are in another part in your race to succes. go on!”

    Another analogy between a marathonist and a worker could be that athlete’s first goal is to finish the marathon and then improve their time, and they feel succesful at every goal they achieve, even when people only recognizes those who arrive in the first places.
    Finally, we should’nt miss the point that marathonists know very well that they can reach the first places only if they are aware of their health and if they have a healthy lifstyle.

    Friendly yours

    Heriberto Valdez

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Dr. Michael Leiter, co-author of Banishing Burnout and The Truth about Burnout, is set to release his newest book on Work Engagement. Dr. Leiter founded the Canadian Centre for Organizational Research & Development and has researched organizational behaviour for more than two decades. He knows how to improve an organization’s bottom line (productivity and profitability by improving its top line - people. In fact, he and his co-author coined the term "work engagement" as the antithesis to burnout!

Over the years, Dr. Leiter has worked closely with a host of researchers, including Dr. Christine Maslach, creator of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), and most recently, with Dr. Arnold Bakker on work engagement. Now, through work with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) - the largest integrated health care system in the U.S. - Dr. Leiter has the CREW Solution.

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