This past weekend I had the privilege of watching my wife run a marathon. This makes the third one we’ve done, and while the first two were a little overwhelming I feel like this time we “knew what we were doing”.
If you ever get a chance to go watch a marathon do it! Don’t make an excuse, if it’s cold bundle up, take a thermos and go, because I doubt you’ll find any event more inspiring. As children we have a constant sense of wonder and our social nature makes even ordinary things like kickball inspirational dramas, but as adults I find we often have to reacquaint ourselves with this intensity.
Even if you feel running a marathon is beyond you, everyone can spectate, and trust me this is spectating at it’s finest. As runners approach many have names on their shirts and watching their effort gives you something to cheer about.
Almost constantly your cheering is acknowledged and many times I’ve been told “Thank you, it helps”. As my friend said during our first race; “They need us!” and I challenge you to find another venue with as lower barrier to participation, where so many people need you so much.
After such a fun and intense weekend it was a challenge to go back to work these few days before our U.S . holiday and see such a blatant lack of intensity. In a race, the conclusion is such a singular result, yet passion and support abounds. One would expect a similar attitude in business with so much “on the line” for so many.
Yet often, the only passion we see in business is the drive to get ahead or “to win”. In a marathon, with time such a singular indication of “success”, I’ve watched runners “loose time” helping one another. Whether it’s a moment after a fall or running the entire course at a slower pace there’s a sense of “community accomplishment” in running that’s absent in business.
In business “We get what we reward” or so the saying goes. Yet in a marathon, with no real reward for a faster race or for helping someone out, we witness the type of behavior I believe we all should drive for.
Perhaps it’s an intrinsic motivation that we can not teach of cultivate in our workforce, but even if that’s so I believe it’s something we must all strive to represent. It’s a level of constant neivity that hearkens back to our childhood. It’s the attitude embodied in the opensource movement, both by code and by open knowledge.
I hope a generation of success, fostered by that open spirit, will teach us we can all run the marathon of business knowing someone will be there to pick us up if we fall and pace us without guilt, and all with thousands of fans cheering their guts out.