From marathons to MBAs: Leadership lessons I have learnt from running

 

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I don’t think my MBA class would believe me if I told them that I use to hate running. I’m known amongst the year as that crazy girl who trained for her first marathon during the notoriously busy Module 1. This means I now know Lausanne’s running tracks almost as well as I know IMD’s dungeons.

However, when I was a child, I genuinely did hate it. My least favourite day of the whole school year was Sports Day. It was pure humiliation. I would be persuaded into running distances like the 1500m (around 3% of a marathon’s distance…) and spend the whole race wheezing, walking and complaining my way round.

Something changed when I was 18. I spent a year off, part of which working for a charity that looks after boys who lived on the streets in Kenya. When I came back to England, I felt compelled to do something to continue supporting them, so I decided to run a half marathon and raise money.

With that decision, I became a runner. It was difficult making this transition; going from someone who genuinely could not run longer than 2 minutes to someone who felt happy trudging round the London parks took perseverance, dedication and a total change in mindset.

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The reason I’ve carried on running for the last 10 years is not because of what it does for me physically. Yes, it is great to be fit, sleep better and have improved focus during the day, but the real reason is because of what it does for me mentally. Forcing myself to get up for early morning runs whilst others are still sleeping has strengthened my drive and self-discipline. Spending hours on training runs has taught me the importance of practice to improve a skill. Finding a good running buddy has shown me the benefit of support during challenges. And bad running days have made me more resilient whilst good running days make me feel empowered.

This MBA year has put all these skills to the test and the current job search is no exception. There are highs and lows. Many hours are needed to hone your interview technique and discipline to say no to opportunities that are not right for you. I have had setbacks, like I am sure some of my classmates have. With these I find it important to remember the resilience I showed during the marathon, pick myself up from momentary disappointment and carry on. There have also been some fantastic opportunities that have come up as well, and like that moment when I crossed finish line after 4 hours and 13 minutes of running, I make sure to celebrate these.

As another week begins where I find, like all of the Magic 90, I have the near impossible task of fitting in ICP work, job applications, interviews and a personal life into a limited, ever-accelerated amount of time, I like to remind myself of that 18-year-old girl who hated running. Who would have thought she could have run a London Marathon this year?

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Great achievements are possible with hard-work, determination and a little bit of luck. So good luck to all the Magic 90 as we move into this final phase of the year. By supporting each other and applying that determination we have shown throughout, I know that the possibilities for us all are endless. There is ultimately nothing more rewarding than putting a goal out there, working hard for it and seizing it with both hands when you achieve it.

Maisie

 

 

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