Passion wins, always

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Critical factor: Passion comes from within.
Critical factor: Passion comes from within.


The simple sport of running builds phenomenal passion and is a powerful vehicle to ignite team spirit.

We always try and look for winners while recruiting a team to undertake a task within our organisations. We look for competence, leadership skills, team spirit and passion, the last of which is, to a certain extent, part of what leaders have in them. If there was a toss up and I had to choose one, I would choose passion every time. Competence can be fine tuned, team spirit can be imbibed but passion comes from within. That burning desire to do better, cannot be taught, and definitely not in a hurry.

From a runner’s perspective

On August 16, I was in Hyderabad for their first ever marathon organised by a bunch of dedicated runners — not slick event managers with huge experience, not a huge corporation with megabucks — but people who had the passion for the sport and wanted to make sure their event was the best, from a runner’s perspective. About 100 marathoners and 500 half marathoners started off post a friendly warm-up session and cheers at 5:15 a.m. while it was dark, but pleasant. Lots of police support at that hour of the morning was something I was experiencing for the first time in a race in India. There were about 30 arrows per km painted on the road to make sure that, even if you wanted to, you couldn’t lose yourself on a route that had several cross roads and forks. It started at the lovely KBR park on Banjara Hills and then went through scenic locations, including through the scenic ISB and Central University campuses, ending up in the Gachi Bowli Stadium. Neither water nor volunteers were in short supply at each two km mark, as were bananas and glucose biscuits, which never finished even as the last person passed. There were adequate toilets along the way too, just some of the simple things that a runner looks for.

I ran with folks who were running barefoot, some in sandals, others fully kitted out in their gera, but all fired up with the challenge of the gruelling challenge of a 42.195km run. I finished my 25th marathon with the last 100m inside the stadium, a special feeling which I last experienced when I ran the Athens marathon some years ago. The bonus this time was having one of the organisers accompanying me on my last kilometre. So the route, the operations, the finish and small touches were all executed well. Very unlike some of the huge events I have participated in India where toilets are hard to find at the start, water has a tendency to run out while the tailenders finish, long queues for returning chips and getting medals… I could go on.

Last year I took part in the first Ultra Marathon in India, in Bangalore, again organised by a bunch of running enthusiasts — 300-odd participants, meticulous planning and execution with a focus on the runners’ safety, operational details and a ton of enthusiasm. Everyone stretched themselves: some doing 26 km, some 52 and some 78 and one doing 100km!

We do a monthly run of 5k and 10k in Gurgaon where we have runners, kids and parents as volunteers — sincere, paying attention to details, knowing how they would like to be treated, with lots of cheering and energy. Some of the volunteers also join in the runs to join in the fun. As an organiser it is important to experience the run including snafus, first hand so that there is learning and continuous improvement. All the runners finish with a smile on their face. “When’s the next race”? is what most ask, on finishing. The number of participants is growing every month.

So while we focus on selecting fine minds in our teams, to win, we must also make sure we’ve selected some passionate hearts. Diversity is important for a winning team.

Egalitarian and participative

All sport build passion and the most egalitarian and participative of them all is the simple sport of running. Even in a cricket-crazy country like ours, there are now more runners and occasional joggers than there are cricket players if you look around in some of the parks and open spaces in our cities. If you talk about the fan following, of course it is a completely different picture.

The simple acts of unshackling yourself from inertia, exceeding past capabilities, going beyond what you ever thought possible and onwards from there builds self confidence and passion. It may surprise you that the very simple sport of running, can build phenomenal passion in each one of us, and be a powerful vehicle for igniting team spirit. Try it out in your organisation.

As in running, so also in work, and also, in life. Passion wins each time. Check it out folks; life is short with lots to learn. Passion is the critical and sometimes less obviously valued ingredient, to win. Let’s make sure you have some passionate people in your team, as that can be quite infectious, gets people charged up, often provides energy, attention to detail and that will to win.

Let’s get running and passionate!

The writer left a 25-year corporate career to found a company to enable individuals and organisations unleash their potential - via running.

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