I am running my second, back-to-back, Comrades this year, and as the day draws nearer, I have had the chance to reflect how progressing in your career can be compared to running the Comrades Marathon. Success in both takes time, perseverance, dedication and discipline.
The Comrades Marathon is an ultramarathon that is run annually between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. It is the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon race, and so is an incredibly prestigious race to do. Those that do it are hailed as ‘amazing’ or ‘crazy’ or something in-between, but either way, you’re a hero for starting and completing it. The sense of accomplishment and achievement of completing the ultimate human race is beyond what words can describe.
But the sense of achievement for this monumental race begins even before you enter the race – it begins with a vision and a dream. Similarly, when you start a business, or start a career path, it begins with a dream. This dream may sit in your heart for years before you action it. But only once you have entered the race, or have put your career advancement plan in to motion, does the hard work begin.
Advancing in your career is something most people in business aspire to. To be stuck in the same position for years on end can be demoralising and will lower your self-esteem. However, it is not as easy as it seems, and only a few get there. Career advancement, as with the Comrades, requires commitment, dedication and discipline.
To be able to run the Comrades, you need be committed to the end goal, and have the discipline to get there. You need to bank on countless hours on the road, correct eating and drinking habits, and the support and involvement from your friends and family. Without the end goal in mind, or knowing how to get there, you won’t make it to the end. Similarly, you will not progress in your career, or be eligible for the promotion, if you are not disciplined or committed enough to make the lifestyle decisions you need to make to get there. Are you willing to put the extra hours in? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone, introduce new ideas and take initiative?
While everyone wants that promotion, it is only given to those who are the most committed and loyal to the company – you need to prove yourself worthy of the position, just as you need to prove yourself worthy of running 90km. Those that don’t put the mileage in, don’t get to the end of the race, or if they are fortunate to crawl to the end, they finish completely broken and unprepared. You may have the most potential out of your team to be promoted, but without the discipline to be loyal in your current position, and the commitment you need for the hours of behind the scenes ‘slog’ work, you won’t make the cut for the promotion.
The thing about long-distance running is that you NEVER run the race distance in training! Never. You use your daily and weekly training to put time on your legs. This ensures you will be able to run the race distance on the day. For the novice runner, there is always a sense of ‘I haven’t run the distance, can I even make it?’. But this is where you need to trust your months of training! When you get that long-awaited and hard earned promotion, you will feel like a fish out of water, unsure and perhaps a little insecure in the new position. But, bear in mind that your commitment, loyalty, discipline and dedication to the company and your job is what got you the promotion. Trust in your ability. Trust in the years spent working up to this point. And then revel in the glory of a goal achieved!