Why Runners Make Great Team Members


I have a great admiration for runners. I think we can learn from them. I’m talking about the hard-core runner who frequently turns in double-digit mileage. And, no, this isn’t a self-congratulatory post regarding my recent interest in running (otherwise, my posts would also cover fantasy football and stock trading). Let me explain why runners make great team members and leaders.

Distance running isn’t as easy as simply lacing up the shoes and leaving home. Especially for those that live in a city, plotting a safe running route can be difficult. The area I grew up in has a considerable lack of sidewalks. Flat, even sidewalks are even tougher to find. Aside from plotting the running route, one also plans for music, drink, and post-run snack. Planning is essential to business success, so it’s no surprise runners are often successful in entrepreneurial ventures.

Distance runners have a mental toughness that is tough to match. Sure, running is easier for some people than others, but to consistently run 5+ miles requires far more than just athletic ability. Weather, pain, and self-doubt are among the obstacles leading some to bail on their journey. Runners have a dedication to get things done. Even if the “elements” are not perfect, runners wear gear to adapt to Mother’s Nature fury. In any office, there are those that give up as soon as the work gets difficult. A runner’s mindset can help overcome adversity.

Runners often go into organized events with a goal. They tell themselves (or others) they hope to finish 2 minutes better than last time. Even many 5k/marathon first-timers set goals for themselves. Then, they work hard to meet them. Exactly the same type of behavior by those that have success in other aspects of life.

Distance runners ooze with confidence. They say to themselves they’re going to run for x miles and don’t stop until they make it. Then, they keep setting higher goals for themselves until they find a “comfort zone.” Some runners do it for fitness, some do it to clear their head, but all runners do it believing they can. That confidence enables those same people to overcome challenges presented elsewhere in life.

Except for a few that can rely on talent alone, distance runners possess patience. Humans are not born to run 7 miles at an incredible pace. A combination of patience and the other 4 traits mentioned above leads to better performance. One can’t go to DSW, buy a pair of running shoes, and be able to run 5 miles at optimal performance in a couple of days. Runners understand there is a process to becoming great and that patience is key. A similar patience is needed in many offices and working groups.

The Takeaway
I’m not a distance runner. I can’t run 4 miles (yet). But, I am trying (cycling is far easier). I’ve used my “employment downtime” to improve myself in a variety of ways. Even though I’ve always sworn off running, I realized the traits that made me successful in my career parallel what it takes to be a good runner. Likewise, these are the traits I look for in other people.

If you can’t use these 5 traits to improve your situation, I’d say it’s best to leave. Agree with that statement? What traits do you feel lead to success?
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