From boardrooms to back-to-back meetings, successful men often have a lot working against them when it comes to fitness-literally. According to a report by the Harvard Business Review, executives, managers, and professionals spend 62% of their waking hours on work. So, one has to allocate the residual time to personal life or family, pursuing an interest, and maybe squeezing in some time for fitness. There are so many demands of the job and company that these are put on the back-burner.
Being resilient and healthy at work is vitally important for top executives; it is incumbent on leaders to set the example. For leaders to be effective, they have a responsibility to do all they can to look after their own health and also to ensure the well-being of their employees. If one didn’t know better, one would have mistaken Vijayaraghavan Venugopal for a professional athlete. How else to explain a streak of sub-3 hour full marathon finishes; 2.59, 2.55, 2.57, 2.58 (Paris 2016, Berlin 2016, Boston 2017, Mumbai 2018)?
ViRa (as he is called) is the CEO of a start-up sports nutrition company and was always passionate about sports since his early years. However, once he started working, with a 9 am-6 pm job, six days a week, there was little time to pursue other things in life, leave alone fitness. It’s difficult to confine a fitness fiend to the cubicle. “I picked up running in the year 2012 since it was easy to do and for someone who had a history of sports it was easy to pursue it once I started. It was a goal oriented sport for me, increasing distances and times to chase, and create newer challenges. Further, it was something I looked forward to beyond my work, kept me fit, helped me make friends and build a social community.”
Running is a solitary sport, to keep it going one needs to imbibe discipline, time management, decisiveness, positivity, confidence, set some goals and be committed to them. The sweat, the fatigue, the endorphin rush all give a boost, unleashing a cascade of neurochemicals and physically bolstering the brain's infrastructure. This methodology can be translated into a mindset that will improve performance in other areas of life. Same are the qualities that one has to replicate to thrive as a leader and run a company.
ViRa says, “Being a company that’s into sports nutrition, an industry largely an unorganised, fragmented and unstructured sector, it has its own challenges since nutrition is something that isn't much talked about in India. I have high expectations of my team members. I want them to work hard, keep their skills up-to-date, and show genuine enthusiasm for the job. How can I expect these qualities in my team if I don't set the same expectations for myself? Being fit offers me all sorts of benefits to be effective at work: high energy, clear head, and low stress in an atmosphere where there are frequently changing demands.”
On his elite-like performances in all the runs he races, ViRa says, "One trick is to chase tough battles and take our time to train is signing up for a few races in the year and train hard for it. All of a sudden time will appear and one will be amazed where it came from. The important thing to remember is that it's not about balance; it's about integration... to really focus on making sure you're integrating all four aspects of your work, your family, your community and yourself."
To become better in all facets of your life, you'll need to find a sense of discipline. Running is a tremendous activity that can enact a level of discipline in all that you do - as it allows you to face nearly all of life's challenges.