I am not a runner. I have never run. Then, one day, tired of paying gym fees and never actually going, I decided to join my local running club. As I waited at the track for the rest of the group to gather, I couldn’t help wondering whether I’d be capable of running round the track even once…
The group got together and, as the new comer, I was introduced to everyone and to the trainer, David. After a few stretches, David told us to do a couple of warm up laps. A couple? To warm up? Was he serious? So, the guys took off at a gentle pace and I did my best to keep up. I was determined not to be left behind and they were kind enough to mark a pace I could follow. Before I knew it, I had run my first two laps!
After this small yet glorious victory, the guys took off and David gave me my instructions. He would tell me when to rest, when to stretch and when to keep running. And off we went. He kept asking me to do more laps. And more laps. And yes, more laps.
By the end of my first training session I had run 10 laps! (most likely more than in my entire pre-running club life). If someone had told me beforehand that I was capable of such an achievement, there’s no way I’d have believed them. I honestly didn’t think I had it in me. I ran because David told me to. Because he knew I could. Because he believed in me.
Whilst going round the track for my last two laps, it occurred to me that my experience was actually quite similar to that of our MBAs. The MBA program is extremely demanding, to the point students sometimes wonder whether they’re going to make it to the end and question their own ability to do so. The pressure of the course work, job interviews, team assignments, exam preparation can all seem rather overwhelming and unreasonable at times. And yet IESE students do it. Because we tell them to. Because we know they can. And on the way they discover that they can go way beyond what they thought were their limits.
After my 10 laps perhaps I am closer to what a first year MBA student feels having just submitted the first ABP paper!
Great article Elena. It reminds me how I was the slowest (and fattest) kid in my elementary school, and how I couldn’t run even one lap (1/8 mile) while my school mates could complete a mile with ease. It wasn’t until my mid-forties that I began running: slowly, but consistently. Today I run 5K almost every Saturday. I think my old school mates would hardly believe it.
I see you wrote this article a few years ago. I hope you’ve kept it up. If not, what a great excuse to get back on the horse! All the best.