Why Running 1,000km Helps Create a Winning Culture
I’m turning a chore into a lesson in leadership and learning to love running in the process.
Here at adidas, we talk about our winning culture a lot. We ask our teams to set ambitious goals, raise the bar, push limits, leave comfort zones, go for moonshots, embrace failure, gain resilience and grow stronger as professionals and human beings along the way.
Why? Because of our mission. We want to be the best sports company in the world.
Ensuring each and every employee embraces this mindset is crucial to achieve our objectives.
Easier said than done, I hear you mumble? That’s why, at the beginning of this year, I thought about how I as a leader in our organization can help my colleagues live our winning culture and inspire them to embrace a winning mindset.
Choosing my moonshot
Working in a sports company where we believe that, through sport, we have the power to change lives, I picked a personal moonshot that all my colleagues can easily relate to. One that is making me feel uncomfortable every single day. I challenged myself to learn how to enjoy running – something I have never been able to master in my life.
Here is what I have learned on this journey so far:
1. Be clear on your starting point
While I have always led an active lifestyle and enjoy biking, hiking, kayaking and cross-country skiing, I haven’t done any running since my days in fencing training camps as a teenager. Which means I am starting from scratch. And this means basing my weekly training plan on my current status, not on some dream scenario. This is important to remember in our business context as well:
2. Define a north star
I picked an easy-to-remember goal: 1,000km in 2019. I figure that I should be able to find enjoyment somewhere along the way. And it’s easy to break down: approx. 83km per month, 19km per week. Just like in our business context, where it‘s important to define what each of us wants to contribute every 90 Days to ensure we are the best sports company in the world.
3. Know your why and dream big
For me, it‘s not about 1,000km. It’s about learning how to enjoy running – because enjoyment is a big driver for me. I might be able to achieve this objective in 500km – but running 10km a week a week didn’t make me feel uncomfortable enough. That’s why I decided to go for a more aspirational objective. The same is true in our business: being the best means striving for great every single day and not settling for good.
4. Get all the support you can get
I learned quickly that it is easier for me to get my kilometers in when others hold me accountable. So, I signed up for adidas runners Dubai, and take part in their weekly Women’s Run at the beach and make running part of business trips with my colleagues. Asking for help makes my ambition more manageable. It helps my environment understand what I need to succeed. Guess what? It turns out that my colleagues are very eager to be part of my journey and proactively offer support – because we all like winning together, don’t we?
5. Stay focused on the goal
Don’t let hurdles get in your way. A few weeks into my adventure, my body told me to take a break, which I found hard to accept. But soon I realized a short break would ensure I enjoyed the rest of the journey more – and have better chances of succeeding.
This also helps me in the business context: there will always be hurdles. Now I stress way less if one piece of the puzzle is missing as long as I am on track to achieve my overarching ambition.
6. Celebrate milestones
Going into my first 10k race after four weeks of training, I was nervous whether I could do it. I questioned my ambition. But I showed up. And I ran, one step at a time. Afterwards, I enjoyed celebrating with the team. Just like in my job, when we work hard we also need to take time to play and enjoy – or simply give our colleagues a high five for their progress sometimes.
In case you’re wondering: five months into my moonshot I haven’t learned how to enjoy running yet. I still struggle to get started each time and I question why I ever committed to this. But a year is long and so are 1,000km. I am convinced there’s personal enjoyment, satisfaction and pride waiting for me at the finish line.
Thanks of for your comment. Fully agree with your additional thoughts.
See you somewhere on the next couple of hundred k´s :-)
Even better, you can run with me when I am in Boston this summer... every mile counts :-)
put a Panama trip on your agenda and Jenilee and I will help you tick off a few of those km during a tropic sunrise at the ocean ;)
Keep going strong and thanks for the inspiration!
We could do a virtual run via Runtastic together one of these days... maybe while we Run for the Oceans?
I loved this post and can relate to many things on your journey!
Have your colleagues embraced the challenge as well?
Good luck for the km to go!
I guess the following post from Milena answers your question: We have a lot of people in the organization who find ways to connect with our core belief, take accountability and inspire others to get active. I am super excited whenever one of my colleagues tells me that they have started to work out or are getting into running because it really shows that through sport, we have the power to change lives.
Have a nice day
I can definitely relate to it... as I joined adidas , one of the points from my first touch base with my line manager in December 2018, was to develop myself in living the core belief because I was so out of shape, not feeling as well as I wanted to and had never ran in my entire life (Aside from when I was a kid). Lol
That’s when he suggested I worked closely with the UAE CREATORS SQUAD in driving it and working on different activities.
So I took the challenge because I knew that if I didn’t commit to something and had some sort of accountability, I would never take the step to improve myself. Therefore, I made it part of my 90-day plan!
When I started interacting with the Creators Squad, I found that the weekly retail runs were not so consistent in terms of the number of attendees (very few and a lot of people felt it was a struggle to run).
That’s when it clicked to implement other activities that don’t necessarily involve running, but if people did start running, it would improve their performance in other areas.
Making a long story short, 5 months down the road, we have consistent weekly Retail runs across all Emirates, a successful Beach Boot Camp happening 2x a month and HIIT & Zumba sessions for the Retail teams.
This is only due to taking accountability, working closely with other team members who also buy into the cause, are willing to help and want to achieve together, which now turns out to be part of most of the team’s 90-day plans!!
In summary, not only it has helped me achieve what I wanted to achieve, but it’s also helping others achieve it.
It all goes back to “THROUGH SPORTS WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE LIVES”!
This is just the start... The best is yet to come! ;)
Thanks for sharing your story! I love your energy, enthusiasm and passion in driving our core belief across the entire Retail team. You have certainly created a movement and can be very proud of it, well done!
I look forward to running for the oceans with you and the rest of the retail team soon :-)
Lots of love, Klaus