Years ago, competing in the Original Ultimate Runner Competition was as close to a perfect fit for my personality as any other sports event.
Running a 10k, 400 meters, 100 meters, a mile, and a marathon on the same day against some of the best runners in the world in their specialty satisfied a competitive fire inside and brought me profound joy that is hard to explain. I was in my element; the event was best suited for how I was wired.
A pentathlete, decathlete, or even an Ironman competitor will understand what I mean.
Doing more than one event opens the mind and soul to what's possible in the human spirit, but it also makes you appreciate what people go through to train for a single event.
I always preferred participating in more than one event. I enjoyed all track and field events and thrived with a more-is-better attitude by competing in multiple events.
When I became a CEO, Superintendent, CIO, member of a Governor's Cabinet, and executive team member of one of the largest public pension systems in the U.S. after my running career, I liked all jobs and different types of people in an organization.
These positions required a big-picture view of the organization, much like the original ultimate runner competition, where you had to understand all the events to succeed.
As a CEO and CIO, you learn an organization's processes, systems, and, most importantly, how different people work and understand information.
Using the Ultimate Runner analogy, “You get to know and understand all the events.”
You see the interconnectedness of all parts of an organization.
You understand why every position and person is essential and valuable to an organization in "their event."
You also learn how work silos work and how to unite people in different silos instead of living and working in isolation.
Massive improvements happen when people come together for the common good of an organization, understand and appreciate others' roles, and check their egos at the door.
When you work in a world of systems and interconnectedness, you learn compassion for all people, their positions, and the details about why every person and function is essential.
Like in the ultimate runner competition, you had to learn and do all the events.
I remember a few sections of people in an organization who could not stand each other for probably 15-20 years.
After we did a workflow of how everything worked between their sections (which had never been done before), they understood others' “events,” their work tasks more appreciated each other, and stopped bickering and finger-pointing.
They learned to place themselves in the other person's shoes.
What the Ultimate Runner taught me, I used my entire career.
There are many different events, but all events are equal in value. Each event requires a unique set of skills and abilities.
Said another way, all event matters. Every person counts in the best event that suits them.
Doing all those events in one day, from 100 meters to the marathon (similar to doing many different jobs), taught me to appreciate the gifts of every type of person and their unique skills in each event and the struggles they faced to be the best with the talent they were given.
Training for over a year and then racing in The Original Ultimate Runner race opened my eyes to what was possible and how to appreciate differences better than an MBA or Ph.D. program.
It taught me in a hands-on, experiential way that you can always do more, be more, and connect more with others than you are led to believe.
More importantly, I learned that every event is equal in value and necessary for success.
No person and no event are disposable.
You can read about the Original Ultimate Runner Competition if you are interested in the event.