CAREER CLINIC: Running your own race towards success

Tuesday November 14 2017

Miranda Naiman

Miranda Naiman 

By Miranda Naiman

A wise man (my Dad) once said to me “you have to run your own race” – carve your own path towards your desired destination and keep your focus on the road. Cast your mind’s eye on the starting line of the Olympic Marathon. In the line-up you have a triathlete, an F1 driver, a Judoka, a swimmer and a shotput-thrower. My money is 100% on the triathlete – the most obvious horse to back in my view. If the triathlete chose to expend energy looking left and right instead of keeping her eyes glued to the track; she would risk impeding her performance. What if we envision the same combination of athletes, and shift the goalposts by asking them to race across an ice-cold lake. All money on the swimmer now, I’ll bet. The hard truth is someone is always going to be better than you at something. When you look at the broad scope of everything your friends are doing — which is way too easy these days, given all the outlets we can show off our lives online — you will inevitably be able to only see the imbalances, the high points in other people’s lives where yours doesn’t yet “measure up.”

When you learn to be competitive with yourself instead of with other people, you don’t have to panic because someone else got something first. You know it’s coming to you at the right place, at the right time, when you put in the work or the heart required to get it. Here’s how: Own your story – By ‘owning’, I mean speaking up about the pieces of ourselves that make us unique, without any expectation of praise or pity. To be truly invincible in this life-race and chart your own path, you need to own your story. Ask yourself whether you are inclined to conceal, avoid or outright deny parts of yourself for fear of judgement. There is no harm in speaking about the pieces of ourselves that we are proud of, and yet doing so does little more than inflate our own egos. The more powerful part of ‘owning’ our story is speaking about the those pieces that make us feel embarrassed or ashamed.

Bringing our greatest weaknesses out of the closet and into the spotlight. There is a certain catharsis in doing so, the sense of a burden being lifted. But, perhaps more importantly, there is the potential to form connections with people when we crack ourselves open for a moment – showing how fallibly human we are – and making all of us feel a little less alone. Be impenetrable to peer pressure – ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ is an exhausting game that serves no one, least of all yourself. As a classic example of looking left & right instead of focusing on the road ahead; succumbing to peer pressure will surely slow you down. Thicken your skin, and learn to avoid feeling pressured to do things that deter you from powering towards the finish-line. Set your own standards and live up to them; realising the goals you lay down for yourself is a personal choice. Happy Choose-Day! Avoid Herd behaviour - when individuals in a group act collectively without centralised direction or conform from a desire for security within a group, we call this herd behaviour.

Numerous studies on leadership show that the most successful leaders find the most lucrative opportunities where the herd doesn’t roam. Intentionally exploring ‘no man’s land’ – that others seemingly avoid – may land you with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Generate your own fuel - Stay hydrated and keep greasing the wheels on your machine; running your own race will require sheer focus and discipline. Compete with yourself – redefine winning by competing only with yourself. There is no use contending with others when real results emanate from challenging yourself to the fullest.

The potential time and energy wasted could instead be utilised to chip away seconds from your personal-best or practicing your technique. Surpass yourself and your limits; without forgetting to measure your growth as you go. Only when you use yourself as a measure for your success do you open yourself up to the infinite things you could improve on and pursue; the infinite things that might ultimately make you much happier than what everybody else is doing

Miranda is the founder & Managing director of Empower lImited; Email: