By Graeme Gordon
I recently ran the 6 miles/10k around Central Park in New York City at 6am on a Monday morning, and I was joined (let’s face it, overtaken) by many others running before work.
I hate running. I find it boring and utterly unstimulating. Intellectually, I know it’s a boost to my health; a detailed scientific study showed conclusively that those who run, cycle or walk over a mile to work each day are at least 50% more productive on average. I’m clearly not the only convert: the sight of running jerseys from three of the Big 4 and at least one of the next tier firms confirmed that our profession values this morning exercise.
I’ve never had ‘the rush’ either - the natural release of dopamine that makes running enjoyable. The only tangible enjoyment I get is in the warm shower afterwards, knowing the run is out of the way.
As I ran, I pondered how I manage to overcome the little devil sat on my shoulder, urging me not to bother.
Whenever I get up to put on my running gear, the devil whispers, “Really? You hate it, so why bother? No one will know that you didn’t run today.”
And yet I almost always run. It’s not mind over matter, rather mind over emotion, or conscious rational mind over subconscious emotional mind.
It’s a battle for all of us to ensure we don’t let our natural desire to take it easy overcome the right thing to do. You’re pitted against the most difficult person to argue with - yourself!
In work and business this is just as important.
If you receive an unwelcome or angry email from someone, it is all too easy to park it, forget it, or pass it to someone else. The best and ethical thing to do is to at least acknowledge receipt, even to explain that you need to consult someone else or time to investigate.
Letting the sender know you have received their complaint and are acting on it means they are more likely to give you time to resolve the issue. The acknowledgement of the situation and their viewpoint is often enough to appease people.
My advice, to myself and others, is to acknowledge uncomfortable situations as soon as you can, and always battle against the inner devil that wants you to trade your arduous morning run for a lie-in. Maybe no one will know you took the easier route, but taking shortcuts on the small things will make it all the easier to shirk responsibility where it really counts – in your professional relationships.