The Marathon Runner

The Marathon Runner: The Path to a Successful Career is more of a Marathon than a Sprint

In 490 BC, the legend goes that a young Greek soldier was given the ominous task of running over 25 miles to deliver the message of the defeat of the Persians to a troop of anxious Athenians. According to the legend, Pheidippides ran the entire distance after fighting in the historic Battle of Marathon, burst into the Assembly announcing "Athens is saved", before collapsing on the floor and dying.

Many iconic writers have different twists on the fable, from the poet Robert Browning to historians Plutarch and Herodotus; some claim the runner's urgent cry was for help on the battlefield during the time of the Greco-Persian wars. The marathon was then from Athens to Sparta, with Pheidippides asking for aid, before returning home. Whatever version you prefer, the heroic solo-run also inspired a popular race. First commemorated at the original modern Olympics in 1896, there are over 800 Marathons consisting of 26.2 miles that are held annually across the globe. It's an arduous race that calls for extensive training, perfect timing, fitness and strategy to complete.

Many of us look at our careers as more of a Sprint – the target is attained quickly, the distance, short, and the race to the finish line done at break-neck speed – a Boldon or Bolt-style of race. But those who have experienced reality of success know that the immediate gratification that is so welcomed in today's world is rarely the path to life-long career satisfaction.

In reality, a career is more of a Marathon than a Sprint. There is a need for a commitment to apprenticeship, life-long learning, continuous curiosity about the world of work, as well as an understanding of the need to evolve and change.

Many of us are no longer staying in jobs for life; the average employee tends to transfer into a new job every 2-5 years. Similarly, many veterans are no longer retiring early, but going on to become entrepreneurs and innovators.

Having begun my career in the field of Communications at Marketing at Neal and Massy Holdings (now Massy Holdings) and continuing it at Republic Bank, I have found that apprenticeship, education, as well as being inspired by colleagues who have become mentors, have been invaluable to my advancement. I also am thankful that I was able to continue my education at The University of the West Indies, gaining a Masters degree that accelerated my passion for learning, and helped me transition into the field of Human Resources. Working with our talented, dedicated team at Republic Bank has been an honour as we develop initiatives that help employees throughout the Bank to grow and evolve in their careers. It has been a thread throughout my life and has helped me along several paths towards, hopefully, being a better parent at home, as well as a volunteer within the community.

At times we tend to hit the “runners wall", when we may feel stuck, at a loss for the next move in our career path; and when this happens it is important to look for inspiration within. There may be untapped avenues that you enjoy and may want to develop into new opportunities. This is when your HR department can be an invaluable asset; seek the objective advice of professionals. Also, over the next two months, as we celebrate the creativity in our culture with our Carnival celebration, take the time to be inspired by our innovation as a people and begin to plan for your future and the race ahead. Just remember, however, that while you're running through the fields of discovery, pace yourself, breathe and take the time to enjoy the view. There is much to see, do and enjoy along the journey.

"So is Pheidippides happy forever, – the noble strong man
Who could race like a god, bear the face of a god, whom a god loved so well,
He saw the land he saved he had helped to save and was suffered to tell"

(Robert Browning, English poet and playwright, 1812-1889)

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