13 Nov 2017 19:55 IST

Is your job a 100-metre dash or a marathon?

Treat the first three years of your job as an extension of your management programme

A career is a marathon, not a 100 metre dash. Unfortunately, most young professionals start off their first job thinking that it is a 100 metre dash and that mindset becomes very hard to change. The knowledge of your career being a marathon is very important for long term sustainability, as well as career success.

Marathon runners and bicycle riders participating in a cycle marathon or a cross country race need more of stamina, not just a short burst of energy or speed. More importantly, they need to have a proper plan to manage the long distances to be covered.

Stamina is about perseverance, the required physical and mental strength, as well as discipline for the same. This is not something a person can achieve overnight. Young professionals starting off their careers need to learn about building the stamina as athletes do for their sport — through practice, healthy habits, and other habits.


Stamina is the ability to sustain prolonged physical and/or mental effort. The various alternative terms to describe stamina are: staying power, endurance, tenacity, and perseverance, among others. This endurance or staying power has more to do with the mind than the body. It has been repeatedly proved that a person can and will be able to exceed the limits that they set for themselves in various aspects of life. Take a simple example of exercise. If a person says that they can walk for five kilometres and cannot take a step beyond that, they might not be correct. Such a person can walk for more than five kilometres if they believed that they could do so.

Similarly, the concept of stamina or endurance boils down to what you think can be done and how much more can you stretch yourself.

Expectations vs. reality

Majority of young professionals get frustrated very early and often very easily. This frustration is largely due to the mismatch between expectations and the reality. This leads to a situation where they seek alternative jobs without addressing the core issue of mismatch between expectation and reality. It is not usually practical to expect that reality can be controlled. In such a context, the only other variable which can be managed is the expectation; and the wise thing to do is to realign the expectations.

Very simply put, stamina or endurance, in the context of career, boils down to toning down or realigning the expectations with regard to the job or role. A person’s capability to handle situations would improve if their expectations are realistic. This is possible because they can then evaluate the situation without the filter of their frustrations.

Once the problem of frustration is not in the picture, the young professional will not have a compulsion to change their jobs or move out of their current situation. By default, such a person ends up continuing in the job and is able to handle the role and challenges. This enables the person to cover a longer period of time and gain experience.

This is what stamina or staying person means in the context of a career; staying on, managing challenges without getting frustrated, learning and growing.