The Shalane Effect
Have you ever heard of the Shalane Effect? I’m guessing most of you have not. Let me give you a little background first.
Shalane Flanagan is a 37-year-old female American long-distance runner. Not only does she hold multiple American records, she was the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years when she won it in 2017. Note…if you’re not into running and I’m about to lose you, please stick with me. You don’t have to be an athlete or care one ounce about sports to appreciate the Shalane Effect. It has very little to do with her records, but more importantly, how she does it.
What makes Shalane so special is her ability to focus on her own success while wholeheartedly supporting and inspiring other women runners. Typically, in a ruthless competitive environment, you wouldn’t hear about someone as decorated as Shalane being supportive of others. It’s a cutthroat world, and she needs to do whatever it takes to win, right?! Well, that’s not Shalane’s style. She actively mentors other women runners, helping them improve as she improves herself. Others might think helping the competition would be to their own detriment, but Shalane believes that helping others get better helps her get better. By working with them, she has better runners to train with, which means she can expect more from every single workout. She has different perspectives she can draw on for every training and competitive situation. And, most importantly, it makes the whole process of training and competing more fun when they work together and are invested in each other’s success. Shalane recently said, “I thoroughly enjoy working with other women. I think it makes me a better athlete and person. It allows me to have more passion toward my training and racing. When we achieve great things on our own, it doesn’t feel nearly as special.”
Let’s be clear — she’s not deferential to anyone else’s success. Shalane wants to win. But, it isn’t at the cost of her teammates. She isn’t threatened by them. The success of other women doesn’t reflect negatively on her.
Shalane uses this philosophy in running, but the Shalane Effect could and should be used in all different facets of life, especially in the work environment. We should all make sure we’re pushing each other forward instead of knocking each other down. This is especially true for women because the unfortunate reality is there is still gender disparity in pay and opportunities for women, which makes it all the more important we look out for each other.
I know, personally, I’ve worked my booty off for the success I’ve had. And, when I have successes, I’m thrilled and proud. But, I also absolutely love to see others around me, especially women, succeed. I want to see my co-workers’ hard work recognized. I want to be a role model for young women just starting their careers, so they can see what is possible and hopefully do even more. I want working moms to feel supported because the work-life balance thing is crazy challenging, and I want to help them figure it out. I want to help women, who don’t feel like they are appreciated in their role, figure out the right job where they can be happy and successful. And most importantly, I want my team to know I have their back. If you screw up, I’m going to let you know, but I’m going to be there to help you learn from it so it ultimately leads to your success.
Holmes Murphy is filled with many women who feel the same way, and I’m proud to work with those who do. In fact, last year, the women shareholders pioneered an initiative called WOW! — Women Optimizing Women — with the goal of helping support the success of women throughout the organization. Each one of these women involved in the initiative is crazy successful in her own right, but each of them understands the Shalane Effect. As Lindsey Crouse accurately stated in her New York Times article, “How the ‘Shalane Flanagan Effect’ Works,” “you serve as a rocket booster for the careers of the women who work alongside you, while catapulting forward yourself.”
I hope you are a rocket booster.
Published on: 08.20.18