Corporate Culture

What You Missed at the Boston Marathon

Mark Fitzgibbons
Mark Fitzgibbons
Communication Director, Employee Benefits

Several weeks ago, I ran the Boston Marathon along with about 26,000 other kindred spirits. It was an epic event. It’s sort of like the Super Bowl for runners, but the participants pay to play, the fans get free front-row seats, and there aren’t any commercials or time-outs. This year’s Boston Marathon was also epic for what Mother Nature dished out — epic cold, epic rain, epic headwinds, epic misery for 26.2 miles.

But, I don’t want be the guy who drones on about the epic marathon he just ran. I hate that guy. Everybody hates that guy…especially when they blog about it.

However, now that it’s over, this year’s Boston experience reminded me of a few lessons that apply equally well to marathons and to employee communication efforts. Granted, it sounds like a bit of a stretch, but see if you don’t agree…

  • You get out of it what you put in. When you get to the starting line of a race, you either trained or you didn’t. You can’t finesse your way through it. If you haven’t prepared, it’s going to show. The same applies to our communication efforts. When we set clear goals, come up with a good plan, stick to the plan (even if it gets a little painful), and execute consistently, our results will improve. We have to be willing to show up and do the work that needs to be done to be successful. Shortcuts will shortchange us and keep success outside our reach. 
  • You can do more than you think. To most people, running a marathon can seem like a daunting challenge. Maybe even an insane one. But, if we give ourselves enough time, plan ahead, and break the challenge down into manageable pieces, we can reach our ultimate objective. And if our employee communication goal is to “get our employees to love our benefits program,” as crazy at that may sound, it’s achievable with the right strategy, resource commitment, and time horizon. Break down a huge goal into smaller, manageable steps, where each of them gets us a tiny bit closer to making our dream come true.
  • Embrace obstacles. Marathons and employee communications rarely go exactly the way we plan. Boston had wind-driven snowfall all day before the race and wind-driven rain on marathon day. Your IT department just implemented a new security protocol that blocks all incoming emails from your formerly-whitelisted vendor partner. Setbacks and obstacles are part of the process, and they should be looked at as a challenge, not a barrier. The key is to learn how to plan for and manage them.
  • Just take one step at a time. Any journey starts with a single step. And while the marathon took another 46,000 steps or so, we can complete our employee communication efforts with far fewer steps.

Now, if you yearn for more information on this year’s Epic Boston Marathon, let me know —  I’ve whittled my story down to 26.2 minutes!

Explore more from Holmes Murphy