Challenging Limits, Finding Courage

Some time ago I read this article and couldn’t help but let it guide me since, just as its author, I too work in Human Resources and, for a few years, I have been a runner. For my overseas friends, the text is in Italian and so let me try to provide a summary, also adding my personal opinion on its subject.

In just a few words, the article lists the reasons why a company should hire a runner - running makes you strong, enhances one’s ability to work keeping goals and results in mind, as well as self-motivation, discipline and determination, self-control and resistance to stress, and team spirit and empathy.

All true, but I would like to focus on what running most taught me: humility and courage.

In pursuing sports, one must also look for “the possible in the impossible”, seeking a continuous challenge. This is true for athletes as much as it is for enthusiasts; those who love running and, at any level, appreciate the competitive dimension, know well how the motivation that supports the most demanding workouts is precisely the desire to overcome limits: improve their personal best, be able to keep up with distances and paces that at first seemed impossible.

The challenge with one’s own limits thus fuels the drive and the inner spring that pushes towards increasingly ambitious results. Moreover, it is precisely the desire to improve that, progressively raising the bar; that allows us to discover what we are truly capable of (courage).

However, when comparing ourselves with others and competing we must always remember that there will always be someone more gifted, better, faster than we; let alone the fact that some results are precluded to us because of physical, age-related or mental limitations. 

In general, if ambition is not moderated by the smart knowledge of one's own limits and frailties; courage turns into reckless temerity, preventing us from expressing our potential and making the experience of failure as painful as that of a possible injury. If the ability to keep our excessive ambition in check is lacking, each result will seem insignificant and every conquest tasteless.  

And this, after all, is the risk that has always inspired the No limits culture: having eyes and a heart only for what is extraordinary and surprising risks making the magnitude of ordinary challenges (humility) seem trivial.

The most demanding challenge then is to be able to recognize that there are limits that hinder us and that prevent us from expressing ourselves at our best, discovering what we are truly capable of; and there are limits that, instead, de-limit us, defining the perimeter of our being. The first are obstacles that sports practice teaches to challenge and overcome with courage; the latter are essential human traits we must be able to recognize and accept with humility.

It is with these thoughts in mind that I’m preparing for my first Marathon, pausing to think how important it is to have courage in everyday life, in the work I do every day, and remembering that humility goes way further than arrogance and pride.

Barbara Pucci
IT, HR Director, Panini

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