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Ordinary People Taking Action
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Guest Post By: Jenna Powers
Director, HR at Amazon
What would you do if you knew you would fail?
You read that right. What would you do if you knew you would fail?
This past weekend was the 22nd running of the Barkley Marathons, a 100 mile race in northeastern Tennessee that likely first reached those outside the ultra running world with the documentaries Where Dreams Go to Die and The Race That Eats Its Young. I won’t detail all the race quirks in this post (you can read more about it here); the most important thing to know is that this race is hard. Far more difficult than a standard 100 mile race, of which there are dozens in the US and globally every year. In 22 years, the Barkley has been completed just 18 times. Given the number of entrants each year (a process which is tightly controlled; the race is extremely difficult to get into), that means there is a 2.5% finishing rate. That means some years there are no finishers.
2018 was one of those years.
We stay in spaces where we know what success feels like. We forget that you don’t have to “win” to experience magic.
I have a saw brier gash across my face, smell like campfire and chicken, and have only slept 3 hours since Thursday night. Currently sitting in the Nashville airport, delayed and not getting into SFO until 2am. Every part of my body hurts. And I can’t stop smiling. 2018 Barkley runner, Amelia Boone, via Twitter.
What would you do if you were free from the bonds of feeling like you had to win? What would you try if no one expected you to succeed, but wished you well all the same? What would you do with the freedom to fail?
What kind of leader would you be?
Jenna is a Human Resources Director at Amazon.com and an ultra-runner, having completed a dozen races longer than a marathon since 2014. She is passionate about the intersection between career success and sport, and is passionate about those trying to improve in both areas.
Photo attributed to @benj_dbs via Twitter