The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

By November 29, 2011Construction Marketing

The title has been taken from a short story written by Alan Sillitoe in 1959. It is the story of a young teenager named Colin Smith who lived and grew up in Nottingham. His family were poor and his prospects were very limited apart from his main interest in petty crime.

Colin is caught robbing a bakery and sent to an institute for young offenders. With no hope in these bleak and depressing surroundings he begins to find purpose in long distance running. Colin’s determination and prowess gives him purpose in life from the regime of the prison and alerts the prison authorities to his physical ability.

He is offered the prospect of an early release from the prison if he should win a cross country race in which he has been entered. To win this race would give him the opportunity to leave the prison earlier than expected as well as give the institution a real PR boost.

However, on the day of the race he speeds ahead of the rest of the field and just before the finish line stops and refuses to run any further. He is eventually passed by the other runners and his defiant gesture enrages those wanting him to win. Smith resigns himself to the soul destroying hopelessness of life in the prison but has no regrets about his choice to lose the race.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple wrote in his book iWoz how he thinks like Colin Smith and was influenced by Sillitoe’s story. Interesting!

Social Media

1.   I think there is something of Colin in those who are ‘different’ in the way they approach life and make decisions. Although it is only a story we read about a young man unafraid to stop just before the finish line – Why? Because he wanted to make a statement to the authorities.

2.  More and more I believe that Social Media is for the ‘long distance runner’

3.  He or she is not afraid to make decisions that cut right across the acceptable trends of business practice.

4.  In a conversation with friends recently we touched on those who are ‘original’ thinkers in social media circles.  They think differently and create trends while others stir up a lot of dust by simply emulating the trend setters.

5.  I understand that in order to take my business forward I need ‘silence’ in order to think clearly. Yet, in our modern day society we are almost afraid of such a gift!

6.  We all know the story about the importance of ‘sharpening the saw’ if we are to sustain the business of cutting down trees.

Finally, I am starting to see that running a business today and in particular using these Social Media Tools for marketing purposes we need to become remarkable rather than ordinary.  That is the goal for me, but how do you feel about this?  Please tell me…..

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