Comfortable in the discomfort zone

Lessons from record holders in marathons that apply to professional journalism and as a reflection for leaders in times of transformation

By Anik Suzuki

Eliud Kipchoge values the journey before the milestones achieved – Photo: Shutterstock

“We are living in a time in which it is possible for us to overcome human limits in professional journalism as well: the union of forces between the speed and capacity of generative AI with our creative power, talent, empathy and ability to build the future.”

A few weeks ago, I delved into the story of Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, considered the greatest marathon runner of all time. I wanted to mention him in a seminar for leaders in which he would talk about extraordinary achievements, which allow us to realize dreams and surpass brands, but require us in the same proportion.

Eliud is a two-time Olympic champion (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020), world champion in long distances and winner of the London, Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo marathons. In Berlin, he not only won the 2018 and 2022 marathons, but set new world records: in the first, he completed the 42.195km in 2h01min39s and, in the second, he surpassed himself, completing the race in 2h01min09s.

In 2019, in an unofficial race held in Vienna, Austria, Eliud surpassed what was previously considered the human limit for marathons and became the first man to complete the course in less than two hours: 1h59min40s.

When researching him, I realized that, when he talks about himself, Eliud values less the achievements and places more emphasis on the journey. He shows pride and gratitude along the way. He usually talks about the success factors that brought him here: self-discipline, positive thinking, consistency, believing in yourself and, what caught my attention the most, being comfortable in the discomfort zone: “accepting change and getting used to it ”.

Which makes me think that few activities connect as strongly with this topic as journalism. In itself, the routine of newsrooms is not having a routine, as facts are not scheduled in advance. But, I am referring to the intense changes generated by digital transformation, the new habits and interests of the public and, more recently, Artificial Intelligence (AI). Journalists, believe me, are in a constant zone of discomfort, and, like Eliud, many feel comfortable, stimulated and willing to pay the price of experiencing this revolution.

This twinkle in the eye comes from the belief that we are living in a time in which it is possible for us to overcome human limits also in professional journalism: the union of forces between speed and the capacity of generative AI (yes, it's incredible, but it still depends on us to receive the inputs) with our creative power, talent, empathy and ability to build the future. My vision is that even better journalism is coming, which is also great news for all of us.

Anik Suzuki is CEO of ANK Reputation and member of the Editorial Board of RBS

*Article originally published in Zero Hora on July 29, 2023


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