In the News

Running, Leadership, and the Boston Marathon

April 19, 2017

Tim Granger, an engineering leader and 2016 Gordon Fellow, has not always been a runner. In fact, he used to dislike running but found a passion for it after the passing of his brother. Today, we catch up with Tim as he connects leadership to his passion for running and his recent completion of the Boston Marathon. Congrats Tim!

I have not always been a runner and it is certainly not something I bring up all the time. Okay, maybe I bring it up from time to time but that’s because it has become a part of my life. Not talking about it would be like telling a fisherman he cannot tell any stories about the fish he caught last time he was out on the water. Similar to how the fisherman loves fishing, I love running. However, running for me is not just the pounding of the feet on the gravel. It is about the friendships, feeling of accomplishment and the all-important moment of happiness.  There are very few things that make me happy like completing a long run.

At this point you are probably wondering, what do running and leadership have in common? The truth is, at first glance, they don’t. In fact, the last time I checked the best leaders are not runners. However, good leaders do have something else and that is balance in their life. A good leader in some ways needs to be a little selfish. Before you roll your eyes, please listen to my point. We all need to be selfish in that we need to take time for ourselves in order to Lead Our Self.

Leading Oneself might be the biggest quality we neglect when we talk about great leaders. If I was to ask you to list qualities of a great leader you would probably say, “Charismatic, Driven, Motivational, Supportive, etc.” Yet we do not bring up the fact that being a good leader starts with leading yourself. It is absolutely absurd to think that something so obvious is never mentioned. Running gives me balance in my life. I can literally and figuratively temporally run away from my daily struggles. Running is my rock; it has become a part of my life.

Previously, I mentioned how I was not always a runner. I used to hate running. Throughout my childhood and through college I was a football player, an offensive lineman to be exact. As any football fan knows, linemen and running are not two things that mix well together. However, I began running after the passing of my brother, JJ. It started out as only a mile or two at a time. It was enough for me at that time. Eventually, I was convinced by a friend of mine who was also in the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program at Northeastern to run the Boston Athletic Association Medley. The BAA Medley is a series of three races consisting of a 5k, 10k and half marathon over the course of about 6 months. After completing the series I thought, now what? For me, the answer was the Boston Marathon.

While I knew there was no way I could qualify because I am nowhere close to being that fast, I could run for a charity. Choosing a charity was easy for me because running the Boston Marathon is not just about me, it is also about honoring my brother. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to run for the Samaritans, a great organization focusing on the prevention of suicide and suicide awareness.

Gordon Engineering Leadership Student, Tim Granger

Gordon Fellow, Tim Granger, crossing Boston Marathon finish line!

The last six months have been such an exciting experience for me. Whether it has been bonding with my charity team or making new friends who are in my marathon training group, the whole experience was special. I met three new friends over a conversation about how to poach an egg during one long run (yes, most of our conversations are about post run food). While the training experience was special, actually running the Boston Marathon was another event in itself.

Running the Boston Marathon was truly an emotional roller-coaster for me. The excitement and happiness of the beginning of the race quickly faded at mile 18, the hills section. Once I entered Brookline I was physically and mentally beaten. However, the crowds motivated me the rest of the way. Once I hit Boylston Street and had the finish line in sight, the noise was deafening. The race was certainly not pretty but in the end with the support of family, friends and the crowd I was able to Get It Done.

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The National Academy of Engineering awarded the Gordon Institute of Engineering Leadership the prestigious 2015 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education.

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