#Mygreateststrength I To me Catharina is the quintessence of a strong, creative woman who knows exactly what she wants to achieve in life. She has founded not only one but several companies, is a book author (“Work is not a job“, “Frei sein statt frei haben“) and speaker at seminars and conferences like the re: publica. Independence and self-determination are her topics – oh, and you realized that I admire her very much, right? And it is all the more exciting to get an honest and powerful answer from a woman like her to my question: What is your greatest strength?
“When Sonja reached out to me regarding this blog series, I noticed that I have never really deliberately thought about my strengths. And that´s true for a lot of people I know. They perceive their weaknesses, sometimes amplified, even add some more and completely neglect to appreciate their unique strengths, recognise their talents and develop them further. I became aware of my strengths when I was doing what I love most – while running.
My distinctive athlete mindset has always helped me in my life. I believe that everything that makes me strong, I’ve learned from running. To me it´s obvious that nothing ever improves by itself, it needs patience and above all – training. The analogy to my entrepreneurial work makes sense to me: Making more of what I´m good at and what´s important to me. With my running I pursue a sport I have a certain talent for, that I enjoy and for which I have the physical abilities. That of course is something different for everyone. But what’s the same for everyone is: Your body shows you quickly that you can improve immensely but you can only reach those goals with joy for which you are “made for”. To bother with something that is just not for you or something that´s just not who you are is misleading. This applies to running and to life: Comparing yourself to others is a waste of energy. It´s much better to focus on your own route ahead and try to get the best from your true self.
It takes the ambition to improve yourself, but also to gain pure pleasure from doing what you do. Everything that´s important in life needs love and work (you could also call it dedidaction or enthusiasm). You learn to appreciate the competition, get the the will to win and have fun doing so, but you also have to train yourself again and again to accept setbacks. Sometimes it works out, you don´t even feel the strain, and sometimes it is hard and demands a lot – then you have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and pull through. But getting enough rest is also important because if you overdo it it´ll cost you and it will get you nowhere.
All of these are, of course, simple insights, but they help me in my entrepreneurial work every day. The mentality of the endurance athlete, who can love what the journey has to offer and who is able to relax on the way, helps me to work on many projects at the same time without overburden myself. I´m with John Bryant who allegedly said „My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy.” Mindfulness, slow movement, work-life balance, relaxation, resilience, drinking plenty of water – all these things in which the modern human being nowadays is desperately looking for guidance, happen automatically: You don´t need a guide or a feel-good manager, if you lace up your running shoes every day. The body is a subtle compass: it shows you how reliable and resilient it is and to know yourself as powerful and capable gives you an incredible feeling of confidence. On a bad day your body may trick you and lead you to believe that you’ve reached your limits already, on other days it may be true and you have to be able to distinguish that, in running and in life. I may make the impression, that I am just a self-confident person with strong convictions. But in fact, I´m also overcareful (chicken-hearted at times) and constantly challenging my own beliefs. But essentially I know that I MUST believe in myself and my journey. A certain tenacity and the self-confidence to face unfamiliar situations I have acquired by running. And since I believe in myself, I also believe in others which inspires my work overall.
To be able to rely on yourself and to adapt and pull through, is one of the most important benefits of the endurance sports to me. You learn to be honest to yourself – on the long distance you can´t fool yourself. And this helps to develop no less than a healthy self-confidence and a soothing self-assurance – that sort of assurance I wish everyone.”
Portrait photo of Catharina Bruns by Sophie Pester.
Running photo by courtesy of Catharina Bruns.