[em]Veto! Veto! Veto![/em]
I’m doubled over, red faced, gasping and wheezing for every breath. I have been working like a galley slave and after 3 months as 3 Step IT CEO I am being shouted at: VETO! But I am not sitting in our board room, I am in a long boat. And luckily, VETO is not a rejection of a business decision, but the Finnish for the cox urging the crew to keep the rowing pace. (Veto is one of many Finnish words which can fool you, Veto! Veto! Veto! can be translated as Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!)
In the land of thousands of lakes the small village of Sulkava changes into a gigantic sports event every summer, in its best years gathering over 10 000 rowers and over 20 000 visitors. This year our company had three long boats each having 14 rowers, in a race over 60KM.
During the race weekend the company rows and celebrates together. We have no hierarchy, everybody sleeps on the floor of a boat, be it CEO, chairman of the board or a new recruit.
Our teams couldn’t be more diverse: 3 Step IT employees from 11 countries spread over 2 continents, from all ranks ranging from junior sellers to Senior leaders, from baby boomers to millennials. Some very fit and experienced others rowing for the first time, including myself. Age, gender, culture and experience all blur, we all passionately want to reach the same goal: finish the race 15 minutes better than last year!
My team, the ladies' team, finished the race in 5 hours and 40 minutes, only 10 minutes after the second men’s boat. We were spent, in pain and on the brink of collapse, but we were overjoyed and amazed that we went as far as we did. For the first time in a long time I felt the exhaustive exhilaration of pushing myself to my physical limits. I felt totally alive!
Participation to the race is voluntary and when 3 Step IT first entered Sulkava we just managed to fill one boat. This year we had more than enough volunteers to fill 3 boats, next year we will aim for at least 4. This shows not only that we are a growing company, but more importantly that more and more of our people are a willing to take on any challenge.
So why are we doing this? Why are we taking every year the time and effort to organise 3 Step IT participation to the race, creating the conditions that all of our employees want the ‘Sulkava baptism’. Some of the great accomplishments throughout history and today are marked by our capacity to absorb incredible amount of physical and mental pain to reach new heights and achieve new goals.
Being outside our comfort zone is the only way to grow. That is when we begin redesigning a new reality of what we are capable of, which in turn, gives us a new perspective of what is now ‘normal’ for us. But in Sulkava what we all learn from pushing ourselves physically, is that you are far more likely to move outside of your comfort zone when there are people around you to help inspire you forwards. When you are surrounded by others who are in a similar position and on the same journey, you are more motivated to persist, overcoming any temporary pain that may try and derail you.
Arthur C. Clarke once said: The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible. It is in the DNA of our company to win, not to fear challenges or hardship, and work as a team. In tough times we will remind ourselves that if we can survive Sulkava we can survive anything, that we are all in the same ‘boat’, a winning boat. We went beyond the possible and created a new reality for us as a team this summer. And we will carry it with us in our business until we overcome the next insurmountable challenge.
Carmen Ene, CEO, 3 Step IT