Chasing Greatness – The Journey Within

Great achievers are known to be obsessive, a little crazy and sometimes a little over the top. Biplab Mukherjee got called all of these on 10 Jan 2017 when he announced that he’s going to run 10 kms every day for the next 365 days and a half marathon every week. As this article is being written, he has entered the final week of this 52-week endeavour. So he’s on the verge of completing something many of us would find hard to imagine, leave alone attempt. This effort has been quite a story – a story of triumph, hope, and transformation.
running man
Just to give you a bit of background, Biplab is an avid photographer by profession and is known to be a wise, level-headed sensible guy. It’s not natural for him to get into anything frivolously. So, he thought over all this again and again. Self-doubt was understandable because committing to repeat anything for a whole year makes you wonder whether you have the physical strength to do it, whether you’re mentally tough enough to handle the monotony, whether you’ll be able to make the necessary lifestyle changes needed to pull this off. When you consider the sacrifices involved, you wonder whether it’s all worth it. What if he gets injured, what if he falls sick, what if he just gets bored and gives up. To go with these trivial demons in his head, there were some larger questions – How will it interfere with his joy of running, how will it change him as a person, does he want to be that new person! The doubts were genuine, or so they seemed at the time.
Around the same time, he got introduced to Guru Nanak Seva Sansthan who are doing some fabulous work in the area of education for under-privileged kids. He wished he could do something to help them. There! That was it! Biplab decided to raise funds for this great cause by running 10k everyday for a year with a half marathon every week.
running man
He got the project underway with the hope of raising about 5 Lakh rupees for charity. People joined him for the first few runs and he found it enjoyable. But just as the initial enthusiasm began to fade and he was left to his own, the doubts raised their ugly heads again. He started feeling that his legs were beginning to tire, fatigue was kicking in, and as he started feeling pain in his shin, ankle, back of the heel he sensed an injury was round the corner and this project is all but over. But then he thought about the less fortunate kids at the GNSS foundation for whom he started this project. He didn’t want them to let them down but he was in desperate need of some encouragement from somewhere, something that assured him that doing what he was doing is ‘worth it’. That encouragement came from the most unexpected source – his 3 year old daughter who said ‘my dady is a superhero’. This innocent statement made him realise that his child looks up to him, and she will look up to him all her life. His effort must inspire her and make her swell with pride when she grows up because that’s what she’s going to learn from and these are the values she will grow up with. Quitting would give her a loser’s mindset that only knows how to justify failure. His decision to quit or brave it out was far from inconsequential. So, despite all the mental and physical issues he was facing, Biplab decided to carry on. Now this, was a key moment in his life. It is when you decide to carry on despite challenges and adversities that you begin to realise that you’re tougher than any challenge life throws at you.
Biplab ran in extremely hot and extremely cold Delhi weather, he ran through heavy rains, he ran through sickness, he ran on days he just wanted to stay in bed. Perhaps the toughest was to run through emergencies. One of the days a family member was hospitalised, the situation was tense and it would have sounded really silly of him to tell anyone that he has to leave the hospital to do the day’s 10k. Biplab stuck to his commitment and did laps around the hospital. This he could not have done without the support of his wife who despite being in a demanding full-time job did not shy from taking extra responsibilities when needed. People who initially found this everyday 10k project silly, pointless and at times irritating began to take notice of the strong will demonstrated by this man. Biplab’s family, friends, colleagues who have witnessed him do this day in day out, are in awe of his undying determination to finish what he started. This incredible journey has been full of life-changing stories and lessons. Here are a few that he shared with us;
If you wait till you’re 100% sure, you’ll keep waiting forever. Biplab was anything but certain that he would be able to complete this. But it did the most important part – get started!
There were times when he began to feel weak, felt it was all pointless and wanted to stop it. But it was doing it for the underprivileged kids at Guru Nanak sewa sansthan, and to set inspiring standards for his own daughter that kept him going.
Life will always give you enough rational reasons to quit. Just remember to never give up no matter how sensible it sounds. When you decide to continue despite adversities, that’s when you tap into the hidden reserves of strength within you. There were numerous occasions when Biplab felt that certain challenges were insurmountable and it was over. But never gave up till the last minute. On occasions, he ended up running his 10k in the last hour of the day. But he did it!
Greatness is achieved by NOT doing certain things, as much as by doing certain things. Biplab realised early in the game that if he had any chance of seeing this project through, he will have to be disciplined. It helped him cut off a few less important things for his daily routines. But once you learn this art, it can sort out all areas of your life.
Every now and then the word impossible will surface and make life hard for you. But if you’ve trained your mind to finish what you started, you realise that impossible only means a little difficult. When you take on such challenges, you realise that your body’s ability to adapt is infinite and absolutely anything is achievable.
You will never understand this unless you put yourself in situations that make you uneasy. Get out of the comfort zone and test what you’re made of and invariably you discover a person within you that you know nothing about. Biplab took on a challenge that was way bigger than anything he had ever done before. But as he refused to give up, his body adapted and in difficult times new reserves of strength surfaced. Biplab discovered that within you, there lies a version of yourself that’s much stronger and resilient than you know it to be. In simple words, there’s a hero in all of us waiting to be discovered.
Overcoming self-doubt and going for it, Biplab has proved that it’s Not about having conviction but about having faith, it’s not about thoughts but action, it’s not the accomplishment but the everyday toiling to get there – It’s a bit like life because the destination is the journey itself! The occasional glimpses of brilliance look flamboyant, but for us the greatness lies in relentlessness dedication to fighting all odds.
A regular family man who does a full-time job, looks after his family and social commitments has in the last 358 days run close to 5000kms in less than a year with a monthly mileage of close to 400Kms, run over 300 – 10K runs, Over 50 Half marathons, 4 Ultra marathons, including a brutal 100km race and counting. These are mind-boggling numbers by any standards and they’ve been achieved by an ordinary man who decided to go out of his “comfort zone” and chase his own greatness. The last time we checked, great people were also ordinary people with a strong desire to do something out of the ordinary and had the everyday focus and discipline to get there. Fitso salutes the intention, spirit and infinitely strong will of Biplab Mukherjee and we wish him more power to bring about change and inspire people like no other has!
To mark the completion of this great endeavour, Biplab has scheduled an event for 10 Jan 2018 where he’s inviting people from across the country to run10k wherever they are and post them on the FB event page to support the cause. If you’re inspired by Biplab’s effort, we urge you to join him on the final day and contribute to the cause in whatever capacity you can. Here are the links;
To join the 10k event on 10 January, click on this link and mark ‘going’
To donate for underprivileged kids’ right to education