Managing the Miles and the Mind

CLP India chief shares tips from training for a marathon to running an enterprise
Apr 6, 2018 1:00 PM ET

It’s four in the morning in Mumbai. The alarm clock goes off in the bedroom of Rajiv Mishra, Managing Director of CLP India. He wakes up afresh to get ready for his running routine – his passion.

After a health shock in 2011, Rajiv now gets up at this wee hour six days a week to train before the city gets active with the hustle and bustle from commuters’ traffic. “You get more out of a day if you start your day early, even if you just read the papers or have a chat with your friends and family. You have more options. If you wake up late, you are in a catch-up mode,” Rajiv says.

Mind over power

This philosophy of a prepared mind comes from Rajiv’s training for marathons over the years. “You can’t force yourself to get up at 4am; you should do so because you want to do this. Long distance running is not something we humans can do naturally and you need to work for that. It takes me 16 weeks to prepare for a full marathon,” he says.

“When I run a marathon, I don’t think of 42km at the start – it is always 5km at a time,” Rajiv shares. “This has taught me how to break up a challenge into meaningful parts and deal with them with a ‘can-do’ attitude, which also rubs off on my team at CLP India.”

To Rajiv, the sport is a contemplative and self-discovering ritual – a daily chance to meditate. “We seldom have the time to step back and think about the problems in life. Running is a good time when I can speak to myself, listen to myself, and clear my doubts,” Rajiv explains. “I’m more contemplative when I run, and I hope it has translated into a more balanced approach when I make business decisions.”

Actions speak louder than words

Having joined the CLP Group in 2002 and being in charge of the company’s business in India, Rajiv is aware of the influence he has on others. “You have no idea how many pairs of eyes are looking up to you. You are setting standards every moment,” he says. “Running teaches me that actions speak louder than words. Amazingly my 15-year-old daughter has also started running with me.”

“You won’t be surprised to see me running around the Paguthan Power Station – there is a well-made track there that is good for the knees – or the water tank at the Jhajjar plant. And some colleagues noticed that and have started to run too. It is better than telling them to work out verbally – and I can exchange a few comments with them on the merits of the latest running shoes!” Rajiv says. To him, this is what the CLP value of humanity is all about.

“Those of us who are in leading positions have the responsibility to be humble and treat everyone with respect. A particular quote has always stayed with me – ‘you are free to disagree with me as long as you are not disagreeable’. It is only natural to have different opinions and perspectives, and it is down to us as leaders to listen to our team.” Rajiv says.

Less is more

Besides being a role model through actions and taking opinions from his colleagues, marathons also inspire the company head with over 20 years of experience in the power industry that the single-mindedness of purpose is the key to both work and life. “To many runners, running for a certain time length or covering a certain distance are very similar. However, you can’t mix the two. If you want to cover 8 to 10km today, don’t think about how much time you need to finish it. It will give you stress when you measure the distance and look at your watch at the same time. You have to make your choice.”

Action-wise, Rajiv does not listen to music on mobile phones when running, nor does he bring work home – he always concentrates on the task in hand. “Once I finish running, I clear my mind and stop thinking about it,” he says. “After all, we must not jump ahead of ourselves.”

A family as great as the world

Steering a company with a foreign root, Rajiv is expected to have a global vision – not only at work but also in his private life. In this regard, running marathons in different cities with his family is a good way for Rajiv to gain global exposure.

“The most charming experience I have had was in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. There were only two Indians in the whole race. As my wife and I completed the race, I heard an announcement in Slovenian, which of course I didn't understand. But I could hear 'India' and 'Mumbai'. Then masses of people started clapping and cheering around me. It was very special, and they were intrigued, how come two Indians came all the way from the other side of the world and joined this marathon? But more importantly, it helps build bridges between nations and cultures, because it's not a part of the world where there are many Indian visitors, nor are there many Slovenians visiting India.”

Now 51, Rajiv and his wife choose to run a new marathon in a new city for their family vacations. They have left footprints in Bangkok, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and other cities.

"But now with our kids growing up, it's been more complicated," Rajiv shares, "Our son has left to study in the US a year and a half ago, and now we have to do a retour as for where we go for holidays! So I have to juggle between my schedule and his...when kids grow up, this is what happens."

The world for a business leader with a worldwide vision may be boundless, but for Rajiv, his family is as great as the whole world out there.

To learn more about CLP’s connection with society, please check out the latest issue of CLP.CONNECT.