BUSINESS TIPS FROM ENDURANCE SPORTS
Chanakya Dissanayake, the senior director of MA Knowledge Services in Sri Lanka and its global head of investment research, is well known among his colleagues for being an adrenaline junkie. Rather than relax at home on weekends, he is more likely to be found cycling a dirt track or kayaking through rapids, his family in tow.
According to him, “Having an adventurous weekend recharges your batteries for what lies ahead at work.”
For Dissanayake, the best part about living in Sri Lanka is that the adventure starts right at your doorstep. “Sri Lanka provides unparalleled biodiversity, a historical context, amazing wildlife, and so many opportunities to have an adventurous life. There is an endless world of adventure that awaits you on any weekend,” he enthuses.
Here are his tips for fusing one’s work life with other passions, and how the two can leverage each other.
BE PASSIONATE IN EVERYTHING YOU DO
Sitting in Colombo but working with some of the best brains on Wall Street is no small task, but one Dissanayake embraces with passion.
“I was always drawn to investment research. I find the intellectual nature of the work, involving understanding how a company operates and different business models work, very interesting. But it’s all about living an integrated life. I don’t think what I do at work and what I do in my weekends are very different. They are just different activities that I’m equally passionate about.
I’m passionate about my work and finding solutions for my clients. At the same time, I’m very excited to find out whether I can push myself to cycle to Jaffna within a day.”
BUILD YOURSELF: MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY
Most people pursuing some form of endurance sports become obsessed with it – focusing all their mental and physical strength to excel at it.
“I believe in making yourself stronger every day, both mentally and physically. Doing something you thought you couldn’t and not giving up, and the sense of victory when you overcome your own personal barriers is unparalleled.
I’m heavily influenced and inspired by the pioneering work of Dr R. L. Spittel, architect Lala Adithya and photographer Nihal Fernando. Dr Spittel was a leading surgeon in his time, but had almost a second life exploring the eastern jungles of Sri Lanka and documenting the last of the Veddhas. Lala Adithya was one of the earliest architects in Sri Lanka, but his eastern jungle explorations and the books he wrote are what inspired me to explore these areas.
I have two boys, aged five and nine. I want to give them a balanced experience by exposing them to adventure sports, but also teaching them about the importance of conservation in Sri Lanka.”
LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY
“My own philosophy is that, to be successful at work, you need to be good at two things: One is executing things well, an the other is capability creation. Executing things well is straightforward; it’s having the energy and the closure mindset to get things done. Capability creation, on the other hand, is about thinking through solutions, coming up with new ideas and building capabilities that will give you a competitive edge in years to come.
If you’re passionate and really put a lot of effort to learn about new things, it will create a positive cycle feeding your duties in the workplace. When you look back in your career, and if the people you managed think of you as a value addition and inspiration to their careers, then that’s a great achievement.”
KEEP CALM AND FACE IT
“When dealing with contingencies, in the face of danger or an unexpected situation, it’s all about staying calm – both in business and in the jungle.
Whether it’s riding your mountain bike in the eastern jungles and encountering an elephant or dealing with an overturned kayak in a remote jungle river, the first thing is to stay calm and deal with the situation by keeping your emotions in check and fear separate from what you need to do. The calm mindset you develop in endurance sports will help you deal with everyday work challenges effectively.”
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