I realized the power running unleashed within me 15 years back, and its potential of making me fitter, it became addictive after a couple of years,” says Rohit Jetly, Head - Shared Services & India Operations; Site Head – India, Fidelity International.
In an interview with ETMarkets, Jetly said: “I sprinkled in listening to music during my runs to bring in more aspects of my mind into the run. Now running is an integral part of my life” Edited excerpts:
Thanks for being part of this segment. With decades of experience in leadership roles, how do you keep yourself mentally fit?
I firmly believe that a fit body is an enabler to fit the mind to begin with.
Hence, exercising regularly is important for me. I run 5 km every time I run on a weekday (2-3 times) which is about 28 minutes or so.
My Sunday (fixed day) runs are usually 10 km which is about 57 minutes or so. I try to do about 90 km a month totalling to about 1000 kms a year. If I am working out, that is usually 30 minutes with free weights.
The additional thing that works for me is sleeping well! A rested body is an important ingredient to a fitter body and mind.
That’s the physical fitness regime for me, but the mind is probably an even bigger aspect of fitness. For me, talking positively with myself and visualising goals coming to life is a huge enabler to a happier and fitter state of mind.
At the intersection of mind and body, I indulge quite a lot in photography, music, and reading. I enjoy shooting nature and buildings through my lens, which is either my iPhone or my Canon.
Recently, I started an Instagram page to share my creative musings with others, and quite enjoy interacting with other photographers there.
On the other hand, my taste in music is very adaptive, I listen to what my kids listen to (hip-hop largely) and a lot of Pink Floyd and Punjabi songs. I love spending time with my family and enjoying movies over the weekends at home together.
But stress points do sometimes come through and the trick is to manage them proactively. Being better prepared for situations you don’t like is important and goes back to visualising the goals coming to life.
Additionally, as I have said, living life on more than one leg is important. Weaving around multiple aspects is how I live my life, and that includes work and the network I build, that helps keep the balance.
Wow! 1000 km in a year -- that is a steep target along with a 30-minute daily workout is something that very few in your position could do. Tell us more about it – how it all started and what inspired you.
It all started as a stress buster when I was in my mid-career, a point in life we all deal with! I just happened to sign up for a 7 km freedom run out of curiosity (read an article in the newspaper about the benefits of running and it resonated well, so I had to push myself to experiment; after all what is the point in reading if you don’t try!).
And there has been no looking back since. This was over 15 years ago! During that run, I realised how my mind just relaxed and breathing well became the focus and I quite loved that state.
As I realised the power running unleashed within me, and its potential of making me fitter, it became addictive after a couple of years.
Just being with myself gives me mindful minutes which help me refresh and reimagine challenges and life in general. I saw my mental state evolve to a calmer self and at the same time, my body responded well too.
I sprinkled in listening to music during my runs to bring in more aspects of my mind into the run. Now running is an integral part of my life.
Tell us about your diet - is that also strict as per your daily schedule?
Not pedantic about it but very mindful about what I eat, where I eat it and when I eat it. I try to mix up a high fibre and high protein diet and keep away from sugars and processed carbs.
I try to eat fewer portions but eat four meals a day!
As I run and work out, hydrating myself with salts and fluids is important for me. I tend to focus more on micro-nutrients rather than only macro-ones which I think everyone does (carbs, protein etc.).
I include micro-nutrients (minerals and vitamins), through a lot of different kind of nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, chia seeds) in my diet and ensure their levels remain appropriate.
What about books? What are you reading nowadays?
Reading is an integral part of my life; I love reading whatever I can but enjoy reading material at the intersection of economics and human behaviour, and philosophy and science.
A couple of my recent personal favourites are ‘Factfullness’ (Rosling) -- it focuses on the habit of carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts, something I believe is the key in this age of data overflow.
The other one is ‘Wait’ (Partony) -- it is almost a counterintuitive guide for the procrastinator in all of us; when we take control of time, and slow down, we make better, more efficient decisions.
Reading is key for me, as I said, it creates the right balance in keeping myself mentally fit.
More recently I have been reading translations of the Vedas and I love interpreting them. Currently, I am reading ‘Gleanings from Rig Veda’ which is quite interesting as it deals with consciousness in its entirety.
It establishes that the ultimate truth transcends space and time both and that knowledge can possibly have limitations! Now that is intriguing enough to dig up more, right?
With a leadership role comes stressing responsibilities, what are some of the challenges that you have faced and how do you deal with those?
Some are very typical challenges, and I am not unique in that sense. Tough decisions around situations and people or a strategy are the most common ones, things like delivering tough decisions, or motivating teams during tough times and accepting or giving feedback to name a few.
Anything that deals with emotions will induce stress -- it will be fast-paced and have lots of emotions involved.
For me, separating out the emotion to the extent possible helps make the discussion more logical and creates lesser stress points.
Identifying my stress signals is the key and then stepping back for a bit to recompose helps. But more importantly, it is the physical and mental fitness that matters in these situations and that becomes the key.
Getting my emotional and mental state into a mode where I respond rather than react is something I continuously work towards. Finding mindful minutes either while running or just simply internalising and focusing on my own helps.
Also having a network helps me; it helps by uncovering ways to boost my energy and maximizing what I do with my time.
Together, I can determine which of my responsibilities are essential, and which ones are patterns of behaviour I have created that may not be necessary. Hence building a good network that I rely on to relieve my stress points is important.
Overall, realising that managing stress is mostly internal, and not external is the key for me! One needs to change how one thinks, behaves, and responds to situations and contexts for the better, and this is an art one needs to master.
What would you advise the young generation on how they could keep themselves mentally fit?
Increasingly, mental dexterity and complexities are increasing because of the information overflow we see all around. To me, the young generations need to start by accepting that this is the normal, the new normal!
They need to be kind to themselves and give their feelings more space and time to mature, but always take positive action, and not let emotion take over.
The other aspect is to keep fit, eat well and rest well. As I said earlier, a fit body is an enabler to a fit mind.
I also encourage them to develop real networks where they can talk about their emotions and give and receive feedback on different aspects of their lives.
Last, but not the least, they should build hobbies and pick up reading. Open themselves to new ideas and thoughts. And stay positive through the times, good or bad.
Finally, stay humble as that state of mind will always help!
The quote was published in Economic Times in June 2023.
The opinions expressed are author's own. Fidelity International is not responsible for the author's opinions.