DRIVING to discover new limits: Lessons an ultramarathoner applies to work Consulting is like running, you have to break projects into smaller pieces. Because thinking about running 100 miles at once is intimidating.

We recently introduced you to the Hyland Global Services’ project methodology. It’s all about how we can foster the best interaction, collaboration, and success with our customers by utilizing the five pillars of our DRIVE methodology:

  • Dedicated
  • Results oriented
  • Intentional
  • Virtually focused
  • Established

These are important words to us. In fact, many of our employees have internalized them — they’re dedicated, results oriented, and intentional.

Dreama Walton is a perfect example.

Walton is a lot of things. At Hyland, she’s an IT solution consultant for global healthcare services. In that role, she helps healthcare providers realize the full potential of their technology investments, so they can focus on providing the best patient experience possible.

Outside of work, she’s a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a veteran of the United States Air Force (USAF). She’s also a trail and mountain ultramarathon runner. But at the core, Walton is an extremely motivated person who strives to do extraordinary things in both her personal and professional lives.

Like running 100 miles. Without stopping. But we’ll get to that later.

Overcoming early adversity

Shaping this motivation was her ability to overcome adversity early in life. Growing up, Walton had to help care for her younger sister, who had Spina Bifida. Many times, it was just the two of them for up to eight hours a day.

Then, when she was a teenager, her sister was sent to a foster home. Walton was devastated.

With more free time suddenly on her hands, she decided that sports would be a good way to keep busy.

“I wanted to play a sport, but since I was starting at 16, I didn’t have a chance to walk onto any of the ball-sport teams,” said Walton. “The girls on those teams had already been playing for many years. I was awkward and didn’t know what to do, so I joined the track team.”

That started her love for the sport.

“In the beginning, I would get lapped,” she said. “I remember running my first 3200, and all the girls lapped me, so I ran the final lap alone. But the cheers from my teammates and the crowd in the stands were so loud and supportive that it made me feel good.”

The comradery of the sport gave Walton a sense of feeling that she belonged. Which was important, because at this point, her father and stepmother had moved 2,000 miles away.

“I was sometimes the last person running in workouts or races, but I didn’t stop trying. By the end of the first season, I had improved significantly,” said Walton. “I contribute a huge portion of my success to the parents of friends who showed an interest in me. If it weren’t for them recognizing I didn’t have anyone supporting me and then taking me into their homes, giving me rides, talking to me, I may not have realized my true potential.”

After high school, not knowing how she would pay for college, Walton joined the USAF. In 2003, she deployed to Iraq and worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority Governance and Human Rights Office, then moved to South Korea and worked as support staff for the Air Base Wing Commander. Sadly, a few years later, her sister passed.

Running 100 miles — for fun

Running has taken Walton all over the world. She’s run races in Athens, Paris, the Canary Islands, Lake Tahoe, and everywhere in between — completing as many as 35 ultramarathons. Currently, she’s training to run the Western States 100 race on June 26-27. It’s the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race and one of the most prestigious.

For most people, the goal would be to finish. Intact.

For Walton, the goal is to finish in the top 10.

When running, I think about my sister and how being able to do what I do is a gift. I think about while she was alive, how I physically carried her from room to room. Now, I feel like I still carry her with me, just in a different way.

As you might imagine, while running 100 miles, you have a lot of time to think. You also have to deal with a lot of adversity.

“One of the biggest tools I’ve developed while running ultras is the ability to troubleshoot the many situations that arise like muscle cramps, nausea, blisters, dehydration, and any kind of accident,” she said. “That includes the weather, which can change quickly in the mountains.”

DRIVING it home for Hyland customers

Walton puts those intuitive skills to work for her every day in her role as a solution consultant.

“The correlation between running long distances and my job is the ability to troubleshoot and breakdown issues piece by piece — to look at them in a calm, controlled manner,” said Walton. “Sometimes, consulting is like running. You don’t want to think about all 100 miles at once, that can be intimidating. You need to set smaller goals that you can accomplish and celebrate, then move on to the next stages. The same goes for when I’m helping a healthcare provider implement enterprise imaging, for example.”

As Walton says, flow state doesn’t always happen, but it’s all about your preparation for success — both physical and mental. Training, nutrition, and hydration are necessary for success in races. For IT projects, that equates to due diligence. Knowing how all the parts fit together in the big picture is what leads to customer success.

Inspiring those around us

Achieving her goal of finishing the Western States 100 in the top 10 would be a huge moment in Walton’s running career — one that would be the realization of many years of training. She’s no stranger to overcoming adversity and is an amazing reminder of the remarkable things we can all do when we set our minds to it.

We can all gain inspiration from other perspectives, whether we are training for an athletic pursuit or trying to reach a personal growth goal in our professional lives. Our stories connect us. They help share aspects about our lives that have shaped us to be who we are, hopefully inspiring those around us.

“In running, the reward is in the training and the race is just a way to celebrate all the work,” said Walton. “We are all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for and we all have it in us to push ourselves to discover new limits.”

Cara McFarlane

Cara McFarlane is Hyland’s sales enablement solution marketing manager. Her mission is to effectively position Hyland as the leading content services platform within financial services, insurance, government, higher education, and... read more about: Cara McFarlane

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.