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Marathon Management Strategy
We have seen practically that a well-organized marathon is created before the marathon starts. A marathon that is organized during the marathon is a badly managed marathon. To organize a marathon means to create the parties properly, to inform all the devotees well in advance that there will be a marathon and that they are involved, to pick out the places where everyone will go, to give them vans in proper running order, to give them a stock of books and supplies and arrange to replenish them from various points, and to collect the scores and the laksml. All these things must be organized before the marathon starts. Otherwise there will be confusion, and nothing is worse than confusion to make a marathon a real flop.
The most important item is getting everyone out. One keeps back only those few souls absolutely required to run the Deity services and preaches to them that their austerity is to work like five or ten devotees and thereby allow the others to go out. Now, devotees who are not usually on marathons sometimes feel shy or scared to go out. The thought of meeting people on the street sometimes scares them to death, and they would rather do anything else than go out. Of course, this is due to the ignorant condition of the mind alone, for when those devotees go out, eighty percent of the time they become completely ecstatic within a tew days. But the manager has to make their conversion into sankirtana devotees as painless as possible. So, he starts preparing the devotees at least a month in advance by dropping statements in class and elsewhere, like"Isn't it wonderful that the marathon will begin next month? Everyone will be going out, you know." Also, one has to make a list that mentions exactly who is going out, and one has to post it clearly at least two weeks in advance for all to see. Giving the devotees clear information about what is going to happen is the best way to keep devotees enthuastic and satistied. The worst thing is to spring something on devotees in the morning announcements and expect them all to surrender This is the stupidest kind of management there is. and anyone who does that deserves the chaos that follows. Every devotee has plans for what he will do on a given day, and sometimes his plans were made weeks in advance. If the temple president says, "Now we are all going to do this today," and gives no one a chance to explain why that is impossible, then he is a fool number one, without any respect for people. A clever manager will plan everything out a week in advance and post the activities of the next week (starting from Monday) on the bulletin board the previous Wednesday so that all devotees can plan accordingly how they will surrender.
A marathon is a perfect example of that. Warn them nicely, prepare them nicely, and help them to surrender. Sometimes make funny comments as if you were also a little worried about having to go out and face people on the street, and in this way they loosen up a bit. The more marathon information that is posted on the board as soon as it is ready, the better the marathon is. Suppose you are organizing a van or whatever that some non-marathon party is using beforehand for something else. The best thing is to have a meeting with all the parties and leaders involved three weeks before the marathon and work out all details as to members, vehicles, and supplies. This should be posted for all to see. The effect of this is that everyone gets the point: "The marathon is serious, the managers are already planning it, and I cannot escape." Another point is that in case there is some objection to the plan, or some sharp soul sees some tault, it can be corrected before everyone goes out. Getting the battle plan perfect before going into battle is the best policy, because lives depend on it. Write down all the duties of those who stay back, create a temporary authority to run the minimal affairs left to run, create a backup for that temporary authority in case he falls into maya alone in the temple, and teach them exactly what they have to do. Post this. Let everyone know who is in charge of what during the marathon and who they should go to and what they should expect from those persons and what they should not expect (such as a lot of money for anything). Order II required supplies far in advance Have a supply in srork before departure and also have a mid-marathon refill if required. Have stocks of books, food, and supplies waiting at depots around the country and distribute like mad. If you organize everything like this, then there is absolutely no need for the temple managers to remain behind during a marathon. In fact, it is maya if the temple managers remain behind. The temple managers should beat everyone else in the marathon, then everyone will understand their superior spiritual potency.
Prabhupada said that the best manager is the best preacher. He who is the most potent devotee is best suited to leading others. He can never tolerate sitting around watching the walls as the others are out getting the bliss. It is simply a question of proper management before the marathon. If this is done, there are no problems. But there may be something from the karml world that requires the manager to be reached by the temporary authorities. Therefore each manager should always be accessible by telephone or a beeper in emergencies. But the normal appointments should be put off until after the marathon. Usually there is little that cannot be put off to some other date by a phone call.