I’m on a high from the sprint distance triathlon I just completed, my first ever. During one of my workouts before the tri, I realized how many parallels there are between running a business and successfully completing a tri. For instance:
Set Goals. I had 5 goals for the tri: 1) Finish. 2) Get up the steep mile-long hill on the bike route without walking. 3) No walking on the run portion. 4) Remember to take off my bike helmet before starting the run. 5) Smile for the camera at the finish line! I accomplished every one of them but, as with business, it wouldn’t have happened unless I knew specifically what I wanted.
Plan Ahead. Like anything in life, setting goals is only the beginning. Figuring out how you’re going to get from here to there — what “training” is required — always needs to be the next step of the process.
Make Forward Progress Every Day. Having a plan doesn’t help much unless you follow it. And life always interferes; it’s virtually impossible to follow the plan to the letter every day. Yet unless you keep your eye on where you want to go and regularly take steps to get there, long-term goals remain elusive.
Rely on Teamwork. Know what you’re good at and when to call in other people. While I knew I could do the ½ mile swim, the thought of jostling my way through the water with 2,700 other women wasn’t my idea of fun. My cousin Sue and I did the tri as a relay team, with her swimming and me doing the bike and run.
Bet on the Right People. Since my old bike was 30+ years old, I treated myself to a new one in advance of the tri. I avoided my normal inclination to research the purchase to death, and instead made my purchase based on the advice of the experts I trusted – the owners of my nearby bike shop who have saved me more time and money than I can count.
Use Technology Appropriately. A heart rate monitor was an invaluable tool to keeping me on track and helping me meet my goals. I now find it hard to exercise without it. But, like anything, it’s smart to avoid technology simply for technology’s sake. My trusty bike shop wisely recommended that I avoid buying a bike computer until I got used to the new bike – and then
not to get one with so many bells and whistles that it’s more confusing than helpful.
Take Time Out. Early in my training, I tried to compensate for workouts I knew my traveling schedule would force me to miss by training far too many days in a row in advance of my travels. I couldn’t sustain the pace, and ended up losing even more time as a result. Likewise, in business, some time away from the day-to-day workload helps you work harder and more creatively when you return.
Tune Out the Competition. Being among the oldest of 2,700 race participants, there were plenty of people passing me on the route. If I focused on that, it would simply distract me from what I needed to do. I stayed fixed on my goals, and finished far, far ahead of where I hoped. And as is generally true with business – there’s plenty of room for everyone at the finish line.