What I’ve Learned About Business by Running Marathons
In April 2016 I ran my very first Boston Marathon, and though it was hot, humid and I had a stiff neck, I ran and walked, with a big fat smile on my face, all the way to the finish. However, it wasn’t long ago that around mile 20, it would seem I hit quicksand and my legs were sinking. When complete exhaustion hit me, even my favorite song annoyed the hell out of me. There would come a point when my brain would tell my body to move faster, but the body would simply respond with a wicked cramp. In short, I’d hit the proverbial wall and question my own sanity.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve had my moments of despair also. I trained my first employee only to have her quit because she found love and moved across the country. I also put in countless hours preparing proposals, only to learn that the business went to a big company that doesn’t do what we do. And what causes cramps in business? The moment when you lose your biggest client, or you see your ideas executed by the company you pitched them to.
As I’ve worked through the years on my running and my business, here’s what I’ve learned about preparing, pushing hard, and getting better.
Write Yourself a Reality Check
As with marathon running, in business, most of our time is invested in preparation. If you don’t train or prepare, you’re going to suffer. It’s just a matter of how much pain you can withstand before you start walking, crawling, and eventually stop. Without the right preparation, you may not even finish the race.
Think about it; the best stories in business or marathon running are told by those who got to the finish line and collected their medal. No matter how fast or slow, they got there. Everyone else went home in pain, beat up, and without the bling. In business, you go home broke too.
Schedule Your Plan
No matter which you’re preparing for, make a plan or schedule. DO THE WORK. Should you become distracted, carry over the work you missed and make it up during the rest of the week — just make sure it gets done. If you travel, or during holidays, schedule training/work-time. You’ll feel good that work is getting done, and you’ll appreciate downtime that much more.
Surround Yourself With Others Like You
My first few marathons led to triathlons, and during a training bike ride on Mother’s Day no less, I was sideswiped by a car full of teenagers. After two years of therapy (physical, in case you were wondering) and five years of uninspiring attempts to get back to running, I finally found my stride and commitment through a running club in my neighborhood.
In business, I’m part of an Advisory Board made up exclusively of entrepreneurs, and I’m part of a social media club (mostly made up of business owners). Being surrounded by others who are striving to reach their goals is inspiring. They understand what you’re going through and can hold you accountable, cheer you on and motivate you to push harder — in business, and while conquering the miles.
Who Moved The Finish Line?
Some argue that unlike a marathon, business doesn’t have a finish line. That isn’t true if you think of it in terms of benchmarks. As part of your initial startup plan, you established the BIG semi annual or yearly goal. When you meet that goal, you have in essence reached your finish line. Your business won’t give you bling, but with the profits you generate, you can buy your own.
Last But Definitely Not Least
You’ve got to have fun running or running a business. If not, your clients will see right through you, your business will suffer (your running too), and you’re likely to end up flat on your face. When you love what you do, it won’t feel like work, it will feel like that mythical high most runners talk about. (Psst! it’s real.)
Remember, plan your route, do the work, surround yourself with others like you, and if you don’t love it, don’t do it. Also, it’s not the quest to achieve one perfect goal that makes you better, it’s the skills you develop from doing a multitude of repetitions. Above all, remember to have fun.
What insights about life or business have you gained from running?