What the Ironman Taught Me About Business

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What the Ironman Taught Me About Business

If you ever want to push your body and your mind to the limit, then train and run a full Ironman Triathlon. That’s 2.4-mile swim, then a 112-mile bike, and finally a 26.2-mile run. Needless to say, it takes preparation and the mental stamina to push through even when things go wrong. I trained for 10 months for this race and 4 weeks before the race, I injured my knee. The emotional and physical ups and downs of training were more than enough, but they prepared me well for the unexpected challenges that would arise on race day.

Here are the 3 business lessons completing my first full triathlon taught me.

  1. Things don’t usually go as planned. The days leading up to the race, the area where we would be swimming became flooded and the bacteria levels were too high for us to safely swim in the Tennessee River. So, rather than doing the 2.4-mile swim (like I had trained for), the race was inevitably cut short. And, just in business, having a contingency plan (for everything you do) is a must. No matter how much you plan or prepare, you have to be agile enough to work around last-minute changes, big and small. Simply put… we can’t control everything, but we can control how prepared we are. So, always have a Plan B, that is ready to go, just in case.

  2. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. About halfway through the bike portion of the race, my chain broke. I was already not the fastest participant, so I couldn’t afford to lose time to try to fix the bike chain myself, without missing the time cut off. I had to wait almost 30 minutes to get help, but had I not asked for help, I would not have been able to continue the race. In business, when you have help you can always achieve more than if you do it on your own. Have teams in place to help you, to take some of the work off of you, and more importantly, have teams that can add to your creativity, productivity, and efficiency.

  3. Pay attention to every detail. I had to learn this the hard way, right at the end of my 26.2-mile run. I was making amazing time and I was feeling physically great. It wasn’t until I stopped at a water station that I noticed a group of runners coming up the hill. I had missed an entire portion of the running race, and now, with less than 90 minutes left for me to finish, I had to sprint the last 9 miles (mostly uphill) to catch up. I had not listened carefully to the race directions and had assumed that I could just follow the pack in front of me to get through the running course. But, boy was I so wrong. I missed the small (yet very important detail) and almost ruined my chances of finishing the race I had trained so hard for. In your business, no detail is too small. If you start to notice recurring issues, don’t ignore them. Never assume you know everything, keep learning, stay on top of what your competition is doing, and always track your progress.
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