Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"RUNNING" a business

Sunday I ran the Vermont 50 mile Ultra.  I was only 15 miles into it and as usual, I had gone out too fast and I was already paying for it. Thinking about running another 35 miles feeling the way I did was not a pleasant thought. I started thinking about quitting. My legs hurt so badly already.  It was at that point that I started to remember why I do these races. They are not easy, and I'm glad. If they were easy then what I was doing wouldn't be special. There would be no feeling of accomplishment when it was done.  My mindset changed to figuring out what I needed to do to accomplish my goal of finishing in under 8 hours. I concentrating on fixing myself. I've been in this situation before and knew I could come out of it ok.  I just simply had to keep going.  Nothing was really wrong, I just hurt.  I knew that hurting is a function of your mind trying to get you to stop because it senses the beginning of damage.  I knew that the body is much stronger than the mind.  I had to change my attitude.

I looked at my watch and I was still on 7 1/2 hour pace.  I could afford to slow down a bit and still be able to hit my goal.  I really got into my head and try to figure out why I was in a slump.  I realized that I was still going just fine, but I had been a little demoralized by being passed by a couple people that I expected to beat.  I was beginning to forget my mantra for these races.  Run  your own race.  Don't worry about anybody else, just have a plan and work it. I was still on my plan and just feeling sore.  Nothing to give up over. 

As I felt like shit I started to realize how much what I was going through was like owning and running a business. You don't always feel good. Sometimes you are so overwhelmed you want to quit. It is those exact moments that define your business and you as a leader.  You have to run your own race and stay focused.  If you spend time only worrying about your competitors you will lose sight of your game plan. 

To run Ultras I've had to learn what to eat and drink, when to eat and drink, how to prepare, how much salt to take, what shoes to wear, what clothes to wear and much more.  I learned all this by making mistakes and adjusting.  I practiced and learned. 

Building National Powersports, I realized, was exactly the same thing.  I often talk about making mistakes in the business and how they are learning experiences.  Its ok to make a mistake, as long as you figure out why it happened and then put a process in place to make sure it never happens again.  Then the next time you make a new mistake you repeat the process.

I thought about how there is a pattern to getting what I want out of life.  For me it always involves the same ingredients.  First I have to have a burning passion to accomplish a clear goal.  Saying to myself that "I want to run an Ultra" or "I want to own a business" is motivating, but it is much more powerful to say "I want to run an off road 50 mile race in under 8 hours" or "I want to build a business that does 10 million in sales within 10 years at a 20 percent profit margin".   The clearer the goal, the easier it is to get it.  I wanted to finish this race in under 8 hours.  It doesn't get much clearer than that.  I concentrated on what type of pace I needed and refocused on thinking about how I could do it.

At the finish!
In the end I ended up finishing in 8 hours and 9 minutes in 23rd place.  Although I didn't achieve my exact goal, I am most proud of the fact that I kept going.  I didn't quit.  I worked hard to get through the tough parts.   During those tough parts I asked myself why was I doing this?  Now three days later I know why.  I'm reinvigorated for the next challange. 


Ron Abramson said...

EXCELLENT post. Really. That's all.

Aliza Lapierre said...

I like how you drew parallels between work and play, I haven't ever really looked at it that way. As always so nice running with you and hopefully we can connect soon for a training adventure.