Valuable Business Lessons Learned From Competing In My First Triathlon – Repost from 2010
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
In 1988, a book with a surprising and simple theme hit the bestsellers list. “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum, claimed to wrap life’s most important lessons into one impactful year of teachable moments – Age 5-6. Upon hearing the title and all of the buzz surrounding the book, I can recall three things that stumped me:
1- That all we really needed were a few life lessons to make this sometimes overwhelming journey of life play out; 2- That we could learn all of them by age 6; and, 3- That someone was smart enough to capitalize on this concept and make big bucks.
Nevermind that I didn’t swim, bike, or run as my fitness regimen of choice before January of 2010. I was “in shape” and had participated in some type of fitness ritual for many years, primarily consisting of weight training, with a little bit of cardio sprinkled in just to get my heart rate going.
This could be likened to what our clients at PERFORMANCEPOINTE, inc. do when they are transitioning careers or launching a business in an area in which they have no prior knowledge. Like them, I was determined. Other life events over the past few years left something for me to prove. It was a lofty goal, and I was on a mission to claim my place in the world of new unprecedented challenges – triathlon participation happened to be the lucky winner.
LESSON NUMBER ONE
When you are earnestly seeking, what you need will find you. In thinking about age 50 coming just around the bend, I started to compile my pre-50 “bucket list” of things I wanted to accomplish. A half marathon, perhaps? A few people came into my life, sort of like the perfect storm, who had participated in Triathlons. This spurred me to consider if they could do it, then so could I. I set my goal for my first competition and they helped stoke the fire inside of me. One of them even put my training plans together each week and was my biggest encourager throughout the process.
Be purposeful and intentional about your career and business goals, claim them, and don’t be surprised at what comes to you.
LESSON NUMBER TWO
Tap the experts. Remember, the important details? I didn’t swim, bike or run prior to this time. A friend helped me shop for bikes. And the running, well I thought I could pull that one off on my own. However, I learned many valuable lessons about running that I incorporated into my technique from the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. (This book was recommended to me four months prior to the event by someone who just happened to be sitting next to me on the airplane during a business trip – See Lesson Number One.)
Let go and admit you need help – hire the people who can help you reach your goals.
LESSON NUMBER THREE
Be true to the Process and it will be true to you.
Sticking to the training plans prepared for me, participating in the pre-race simulations offered at the race site a few weeks prior to the race and taking care of myself nutritionally and physically reinforced the rationale for a process. As a maverick at heart – probably the entrepreneur in me – there were times when I thought I knew best, but I had to give that up and trust the process provided from those who had traveled this road before.
Being true to a proven process in your career search and business gives you a distinct advantage over everyone else who doesn’t.
LESSON NUMBER FOUR
Mental Preparation Triumphs. The week before the race is known as tapering. You taper your physical exertion training and trade your physical training hat for your mental training hat. I purposefully left lots of extra margin time in my schedule from work, just to give myself the total big break before the big day. The down time sounds like a nice reprieve, but it actually left idle time to let my mind wander AND wonder, “Can I really do this?” “Am I kidding myself?” Fear began to offset desire.
Fortunately I caught myself and knew I had to get myself back on track. How did I do it? I let others remind me that I had done the work. I reprogrammed myself to recall that I was physically ready. I read articles about mental preparation. I took the Sharpie Marker and wrote positive messages on my bathroom mirror. I focused on thankfulness and having fun.
Keeping your mental game and confidence together can be just as important as any other aspect of reaching your career and business goals.
LESSON NUMBER FIVE
Setbacks Happen – Meet them Head On. My biggest surprise of the day came when I was when I dismounting my bike and running to my transition area for my run. Bike shoes can be a little slippery especially when walking on loose gravel. In my haste, I lost my traction and slipped. After picking myself, my ego and my bike off the gravel, I couldn’t help but notice I had cut a vein on my lower right leg that was squirting blood. Not dripping, squirting. My shoe tongue was soaked and the mere sight forced some nausea within me. Too much information?
With adrenaline racing, I had to decide how to handle this. I was getting ready to head into the last leg of the race and my strongest area – running. Should I seek medical attention? Quit if I couldn’t stop the bleeding? In a panic, my mind flashed back to 7th grade first aid training in health class. A tourniquet! I wrapped my leg tightly in a towel and got the squirting reduced to a drip, then headed off on the running trail to finish the run and the race within a respectable time for a novice.
Even when we are fully prepared and have done everything we’re supposed to do, unexpected setbacks can happen in our careers and businesses. What we do with them to keep moving ahead is what matters.
Since this momentous occasion for me, I have often considered how these lessons apply to where we are at any given moment in our quest for the next career or the next stage of growth in our businesses. Which lessons resonate with you? How do they apply to where you are right now? Call on us to take you to that place where performance and excellence meet for you as a leader in your career and business. firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog was originally posted September 22, 2010.