Four Business (and Life) Lessons from IRONMAN®

Blog | Other Observations | Business Strategy | Management Mindset

Two years ago, I decided to take on a new challenge. I was quickly approaching 40 years of age and I felt like I needed to do something to re-capture the spirit of my athletic youth.

Can you have a mid-life crisis when you are 40? I’m not sure, I thought that I would be older when that happened, but I felt the strong desire to do something different.

I was in an obstacle course race with a few of my college buddies and my friend John said, “You should do IRONMAN.”

I laughed out loud. “You must be crazy.” Running around in the mud for 12 miles with your friends is one thing, but swimming, biking and running 140 miles seemed impossible.

However, something clicked. The next day, I made a decision. I would compete in an IRONMAN.

I knew I wouldn’t be ready for the 2014 races. At the time, I didn’t even have a bike. I wasn’t much of a swimmer and I wasn’t the strongest runner. But, I had made up my mind and decided to enter the 2015 race.

Long story short, over the next two years, I trained for triathlons. My journey culminated when I raced in IRONMAN Wisconsin in September of 2015.

I took away four important lessons from this journey that I regularly apply to my business and I hope these insights will help you too. (Without having to do an IRONMAN)

Perseverance Breeds Resilience 

If you want to meet a tough goal, you have to develop resilience.

Over two years, I trained for triathlons about six days a week. Many days, I trained twice a day. I trained when it was hot or cold when it was raining or snowing. I once road my bike for six hours in 100-degree heat and it actually started hailing. (Only in Wisconsin does it hail when it’s 100 degrees).

I broke my arm (twice). I cracked three ribs. I broke my thumb and separated my shoulder. On a regular basis, I fought lower back issues that made it hard to get out of bed.

These setbacks were painful. . . literally. Pushing through them took perseverance. The result was resilience. You don’t get resilient unless you push through painful setbacks. You don’t get painful setbacks unless you push your limits and try something you’ve never dared before.

When I look back on my professional career, I recognize that it was the hardest challenges that contributed most to my current success. Without the challenges, I would not have had setbacks. Without setbacks, I would not have had to persevere. Without perseverance, I would not have become resilient.

If you aren’t creating an environment in your business, where you struggle and occasionally fail, you’ll never develop resilience. Without resilience,  you’ll never push through the mundane and achieve the goals that you truly dream of.four lessons

Planning Equals Results

If you want to do achieve a new goal, you’ll achieve it faster and with better results if you have a plan.

When I started training for triathlons, I had no idea where to start. So I started reading a couple blogs and downloaded a 12 week training calendar. The calendar laid out exactly what I should do every day for 12 weeks.

I still have that calendar. It started out really slow and easy. 12 minute swims, 24 minute bike rides and 12 minute runs 5-6 days a week.

I printed the calendar and hung it on my wall. Everyday, I wrote down my results on this calendar and went on to track every workout, every day for the next two years.

Jerry Seinfeld would call this the “don’t break the chain method.” Jerry would hang up a wall calendar and put a big red X every day he spent writing new jokes. When you have a visual like this in front of you every day, you don’t want to “break the chain”.

You can employ this tactic to keep you on track with just about any business or personal goal.

  • Set a goal.
  • Write out a clear, measurable objective for the goal.
  • Set aside time every day to work towards the goal.
  • Track your efforts working towards the goal.
  • Don’t break the chain.

It’s simple and it works.

Experts Accelerate Results

Now, working towards my goals by myself only got me so far. Halfway through my training, I realized I needed expert help. I had started to plateau. Mentally, physically and emotionally, I needed support to take things to the next level.

That’s when I hired a coach. My coach, Heather, worked with me to establish my goals. She created a plan and helped me stay accountable towards this plan every day with one-on-one coaching and feedback.

Heather had been down this road before. She was a world class professional triathlete. She has trained hundreds of other athletes and helped them reach their goals.

Unlike me, Heather knew what the journey to IRONMAN looked liked and could provide insight, advice and support as I worked through the process.

This is a lesson you can apply to your professional life as well. If you want to accelerate your business performance and get better results, work with someone who has already done what you hope to do.

Consistency Creates High Performance

If you want to have a breakthrough in performance, you have to be consistent.

The difference between good and great comes down to consistency over time. It’s a simple equation. I trained for triathlons almost every day for two years and there were many, many days when I did not want to train or I didn’t want to put in the amount of training that I was supposed to.

However, I did stay consistent, because I had a written plan and professional support. I stayed on target, day in and day out.

How consistent are you when it comes to working towards your goals?

  • Have you written your goals down? Do you have a plan to achieve them?
  • Have you set benchmarks to ensure you stay on track?
  • Do you work towards your goals every day, regardless of the circumstances?
  • Do you set aside time every day to focus on your goals or do you put the urgent, before the important and focus on your real goals as time permits?
  • Do you have someone to help hold you accountable and keep you moving forward?

Now, I’d like to be a faster triathlete, but as my coach, as explained, I would have to consistently train for even longer.

World class athletes train for many, many years.  They don’t get great over night.

The same is true in business. You have to put in the time and put in the work if you want to achieve get real success.  More so, you have to focus on the right strategies and tactics if you want to grow a successful business. As Vince Lombardi said, ” Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

Don’t be fooled by the “get rich quick” marketing schemes flooding your email inbox. The only one getting rich off a get rich quick scheme is the person selling it to you.

Apply these Lessons and Win

By applying these four lessons in my training, I transformed from an out of shape 38-year-old to a 40-year-old All World IRONMAN Athlete®.

By applying these lessons in your business, you can achieve your goals and dreams.

I know this because it has worked for me personally and professionally.

Plus, I’ve worked with hundreds of successful business owners who have achieved success following these rules. You can too.

Would you like my help in achieving your business goals? To schedule a complimentary one-on-one strategy session, just click here. 


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