This past weekend, I competed in the Ironman World Championships fulfilling a goal I made almost 4 years ago. It was a grueling race on the toughest course on the circuit. As with any race, there are challenges in the moment that must figured out and overcome.
I was a great race overall and the memories will last forever, but I learned some very important lessons that can be used for all areas of life.
Prepare for Adversity
One thing I have learned in racing Ironman for many years is that no matter what, you will face unexpected adversity on the course. You will have to overcome and adjust to it "on the fly." You will not know where it will come from or what it will be until it happens. For example, I was having a very solid race at the World Championships. I had my best swim time ever and put in a really solid bike time on the hardest bike course on the circuit. I nailed my pace on the first half of the marathon. At mile 14, my hamstring started to give me some trouble and I slowed down and walked a little bit. This was also the time of day where the sun was the hottest - 95 degrees in the desert. Seemingly out of nowhere, I was hit with severe de-hydration even though I felt I had hydrated myself better in this race than any other I had ever done. I had to walk most of the back half of the marathon and even had to sit down for a little while to keep my head from spinning. I had prepared myself ahead of time for something like this to happen and to be ready for it. I didn't know if it would happen or what it would be, but mentally, I was ready for it and when it hit, I was able to say, "Ok, we prepared for this. Now, we have to work through it and keep going." Which is what I did to finish.
This type of mentality relates very well to business and entrepreneurship. You must be prepared for adversity and ready to manage it because you don't know where and when it will come. I thought I was going to keep my pace and cruise to a great finish and within about 20 mins, it changed. In business, it could be anything. The loss of a key employee or client. A legal issue. A product flaw that nobody saw. All kinds of things can happen. If you are prepared and ready, you can manage them and get through to success.
Plan Your Race from Beginning to End
One of the things I have gotten better at over the years is taking a lot of time to plan every aspect of my race. I visualize every aspect of the race I can from the time standing in the starting coral, to my transitions, to the different areas of the course itself. I make mental notes and prepare. I plan my nutrition out almost to the exact times I need to take it, etc. In doing this, I can remove most surprises during a race and methodically work my plan as I go. This is how I can finish and do well. Over 3000 people started the race in the World Championship and only about 2200 finished. Some of them had trouble because they didn't plan well enough and were not prepared.
It's the same in business and entrepreneurship. You can never plan for everyting because things just happen- adversity happens. But the more you can plan and prepare, the better chance you have at finishing the race or reaching your goal. Take time each week to think through your business and plan for your success.
You Win in Your Mind
At mile 20 of the marathon, I was at my worse for de-hydration. I could not sweat anymore. Every fluid I tried to take in, came back up. My head was spinning. I had to sit on the side of the road and let myself cool down. I wanted to quit. I did not want to go further. I watched top athletes around me quitting one after another. It was at this time that I had overcome these urges in my mind. I had to will myself to keep going. I had to convince myself that I had more left. With only a few miles to go, I knew it was physically possibly to finish. I had to work through this internal conversation and get my mind to believe. I worked through it and was able to get it up and get going by telling myself, "Just one more step. I'll take one more step." And with one foot in front of the other, I finished.
I've always said that you win in your mind - in just about everything. And sometimes, you have to overcome your mind's limitations. You have to prove to it that it is wrong. This takes sheer will and guts. You will have to do this time and time again in business and entrepreneurship. You are only down and out if you let yourself be down and out. Only you can quit. And people typically quit in their mind before anywhere else. Do the work to develop your mind to overcome the hardest challenges. Be prepared to force you mind to overcome its limitations. If you do this, you will find you are capable of so much more in your life and can keep growing to new levels.
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