This past weekend, I participated in my last Ironman race of the year. It's been a great year. I was fortunate to compete in the world championships to start the year and had a solid finish. I then built upon that with a top 100 finish at Ironman Alaska. And just this past weekend, I achieved a new personal record at Ironman Indiana. By all accounts it was a great year and improved my overall world ranking over last year.
But, with every race there are great lessons to learn that apply not only to racing, but life and business as well.
I missed qualifying for the World Championships at Indiana by 4 minutes! 4 minutes! If had pushed a little faster on the bike or the run, I would have qualified. I know I set a new personal record for time, but 4 minutes faster is definitely achievable.
Make no mistake, I am very proud and grateful for how well the race went for me, but as I do with every race, I look back and rip it apart to see where I could have done better.
In this case, I found a number of things, but there are 3 lessons that can apply to life and business.
Lesson #1: The Little Things Matter
In a race like Ironman when 4 minutes can be the difference between a qualifying slot for the World Championship and being on the bubble, every little things counts. A faster set of transitions between the disciplines can be a few minutes. A 10 second per mile faster pace on the run can give you all you need. Every little thing you do from your ensuring a consistent strong swim stroke to keeping a steady effort on the bike or a solid pace on the run that doesn't falter can be the difference between you being at Worlds and not. It is the same in life and business. The little things matter. If we don't take care of the little things in business, especially the ones we know we need to do, but don't want make a huge difference. They can be difference between a growing, thriving business and one that stagnates. In life, the little things are just as important. Not apologizing for something you know shouldn't have done or said, can sour a relationship. Not being attentive to the little things in your household can grow into larger problems. The little things matter so don't neglect or procrastinate on them.
Lesson #2: You Can Always Push Further
As I looked back on the race, I saw a few key areas I could have gained my 4 minutes. First, I had my best run time in a race ever, but I know I could have pushed to be 10 -15 seconds per mile faster. Second, I could have had faster transitions between the disciplined changing out of my westsuit and into my bike gear and then from bike gear to run gear. I know what I need to do to improve there. Third, I know I can improve my training so my fitness is even better making it easier to succeed. I realized this once I stepped back and looked at things from the outside. We can always push further and get better in life and business, but the best way to do it is to take a step back and get out of the day to day and look at things from the outside.
Lesson #3: Enjoy the Win, No Matter How Big or Small It is
Initially, after just missing the cut for worlds, I beat myself up a little bit. Really Dave, 4 minutes??? But, I also had my overall finish and race time ever. I made big jumps in improvement each race I've done and I improved my overall ranking to be top 5% in the world. That needs to be celebrated! So, I stopped beating up on myself, gave myself a pat on the back and now I'm back to work and working harder to ensure I make it next time. We must do the same in our lives and business. We should celebrate the wins no matter what size they are and use them as stepping stones to the next level. By all means, have your 5 minute funeral if needed, to get over it, but don't lose site of the good things, lessons to be learned, and improvements that can be made to get even better. Take the time to celebrate the wins and then get back to work!
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