Yesterday, after a year of intense training, my husband completed the Iron Man event in Port Elizabeth in a respectable time of 13 hours and 30 minutes. Having witnessed the training required and then sitting on the side of the road on race day got me thinking of the business journey and I thought I would draw some parallels between athletes and business people.
• For every great achievement there is always a big price to pay. No great success comes easily and watching the athletes go past, it is so easy to feel envious of their natural talent but the discipline and hard work needed is what separates athletes from spectators. I meet so many aspirant entrepreneurs who look at those who are successful and I hear them wishing for greatness. Business success takes time, hard work and discipline too.
• On the Iron Man route, there were large patches where there were no spectators and fans. This is where the athletes had to dig deep and focus on being tenacious. Business is not really a spectator sport. Most of the hard work happens behind the scenes and there is not a lot of glamour. It is largely a daily relentless focus on doing the work.
• The athletes needed to train, often early in the morning and into the night. I think there is a parallel to business. There is relevance to the saying – “It is what happens after working hours that will make or break your career”. Successful business people will always put in extra efforts, understanding that being extraordinary always takes the little extra.
• The athletes love the struggle and they embrace the work it takes, finding joy in the process and in the journey. They are passionate about their sport. If you speak to successful business people, you will see that they embrace the struggle of hard work, they have passion and they love what they do.
• These athletes pace themselves, knowing when to expend and conserve energy. One thing successful business people know is that business is a marathon and not a sprint. Success in the long term requires oodles of energy and stamina, and time and energy management are critical ingredients for success in both business and sport.
• Athletes understand the importance of mind-set. They are positive, have a healthy does of self-belief, set stretch goals and always strive to reach higher goals, once they have achieved their personal best. Successful people in business share these qualities.
• Most top athletes understand that the competition is not between themselves and others but rather within themselves. Their comparison is with themselves and their goals is to improve. Business people who are too focused on their competition are often missing the point. In business, as in sport, the goal needs to be continuous improvement.
So, in the business race, are you an Iron Man?