What competing in a half marathon reminded me about achieving success
I have just completed a half marathon – yay! I never thought I’d be able to do it and to be fair there was a lot more ‘fast walking’ than running, so I’ve still got a way to go to achieve my original goal, but today has been one big step towards it.
Throughout the 21.097km, you have a lot of time to think and I started thinking about how I got there and what it had taken to get me there…. And it struck me that there were a lot of synergies between this and achieving business success.
It started with a vision, I set some goals and then I’ve been executing some strategies and tactics to get there. There’s also been some other things along the way that ensured that I could achieve my goals and I thought it was worthwhile sharing, hoping to inspire others to think big and go for it.
So, what have I done so far and how can this be applied to achieving business success?
There appears to be 8 key steps:
Have a clear visionSet a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)Break this down into smaller, more manageable goalsSet strategies and tactics to achieve these goalsFind yourself a coach or mentorSurround yourself with people who support youExecute on the planCelebrate Success!
1. Be clear about your vision
It all started at the beginning of the year. After a relationship breakup last year, I started to think about my life and what I wanted from it. I realised that from a fitness point of view, I wanted to get back to being truly fit & healthy. There were many other things I wanted, and maybe in another article I’ll share them, but for today I want to take you on my fitness journey thus far.
My vision was to get back to a level of fitness where I felt truly good about myself. For me that means regularly playing sport and being able to undertake any sporting challenge that I want to, knowing that I’ll have no fear and I’ll be able to do it. For those of you that know me personally, you will know that I am currently not really ‘built’ for sport but in my younger days I used to be an avid tennis player, runner & skier, who could turn her hand to any sport… And that’s what I aspire to again.
With that clear vision in mind, I started thinking about what I needed to do and what success looked like.
Without a clear vision, how do you know where you are going and what success looks like? The same can be applied to any business and yet so many businesses don’t take the time to articulate their vision.
2. Set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
The 7 habits of highly effective people states that you should start with the end in mind.
On this basis, there’s no point in setting a goal that is easily achieved…. Look further ahead and decide what your ultimate goal is.
Then don’t be afraid to write this down and commit to it. It’s very rare that goals that are written down don’t get achieved… no matter how big or small. However you get a lot bigger sense of satisfaction when that achieved goal is a big, hairy audacious one 🙂
In my case, it was to be able to run a half marathon by the end of the year, or sooner. I’m not there yet, but I’ve signed up for another one in August and by the end of the year I expect to be able to do it.
3. Break this down into smaller, more manageable goals
That said, BHAGs can be completely overwhelming, so make sure that you break these down in to smaller, more achievable goals.
I decided that being able to just complete a half marathon by April 2015 would be my first goal.
The next goal after that is to be able to complete a 5km run by the end of May 2015 and then it’s a 10km run by end of July.
In business, things may not happen quite as quickly, so it’s important to be realistic about what can be achieved in the time frames you pick. In general when I plan myself, or when I work as a business coach, we look at quarterly goals that lead to the annual goals that lead to the 5 year goals.
What is important is that you are clear about what success looks like, you write it down and you commit to it. Then you need to measure yourself against these goals, adjusting whatever is needed to achieve them.
4. Set strategies and tactics to achieve these goals
The next step is to set strategies to achieve these goals.
In simple terms, a strategy is the “what “ you need to do and the tactics and the “How”.
The “What?” is “What are we trying to accomplish?”
The “How?” is “How are we going to accomplish our goal?” and then who is going to do it and when.
So, if we use my running example, I wanted to be able to run a half marathon by the end of the year.
How I would do that were the tactics… And in the beginning it was to go for a walk / run at least 3-4 times a week until I was easily able to do 5-6km, four days in a row.
By the time Easter weekend came around, I had managed to do 5 days in a row of 5kms and I knew I was ready to take on the half marathon.
My next tactic is to run 4-5 mornings a week, increasing the amount of time that I run until I can easily run 5km…. And then I’ll increase to 10km and finally the half marathon.
With a business, the strategies and tactics are crucial to achieving your goals, so make sure you have thought these through and again have them written down.
5. Find yourself a coach or mentor
I don’t know about you, but I achieve more when I have a coach or a mentor.
I find that I need someone to keep me on track. Someone who can hold me accountable and also someone who really understands what is going on – the good and the bad.
That someone needs to be someone I can pick up the phone and talk to when I’m having a bad day, when I need some inspiration or when I have crazy ideas and need a sounding board.
A coach or a mentor provide you with a sanity check or sounding board, they help you realise the real opportunities and then they hold you accountable for executing your plan and achieving success.
In my case, I have a special friend that I can call on to give me inspiration and get me back on track. She also stepped in when my original half marathon partner pulled out…. That’s the sort or person you need for your personal life and for your business!
6. Surround yourself with people who support you
This sounds really obvious, but sometimes we don’t notice that some people are not the right people to have around you if you want to achieve success.
Not everyone will be supportive of what you are trying to achieve. They might appear to be so, but over time you realise that they are not fully supportive, in fact subconsciously they might even be sabotaging your efforts.
I still haven’t quite worked out why people do this, but I think it possibly comes down to their own insecurities? It’s probably not something I’m going to be able to solve though nor do you need to.
The reality is that you don’t need these people around you. You need to be surrounded by truly supportive people to achieve your full potential and this might mean getting rid of people in your life who don’t meet the criteria.
How do you know you have the right people around you?
Listen to the language they use. Watch how they react to you sharing your dreams and goals. See how they respond when you tell them of your successes and achievements, even the small ones. Those that are truly supportive will always use positive language, they’ll encourage you to strive for your dreams and goals and they’ll be truly thrilled when you achieve your successes.
Without the support of my amazing friends, I wouldn’t have got to where I am right now and they continue to inspire me to go further….That’s how I know I have surrounded myself with the right people.
7. Execute on the plan
The most important part of all of this is the ‘doing’. A great idea, a great plan and great strategies are nothing without execution.
For me, and the half marathon effort, I had to make sure that I had time put aside to train. Without training, there was no way I could ever have compete … And training takes time.
In a busy world it’s easy to prioritise other things but you have to think about everything you do and decide if it is taking you towards your end goal. If it’s not then get rid of it. Make time for the things that do take you forwards, both in the short term and the long term, block out your diary and commit to them.
The key is to make sure you have the time and the resources to commit to executing on the plan. Do this by freeing up your time through getting help and outsourcing non-key things. Think of the opportunity cost of doing things yourself that don’t take you closer towards your end goal.
Do everything you can to give yourself the best chance of success.
And always remember this…
When you feel like quitting, think about why you started…
It always gets you re-motivated!
8. Celebrate Success
It’s important to celebrate success…. Even the small successes are steps towards your greater goal…. So celebrate each and every one of them.
Share them with your support network and your friends and family.
Give yourself rewards for having achieved what you set out to do… Appropriate to the size of the goal.
For me, having completed the half marathon, I decided to treat myself to a couple of new running tops. They will remind me of what I achieved but also help me towards my next goal. I also went out with a friend to celebrate.
When I complete a half marathon running the entire way then I am going to take my support network out for dinner and I shall be treating myself to a week at a luxury retreat… Can’t wait!
PS: I don’t think I’ll be able to walk tomorrow, but it’s a small price to pay for the massive grin on my face right now… And that will keep getting me up and getting back into it 🙂