Having done numerous Ironman events, it occurred to me that the preparation, training and racing strategies that are employed are actually very similar to those in business. For those of you that are not familiar with Ironman triathlon, it’s a one day race that consists of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike and finished with a 26.2 (marathon) run. It’s a long day, but it can take months or years of preparation and training for this race.
The saying in business, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is also true in Ironman triathlon. In order to begin the process of completing this race, you have to get in, schedule or register for the event almost a year in advance, committing yourself and your resources to a course of action. This is the start of the plan. Everything in your plan now works backwards from this event date or goal. Just like in business, goals have to have timelines and objectives.
This commitment helps focus your plans and ultimately your goals. Similarly in business, you have to plan your business operations around a particular strategy or direction. If you want to become a leader in a specific segment of an industry or achieve greater sales, profits or expand your customer base, you need to put a plan together to accomplish this. To achieve the goal, you have to work backwards from the desired result and plan an approach to success.
Just like an athlete, you have to put in the work and practice to get better. Training the body regularly will produce results. Similarly in business, you need to consistently produce the effort and activities in order to reach your target. If you follow this plan and put the work in, you’ll benefit. You may not win the race or even realize the exact goal, but the experience of trying to get there, can sometimes be more valuable and rewarding than the goal itself. Try thinking about how you would prepare for a race the next time you’re asked to step into a business planning or strategy session.
By David Scott