What is it that drives some people to push themselves beyond their pre-supposed limits and others stay firmly rooted in their comfort zones? What is it that drives some people to push themselves beyond their pre-supposed limits and others stay firmly rooted in their comfort zones?
Why, in business, do some people coast and enjoy mediocrity whilst others stress, strive and struggle to always go one step further?
Why did I spend a big chunk of my Sunday, a day usually retained for rest and recovery after a big week at work, taking my mind, body and spirit to a place that
I’m not entirely sure they were designed to go?
This is a question I asked myself at 2pm yesterday whilst sitting peacefully in my car on my way home feeling like I had just been run over by a locomotive with nothing to show for my endeavours than a finishers’ t-shirt, a shiny medal and a body ready for the scrapheap!
I’m no athlete by any stretch of the imagination. I’m no better nor any more special than anyone else, but I had just managed to complete something I thought was pretty special – a full Ironman 70.3 in somewhat challenging conditions (imagine cycling and running into a hairdryer for 5.5 hours to give you some sense).
If you’re not sure what an Ironman 70.3 is, then the quick definition is something which is ever so slightly ridiculous! A triathlon encompassing a 1.9km swim, then out on to a bike for a 90km ride all finishing up with a half marathon – all back to back with no time to even go to the toilet in between each section, let alone prepare yourself mentally and physically for the next part.
It is a fairly absurd thing to do when you think about it, but yet something I am now pretty addicted to. I feel like I am in my prime and can handle it, but there is not getting away from the fact that a part of that sentiment is a vain attempt to warn off the looming mid-life period of my being on this planet (the whole one-piece lycra mankini I was wearing clearly proves that!).
There is no doubt that with the conditions we endured yesterday, this was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. I’ve raced before, in longer events, but yesterday was a challenge.
In some parts the pain was excruciating, and I had countless and very convincing internal conversations with myself as to why I should give up… but I never stopped. I just kept going, as thousands do each year when they embark on Marathons, long distance walks and Rides to Paris.
Of course, the feeling you get when you successfully complete a race, parcelled in all the congratulations and hugs you receive for friends, family and other racers is something that you will always cherish and sends a very warm glow through every part of your body. But when you’re out alone in the water, riding on the road or pacing through the seemingly endless run, with just your thoughts, something is going on…
Being a business leader, you can often spend a lot of time alone, trying to keep yourself and your staff motivated even when the conditions become a little challenging. Trying to overcome any bit of adversity even when you sometimes feel like giving up. Trying to push the business to the next level in the face of competitive pressures from every angle.
Some of course do give up and move on to something else. That is only natural and nothing to be ashamed of. We are all humans after all. But many business leaders, whatever is thrown at them, push on through. They dig deep inside of themselves to find whatever it is they need to move forward. That one thing to make them go again… because they are after something.
Something more important than a cash reward, a finishers’ t-shirt or a shiny medal. Something far more positive than just trying to beat everyone else. Something far more meaningful than kudos on social media or a public stroking of their ego.
They want to achieve a purpose that makes a difference… a very real and measurable difference.
Sure, we all like the kudos and the trophies (that’s why I put a picture of me up on this post with my medal!), but they are in the majority superficial. That is not what we think about when we run, bike or swim when our bodies say enough! That is not what we think about when we reflect with pride on our businesses and what we do for our customers and colleagues.
Since my first son passed away a number of years ago, something that really stops you in your tracks and makes you look at things in a very different perspective, I made the commitment to myself and to my son TJ, that I would embrace the mind (now slightly exhausted!), the body (now slightly broken!) and the attitude (now slightly wired!) I have been given whilst on this planet and use it to make a very real and significant difference.
Yesterday, I had a purpose and I was making a difference, so I didn’t stop.
Today, in my business, I have a purpose and am making a difference, so I will not stop.
As a business leader, however you are feeling, however challenged you might be, however tired and exhausted you are, stop and reflect on why you do what you do and go searching for that purpose because that is what will keep you going and get you to the finishing line.
Go again, and make a difference….!