For those who know me, you will know that I am training for the Augusta 70.3 Ironman on September 23 in Augusta, Georgia. This is a special event for me as I will be doing the race with my son and his girlfriend. Training for a half ironman does not happen overnight. Building the endurance to get through that day’s training, never mind the months of development to be ready can be and is overwhelming. I have had a lot of quiet time in the water, on my bike and on the road pounding out the miles in preparation. During that time, I have thought about how I have approached leading companies, growing people and investing for the long run. The Ironman training and the business strategies have more in common than you would imagine; both take tremendous amounts of GRIT. Dr. Peter Stolz defines GRIT as “Your capacity to dig deep, to do whatever it takes- especially struggle, sacrifice, even suffer- to achieve your most worthy goals”.
Growth is about having an open mindset. Trying new ideas, engaging a challenge and taking your learning to the next level. For the ironman, I have a great coach, Sandra Ricciuto. She has given me the plan, the foundation that I need to engage to be “ready”. Sometimes “the plan” is not possible to follow to the letter as life gets in the way. Running a business, somehow, seems to take priority. So, let’s mix it up and find a way to make it happen. High intensity interval training during the week and long hauls on the weekends. Flexing around the schedule but always moving forward toward the goal. A growth mindset is the critical piece; every day, every workout is one step closer to ready. Always setting new boundaries and personal records to be broken to achieve the next level. If I didn’t tell you this was for the ironman, you could just as easily apply this thinking to business. Always taking that step forward, trying new ideas and taking the chance of disrupting the business for future growth.
Resilience is all about your response to adversity. Adversity in training has taken the form of aches and pains, time and in some cases out right fear. I always thought of myself as a strong swimmer until I was faced with open water, constricted by a wet suit with hundreds of other swimmers trying to get ahead. Fear in its worst form. Being pulled under water, physically hit and then being resilient enough to say “bring it on!”. I’ve got this…. just keep swimming. My life in business turnarounds felt the same in many ways. Just when I thought we were in the clear and demonstrating success, something else would happen. We would lose a key employee, the price of oil would bottom out, a new product design would fail. As leaders, how we deal with adversity sets the tone for the whole organization. Demonstrating resiliency and not panic in a time of crisis or long-term challenge can set the bar for the whole organization. People are watching, and it does matter.
Instinct is about how clearly your “gut” speaks to you. Does your goal feel right and are you chasing it the right way? I still question my instincts about the ironman but why not? Chasing it the right way, I am definitely in good hands. Sandra got me through in 2016 and I am confident I will get through it again. In business, how clear is your crystal ball? Allowing your experience to guide you, trusting your judgement and taking the risk to succeed. Many great leaders will tell you they follow their gut. They trust their instincts that they are doing the right things and they are willing to take the chance. People ask how do you know this is the right thing to do? I trust my experience and my past success to see me through. If I have never done it before, of course I way the risks and leverage the data and information available in the moment of decision; but, I make a decision and I trust my gut.
Tenacity is about persistence and the relentless pursuit towards your goal. Once your body is ironman ready there is still a lot to be done. Getting your head in the right space to keep going to the end is just as important as your body. Mind over matter is key. If I can get out of the water, the bike I can handle. Ten miles into the bike ride, only 46 to go, that’s a typical Sunday ride. Finishing with a half marathon; every mile is one mile closer. Persistence and determination will carry me through. Business strategy never happens overnight. It is one milestone, one big rock, one big initiative to get closer to success. And when the milestone is achieved, step forward with the next initiative that will be a game changer and next move to grow and scale up the business. A colleague on mine always said, strive for perfection and you will meet excellence along the way. For me it is your say: do ratio. If you say it, do it!
It takes GRIT to build a great company and to keep it great. It takes GRIT to achieve your life long goals and to knock things off your bucket list. Ask yourself the question, do you have GRIT? If you don’t, the good new is you can get it. Start today.