Business lessons from long distance running


I like to run ‘long’ distances. I did put quotes around long because I’m a middle-aged guy who is somewhat overweight (since my last attempt to quit smoking). For me long is a run between 8 and 15 kilometers. So I’m still a long way from a real marathon.  But my runs are long enough to let my thoughts run free and sometimes they even run pretty deep.  Today I was thinking about the similarities between a 10k run and running a company, I decided to share them with you.

Running business
My best runs are the ones when I don’t even know that I’m running. Sometimes my thoughts just wander off and I cover kilometers without even noticing it. The running goes automatically.

When I run I always have music on. I have a special playlist on my iPod, with songs that have the right pace for me to run on. They vary from Eminem via the Red Hot Chili Peppers to David Bowie. The music helps me not to focus on the running.

It occurred to me that running a business is a lot alike. You have a long distance goal (for easygenerator becoming to number one learning authoring environment in the world) and you have to make sure that every step you take will bring you closer to your goal. On the other hand this goal is far away so you don’t get real energy from it. If you only focus on achieving your long-term goal it will cost you a lot of energy to keep moving in that direction. You have to enjoy every step of the way. Music does that for me while I’m running, I’m enjoying it intensely. Projects, customers, partners and colleagues are my ‘working music’. They fill your working live every day. And enjoying what you do with them and achieving short-term goals and celebrating your successes give you energy.

With running selecting my music is important, if it doesn’t have the right rhythm it will upset my pace, I don’t have any slow songs in my playlist. The same goes for projects, customers, partners and colleagues. Before you start with them you need to asses if they will bring you closer to your goal. If not don’t bother, If they do go for it and enjoy it, get energy from them.

Looking back is better than then looking ahead.
A presenter in a workshop was telling a story about her running experiences, and she told me she got a golden tip from a friend: “Never think how far you still have to run, but remember the distance you have already covered”.

Sometimes when you are running it is difficult to keep the pace. When you are experiencing head wind, or have to climb a dike or hill it will disturb your rhythm and you become very aware of the fact that you are running.  These are the moments you notice that you are getting tired and that your legs are sore. Looking back on the distance you have already covered and how well that went helps a lot, it’s like your achievements are pushing you forward again. Way better than thinking of the miles ahead with a strong head wind. The same goes for running your business.

 

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