I have had several people ask about my experiences with Triathlon. While it really started as a way to shake things up personally, the more I spent time with it, the more it related to so much of the business side of things.
As I meet more employees that participate in Triathlons and we start talking about what we have learned, I started thinking that there are clear benefits to share about parallel lessons. So in no particular order, here are my top thoughts:
Always be learning – When I decided to attempt a Triathlon, I really had no history in any of the three sports – swim/cycle/run. While I owned a 12 speed bike growing up it was rarely used – summers last about 2 weeks in Canada (kidding). I also have run while playing other sports but the running was never the sport – and swimming? Well, I was proud of being able to hold my breath the length of a small pool, but most of my experience was just floating. To say I had to get into the learning mindset was an understatement. I had to get extremely comfortable with being uncomfortable. I grabbed books, youtube videos and talked to anyone I knew that had done it before. This process continues to this day. The more I learn about technique, the more I realize how much I still have to learn.
Get into the Game – The theoretical learning and initial exercise was interesting at first but eventually I had to put them all together. When I started training, it was all interesting activities until I picked my first race date – nothing forces you to really concentrate like a deadline. I still remember the sleepless nights leading up to the morning of the race and I still get the shakes before each one. While I may have other races under my belt since then, I have yet to be in a race that I walk away from without a list of things I need to get better at that I learned only because I was in the middle of the race. Just like in business, you need to test yourself in real conditions and it is always amazing how you can learn entirely new things when you just get into the field of battle.
Get used to failure – If you think your training will translate perfectly to what happens on race day, you are mistaken. Mike Tyson’s famous line comes to mind “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Effectively it is not whether you fail, it is what you learn and how quickly you adjust to that failure and come back at your goal.
Find your metrics and focus on improvement – You can always get better. Knowing whether you are working hard with no results or in the groove and making tremendous progress is not based on feel, it is based on proper metrics (or KPIs as some like to call them). Find out the best metrics that articulate the performance you want and obsess over how to improve them.
Look at tools to help – In the Tri, the bike is the largest tool you have but GPS, stride counters, power meters and website data analysis tools have changed how you evaluate yourself. Technology is changing rapidly so you can really improve your performance by using new tools to compliment your core fitness/value-add process.
Wear many hats – Practicing three sports spreads your focus. You are using different muscles in each of the disciplines and you never know how they combine on race day. That does not differ much from running a software company. You will not be successful if you are only good at one thing – you need to not only have a wide base of knowledge and aptitude, you also have to be able to bring it all together for the clients on the competitive field.
Hope some of this resonates with you and may help you dig deeper into your sport or your business life.