Our Chief Operating Officer did it again! Ross Manley recently completed his 12th IRONMAN – this time, IM 70.3 Atlantic City.
Known as the pinnacle of endurance sport, an IRONMAN is not an easy feat. Just the thought of competing in three back-to-back long-distance races (3.8km swim, 180km bike ride, 42km run) is exhausting. For some, it’s a one-time accomplishment, for others it’s a lifestyle. For all, it’s about setting a vision, establishing a strategy, executing to plan and maintaining accountability. Sounds like a business proposal or project plan. The similarities in preparing for an IRONMAN and performing at work are remarkable.
Averaging 1-2 IRONMAN events a year for the past 10 years, Ross has a great awareness on the parallels of his triathlon experience with his performance at work. He breaks it down into four simple steps.
You have to set measurable goals and objectives and project where you want to be within a certain timeframe. Whether it’s achieving a personal best in distance swimming, riding or running, or celebrating record results in business, setting a vision creates intention and focus on what success looks like and how you’re going to get there. To establish the right state of mind, you have to visualize yourself succeeding.
The mind is a powerful thing. It can work for you or against you. But it’s up to you and how you train your mind in what you choose to think.
Whether you’re an aspiring athlete or a budding entrepreneur in start-up mode, having a well-thought out plan sets you on the right course of action – with purpose and determination. Your strategy should be somewhat flexible. Whether you have work commitments, family obligations or training and nutrition requirements, all elements of your life need to be factored in to achieve a degree of sustainable balance. For a triathlon, it’s not just managing your time with one sport, but balancing it across three to ensure equal ability. Ross trains on each sport three times a week, averaging 10-12 hours a week for six months before a race.
You have to have a plan, know your training program and trust that you’re going to stick to it. It’s the same in business. Know your end result and work piece by piece to achieve it.
It takes months of training and strict health and nutrition regimes to prepare for a triathlon. You also need to be prepared for a number of variables on race day, knowing that not everything is within your control. Weather and course conditions and equipment mishaps can wreak havoc on your race results. Not to mention the physical pain, fatigue and mental noise. Learning how to tackle these situations with drive and determination are key to a desirable end result.
Ross riding in torrential rain on race day.
In a race, you have to deal with everything that comes at you – whether it’s a jellyfish or being punched or kicked while swimming, to a flat tire, cramps and hydration issues. Between the physical pain and mental noise (thoughts of self-doubt, defeat and hopelessness), an IRONMAN builds strength and stamina and tests your willpower and agility.
In business, this type of training enables you to see adverse situations as a process that you need to work through piece by piece. There isn’t a silver bullet solution or a quick fix to manage workplace problems. You learn patience, process and perseverance in problem-solving.
Ross’ arm on race day to help keep him focused. It stands for “Forward, never straight; always relentless.”
There’s a lot to learn about yourself, your abilities and what it takes to achieve your vision. It also takes the support of a number of professionals, friends and family members to help you see it through. From fitness coaches and nutritionists to massage and physiotherapists, there is a huge degree of learning and development that needs to be maintained.
The same applies in the workplace. Collaboration, cooperation and a shared sense of contribution are key to a company’s success. Everyone has a part to play and a degree of responsibility and self-discipline. The reward and recognition for achieving results, at work or in a race, can trigger the same neurotransmitters.
Don’t underestimate yourself. With the right support system in place, stay motivated, gain confidence and trust that you can overcome any obstacle. I’m fortunate to work for a company that not only pushes me professionally but also encourages me to push myself personally as well. I’m grateful for their support and remain committed to applying the same drive and determination to my personal and professional goals.
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