Last week I began a series of posts discussing how becoming an Ironman triathlete prepared me to leave corporate America and start my own business. I developed 5 Principles that helped me greatly in my entrepreneurial journey. Last week I covered the 1st Principle – Discover Your Desire. Today I will talk about the 2nd Principle – Be comfortable being uncomfortable, how embracing and training for the unknown helped me in my business growth journey.
Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
On Sunday August 7 2016, I raced on the toughest course I have ever raced on at the Poconos Half Ironman (a Half Ironman triathlon is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run). This race was in the mountains of Pennsylvania with biking and running up and down steep mountains. I have never had nightmares about a race before but I did this time. Race day arrived and I had a good swim (at least the swim was flat!) I was very uncomfortable but I made it over the mountains on my bike. The last part of a triathlon is the run; you are already fatigued as you start the run. I had never ran (OK walked) up and down the side of a mountain. In fact the 13.1 mile course was set up so each athlete had to run 4 loops of the same course. I had to go up and down the mountain 8 times. Boy was I uncomfortable!
Luckily I had trained to be used to being uncomfortable. I knew going in that we were racing in the mountains. I knew I would be uncomfortable and I was OK with it. I was ready to embrace the unknown. I was comfortable being uncomfortable.
In every triathlon, you are almost always uncomfortable, you are breathing heavy, your muscles are hurting, you are thirsty, you are hot, the list goes on. Throughout the race there are points in time when you feel good but those are usually very few. Your brain is working against you – always finding ways to try and get you to stop.
Embrace the unknown!
During a race I get excited about the unknown – what is around the next corner, the next leg of the race, the last mile. The unknown creates discomfort. I have learned to embrace the unknown and this has helped me as I started my business journey. Triathlon taught me that every moment was new and sometimes very different and that is OK! I was learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Train yourself – the unknown becomes the known
The legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden used to say, “When the opportunity arises it is too late to prepare.” This is a mantra I use while training and has served me well while growing my business.
I didn’t just show up on the start line – I trained myself every day, every week, every year so that I could become a better triathlete. These experiences gave me confidence that when I came up on an unknown I had the experience to fall back on.
As a triathlete, you spend months and years getting used to being uncomfortable. I had to develop these skill as a business owner. Every day is different, rarely are two days the same. I have good days and bad days, just like I have good races and bad races. I have learned to translate my training in triathlon to my business. I know I am going to do things that I have never done before and I am going to be uncomfortable. But this is OK! I have learned that the joy of being a business owner is the excitement of the unknown. I embrace it and I look forward to the next new challenge.
Next Wednesday – Principle #3 – Stay in the Moment
Eric has over 25 years’ experience in small business, startup, and large companies and has held numerous roles focusing on business and financial strategy in businesses. He is currently the Owner and Founder of EDGe Business Planning. EDGe works with small business owners to help them understand their financial and business information and use it to grow their business profitably. For more information about EDGe Business Planning, visit edgebusinessplanning.com.