This is the final in 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. Over the past 4 weeks I have discussed 4 of the 5 principles - Discover Your Desire, Be comfortable being uncomfortable, Stay in the moment, and Keep Moving Forward. Today I will discuss Principle #5 – It takes a Village!
On Saturday May 08, 2010, I was competing in the Kinetic Half Ironman (a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) at Lake Anna in Virginia. It was a beautiful morning for a race – the sun was out, the winds were calm, and the temperatures were cool. My good friend Gavin was racing this race as well. Gavin is a great competitor and we always try hard to beat each other when we are going head to head. Gavin had been training well for this race so I knew I had my work cut out for me if I was going to beat him.
I had a good swim in calm Lake Anna. Most triathlons start around 7am which always makes the swim the most beautiful part of the day as the sun rises over the water. I came out of the water ahead of Gavin and headed out on the bike. My 56 mile bike went well but Gavin is a strong cyclist and he passed me on the bike and had a 1 ½ minute lead on me heading out on the 13.1 mile run.
When I started the run I felt OK but then I started to struggle a bit. The temperatures were warming up and I was a bit behind on staying hydrated. I did not think I would be able to catch Gavin this day. But with about 4 miles to go I saw that Gavin was struggling as well and I was gaining on him. With 2 miles to go I caught him and asked how he was doing. Not well he said. I wasn’t doing so good myself. It was a mental and physical struggle to keep moving. We decided then that we both needed each other to finish this race. So we stayed together, and willed each other to the finish. One of my favorite moments was captured in this picture – the two of us crossing the finish line together. We were fierce competitors but that day we had each other’s backs – we were going to help each other finish because we cared about each other finishing.
Not everyone will support you on your Entrepreneurial journey. Most people I talk to have no idea what a triathlon is or they think we are all crazy (which we are). But my triathlete friends come from all walks of life, and have their own story. That is what I love about the triathlon community and what it taught me about business – even though we are competing with each other we are also always there for each other.
You control who is in your village
You have the right to choose. I choose to race triathlons because I enjoy the sport and I have made great friends. I choose who I work with in my business. I have met many people in the triathlon world and in the business world. 90% of them are great people and I enjoy working with them. The other 10% don’t provide positive energy to me. It’s not that I don’t like them – it is just that I want a village that supports me even if they don’t totally understand what I am doing with my life ☺ I have high moral and ethical standards and I have let clients go that didn’t fit who I wanted to be. Did this hurt me financially – yes. But I control who is part of my village and owning a business or running a triathlon is too challenging and rewarding not to have the best support I can.
I am now starting my 13th year as a triathlete and my 6th year as a small business owner. 7 years ago I never could have dreamed I would be here today. I was not an Ironman, I did not have my own business. I found my passion in both my personal and professional life, I embraced uncomfortableness, I am still working to be in every moment, I keep moving forward where I see an opportunity, and I am thankful for the village I have that supports me in all that I do. Today, I feel more secure about my life, my career, and the ones I love. Tomorrow, who knows? But I am excited to find out!
I hope you enjoyed reading these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them and sharing them with you. If you are a triathlete or are interested in learning more about triathlon feel free to reach out to me to get more information or share your stories.
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.