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Channel your inner athlete

Success, whether in sports or business, comes down to the same core fundamentals. So take a leaf out of the professional athlete’s playbook.

I was talking to a man recently who has competed in Coast-to-Coast (that multisport race that traverses the South Island of New Zealand), ridden the Lake Taupo Challenge four times (a solo ride of 160km, including some gnarly hills – holy!) and completed the Motu Challenge numerous times (a 65km mountain bike, 17km run, 52km road cycle, 27km kayak, 8km road cycle and 3km run to the finish – and I’m exhausted just typing that!).

To train for all of these events takes some major dedication and mega hours on a bike/road/kayak, but this guy manages to do it around his challenging full-time job, working long days as a manager at a big mill.

How does he do it?

“If you have a good goal to work toward, and it’s important to you, you just keep willing yourself forward, towards that goal,” he shrugged.

To fit in his cycle training, he bikes to work daily – from Matata to Kawerau, which is about a 60km round trip. Even in winter, when he’s biking in the dark both ways. Even when it’s raining. Even when he doesn’t feel like it. I couldn’t think of much worse than finishing a hard day and then having to face a 30km bike ride home, but he leaves himself no alternative, no other mode of transport, so that he has to do it.

This guy used to be a bit of a white-water canoeing pro – he competed in the World Championships a few times back in the ’80s, as a young fella, and then went on to coach the sport. He was telling me that some days, when it was so cold that there was frost on the windshield and the wind was howling outside, he’d really struggle to leave his bed at 6am. He said he had to will himself every step of the way, so he used to just concentrate on the next move.

He’d think, ‘Just get out of bed, just worry about getting out of bed.’ Then, ‘Just put your shoes on.’ He’d be in the car at the falls, the rain teeming down outside, in the dark, and he’d will himself, ‘Just get out of the car. Just get out of the car’. Then, ‘Just get in the canoe’. ‘Just move your arms around a bit.’ At that stage his blood would start pumping and he’d be off.

Be this guy. Every day in your business, when things seem too hard, just take small steps. Will yourself to carry on with the next task. If it’s too scary to think about the amount of work you have to do, don’t. Just chomp away at it in bite-sized pieces. If you find you’re never getting around to doing one of those important things on your to-do list, such as strategising, leave yourself no alternative so that you have to do it. Even if it means clearing your desk for the time being. Even if it means leaving the office and working elsewhere for the day.

Think about your end goal, think about why it’s important and what it means to you. Then think about the things you need to do to get there. Prioritise these things, diarise these things, make it happen.

Zac de Silva is a business coach and former owner of Barkers Menswear. He currently runs Business Changing and works with over 70 clients, including BNZ, Westfield, Huffer, Foodstuffs, The Icehouse and Les Mills.

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