This is my last year in high school. There are moments when I look back at the past three years. Before I went into high school, the only time I ran was on the soccer field. Now I run every day, and in some cases 14 miles on a given day.
My business also looks a lot different now than it looked when I got into high school. This blog didn’t exist. Most of the content I wrote went towards my Yugioh Blog. To think that was a little over three years ago.
So why am I bringing all of this up? I believe that running had (and continues to have) a strong impact on what I have been able to do (few things build commitment more than waking up at 6 am to run 14 miles at 8 am). If you want to become a successful entrepreneur, consider adding a daily run to your schedule. Many successful entrepreneurs such as Jack Dorsey run often.
Running builds a sense of commitment while providing lessons about life along the way. Many of these lessons can be applied to entrepreneurship. As I got faster and did more with my business, I was amazed with how many parallels existed in the runner’s mindset and the entrepreneur’s mindset.
Here is a taste of what I have learned from running for a little over three years:
#1: Have A Team
In business, there are three teams:
- Accountability team
- Team of helpers
- Team of promoters
Running teaches you about all three of them.
No matter what mile you are on, and no matter how fast you are, it is easier to walk than run. It is tempting to go for the easier option. But when dozens of teammates are running beside you, walking is no longer an option. Having a team increases your accountability and can make a challenging workout a fun one.
Team Of Helpers
Coaches like to have big teams because a big team creates more depth. This depth is important in competitions because the more athletes there are on a team, the more points it is possible for a team to score.
Each athlete has the potential to score a number of points on an individual level. All of the points athletes score as individuals or relays count towards the team’s total number of points. A team with two athletes on it is very likely to get outperformed by the team with over 100 athletes. Even if the two athletes are better than the 100 athletes on the other, the depth of the larger team means more team points than the team with the two athletes.
The reason why teams win championships is because many athletes contributed to the final team score. There are some athletes who stand out, but it’s typically many athletes scoring some points that leads to a win.
As an entrepreneur, it is tempting to handle the workload all by yourself. The solopreneur lifestyle sounds cool and flashy when in reality it holds people back from their true potential.
Being successful as a solopreneur is like trying to win a track meet in which you are the only person on your team and all of the other teams have dozens of athletes. It’s just as unlikely as running across a busy highway with blindfolds on. Possible, but very unlikely.
Team Of Promoters
It’s easy to learn about this type of team in your every day life. Just listen to conversations and see what topics are brought up. Rumors and news are the two things that often spread the most. My teammates and I have conversations during our runs. As we talk about different topics, word-of-mouth marketing is in action.
#2: You Need To Be With People Who Are Better Than You
My biggest improvements as a runner came with other runners were ahead of me for most or all of the race. I kept up with people who I wanted to stay with, and seeing people in front of me gives me a stronger incentive to sprint the final straightaway.
I use this straightaway to get as close to the people ahead of me as possible. Sometimes I pass them and sometimes I don’t. Either way, I get a better time.
When I have a bigger lead and no one is in front of me, I tend to go slower. I look back to see where everyone else is (a big no in the running world). When no one else is in front of me, I often find myself doing the absolute minimum to win the race. I almost never run better times but instead go for placement.
This common approach is sufficient for scoring points, but it is not good enough to running faster times.
The people you surround yourself with will either raise your bar or lower your bar. If you are the most business savvy entrepreneur on your team, then you raise the bar for your entire team. This responsibility results in your bar getting slightly raised.
However, to raise your bar higher, surrounding yourself with people who are better than you is critical. When I run with people who are better than me, I get better times and higher quality workouts. Ever since I started partnering up with other experts to create and market training courses, I got better results. I learned more things about marketing and course creation that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.
Talent is contagious. When you constantly surround yourself with people who are more talented than you are, some of that talent is going to spill into your life too.
#3: Take Rests To Avoid Burnout
To someone outside of the running world, it seems logical that the person who runs 365 days every year will be faster than the person who only runs for 300 days every year (assuming their typical workouts are the same).
Someone inside of the running world understands the person who ran for all 365 days in the year will actually be slower than the person who only ran for 300 days in the year (which is still very impressive). Runners get faster when they do workouts. However, taking long breaks after a few weeks of hard workouts also leads to faster times.
Contrary to popular belief, Olympic runners never run for all 365 days of the year. After intense workout schedules, some Kenyan runners take more than two months off. And the Kenyans know how to get great times. Their top athletes have broken numerous records. If an athlete wins a marathon or Olympic event, and I don’t know who the athlete is, I will always guess that the athlete is a Kenyan. That’s how good they are.
The most successful entrepreneurs put in a lot of work, but they also take long rests to avoid burnout. Even Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer who at one point worked for over 130 hours every week understands the importance of taking breaks. She takes a one week vacation from her work every month.
Working 365 days per year doesn’t lead to successful entrepreneurship. It’s a trap that typically results in your business consuming your life. When business consumes too much of your life, it can also consume your happiness.
#4: Always Strive To Do Better Than Before
EVERY passionate runner goes into a race wanting to run a faster time. It’s natural for a runner to want to run a faster time. At some point, this desire gets encoded into our DNA. Just like any runner in his first year, I saw significant improvements in my times. With each improvement, I always wanted to run a better time during the next race.
It is this part of the runner’s mindset that makes settling with current progress an impossibility. No matter how much my mile time improves in the upcoming winter track season, I will want to run a better time during my spring track season.
This runner’s mentality also became a part of my entrepreneurial mindset. Every month, I always strive to get better results (subscribers, revenue, followers, etc) than the previous month. All businesses want to do better this month than last month, but there is a difference between wanting something and striving with a burning passion to do something.
After a few runs, there are few desires that will surpass the desire of running a better time at the next event than you did the last time you ran the same distance.
#5: Know Yourself
Every runner has a different body. Most of them fall into two groups: long distance runner or sprinter. I am a decent sprinter at best, but my real strength is in distance events. Therefore, I would focus on my strength so I could better contribute to the team’s success.
Knowing your body also means knowing when you need a day off or a shorter workout. Runners who don’t know when they need to rest or take it easy risk getting injured.
Entrepreneurs need to know what they are good at so they can focus on those areas. Not focusing enough time on your strengths can result in missed opportunities. Another thing all entrepreneurs need to know is what they want from their own businesses. Identifying what you want is the first step towards getting what you actually want.
If you want to make a certain income from your business or achieve a certain level of influence, then make that clear to yourself. Once that is settled, pursue that goal to its completion.
Running is a great way to get stronger and stay in shape. The surprising benefit of running is that it can teach you many life lessons and strengthen your mindset along the way. Running is a critical part of my life but also a critical part of my business’ success. The work we do is only part of the equation to success. For me and other entrepreneurs, running is a significant part of that equation.
Do you run? Are you going to start? Do you see other parallels between running outside and running a business? Sound off in the comments section below.