In the past four months, I have logged over 230 miles on my mobile running app. Not to toot my own horn, but – beep, beep! All jokes aside, I have been training for a ten-mile race that my beautiful city of Philadelphia hosts every year. It’s a glorious sight – over 40,000 runners running down Broad Street and what feels like the entire city cheering us on.
I actually hate training but I really love the solitude of running. It’s just me, my ragged breathing, my motivational podcasts and my thoughts.
One of my recurring thoughts was the correlation between my progression as a runner and my progression as a business owner. I saw that I could apply the principles I learned as a runner to running my business.
Principal 1: There are no shortcuts.
Training for a race is grueling. Day in and day out, you have to show up – regardless of how you feel. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired or if you are discouraged. You show up, put in the work to get the results you want.
It should be the same with our businesses, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. This is a painful lesson for me. If I was tired, I wouldn’t make any additional calls or emails sharing my business or product. If I was discouraged, I’d spend my time doing something else to take my mind off the situation. You can’t grow a business like that.
Like my Nana used to say, “Don’t nothing work but the work.” In order for us to get to the finish line, we have to do the things we don’t want to do.
Principal 2: Schedule time when you are productive and focused.
When I first started running outdoors, I was so embarrassed by someone I knew seeing me run that I would schedule my runs after work…in the dark. For a while, embarrassment was my motivator. Needless to say, it was a very reactive, unproductive way of motivating because, after an intense day at my 9to5, my brain was fried, I could not focus on my run.
It took me a while to understand my body clock; morning is when I am most productive and focused. I had to “pull up my big girl panties” and deal with insecurity.
As Entrepreneurs, we are guilty of this. We force ourselves to work, even when we’re not being productive, and we accomplish nothing. Like I said, I am most productive in the morning, so I block time for the hardest tasks after my morning run. When are you at your most productive? If it’s the afternoon, block out time for those hard tasks then. When you understand your body clock, you’ll become more productive.
Principal 3: Keep going. Do not stop.
I spotted a spray painted sign on my run this weekend and it was like it was there just for me. I was about 7 miles into a 10-mile run and was not feeling it. I was flooded with negative thoughts and very ready to give up on my sweat session when I saw the stop sign spray-painted with the message: “Don’t stop.”
Aw damn. It was right, though. I did stop to take a picture, giving myself a quick breather.
Being an entrepreneur is hard. There are days we wake up and we don’t want to do a darn thing, but this is where the mental toughness comes in. We have to tell ourselves to keep going, don’t stop.
If you don’t hustle, you don’t eat.
Principal 4: Run your own race.
Comparison is the thief of joy.– Theodore Roosevelt
Picture it: You rocked your business, signed up three new customers, and added a business partner. You are filled with excitement and ready to post your awesomeness on social media. And then you see someone posted their super business news of Oprah holding their product.
Suddenly you don’t feel so awesome, and you start second-guessing your decision of becoming an entrepreneur.
See? Comparison = joy thief.
Be happy and celebrate where you are. When we compare ourselves to others, we’re comparing our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.