Success is the result of health and strength in all aspects of our lives. When one aspect of our life is weak or compromised, the consequences manifest in all areas. Ideally we must strive to nurture and condition our minds, bodies, and spirits regularly. Accomplishing this requires daily discipline, and compels us to push against our limitations so that we can get stronger. When we do not flex our mental, physical, and spiritual muscles, they atrophy.
I’ve been a hard core fitness enthusiast ever since I was 15, when I saw Linda Hamilton in The Terminator. My commitment to physical fitness has been one of the most important factors in my success as a leader and entrepreneur. It is the single most important habit I have to keep me in top condition so that I have the stamina and mental fortitude to withstand the challenges of business growth.
Executing on a dream or vision to build a business is one of the most mentally challenging endeavors a person will ever pursue. Every day, we are faced with nonbelievers, seemingly insurmountable challenges, and 101 reasons to quit. But still we persevere.
There are many parallels between business-building and body-building. In both endeavors, we fight against daily obsolescence and atrophy. We constantly have to push harder, maintain discipline, and mix things up to stay strong.
I recently started a new conditioning and strength class called Body Shred. It is a 30-minute circuit that Jillian Michaels created. You primarily use your body weight through a series of 30-second exercises without a break. It is the hardest training I have ever done. It’s transforming me. In 4 weeks, I already see quantum leaps in strength, stamina, endurance, and flexibility. I fought the negative voice that initially spoke to me that said, “I can’t do this. It’s too hard.” So now, I am on the path to my next level of fitness.
I’ve identified 12 business lessons from this plateau I conquered.
- Transformation is painful. It’s so much easier to stay where you are. Staying where you are, however, is the same as going backwards. To move forward, you must mentally steel yourself for pain. The short-term pain is worth the long-term gain. If you want to remain in business, you need to embrace the idea of change.
- When you’re going through hell, keep going. When your business is suffering, you have two choices: quit or keep going. The pain will eventually stop. The result will be a stronger company, that may not resemble the initial company, but it will be better.
- Things are not always what they seem. Do not judge a book by its cover. Especially in today’s environment, companies that look like they have their act together may actually be in shambles, and companies that may appear to be simple or less mature may actually be stellar performers. Dig deep and go beyond what the slick marketing materials present. Have an open mind when approaching new people, new companies, and new opportunities.
- Small moves can make big impacts. In the Body Shred class last week, I could barely walk after we did a series of seemingly small squat moves. I also used 2-pound weights for my upper body exercises. I ached in places I didn’t know had nerve endings. The same principle applies to companies. Seemingly small changes can have large ripple effects. Don’t underestimate the impact of any decision, or any change.
- Your biggest competitor is yourself. I am way too busy focusing on my own form and conditioning to even think about my classmates. My only concern is being stronger than I was in the previous class. In business, if we fixate too much on our competitors, we waste valuable energy that we can be expending on improving ourselves.
- People are usually too preoccupied with themselves to pay attention to you. Conversely, people probably aren’t paying that much attention to you either. They have their own challenges to overcome and their own dragons to slay. You’re relevant to your competition from the perspective of what’s happening in your marketplace, but you aren’t the center of their attention. So don’t invest too much energy into wondering what others think of you.
- There is strength in numbers. Like-minded people make you better. One thing that motivates me to crawl out of bed at 5 AM is knowing that Body Shred will be filled with 20 other people who are also committed to excellence. Their energy and commitment inspires me. For entrepreneurs, there is also strength in numbers. Our support groups out of the office are essential. Our employees are not our peers. We get strength, motivation, and inspiration from others that understand the unique drivers that entrepreneurs feel every day.
- Growth happens outside your comfort zone. I definitely hit a plateau in the gym, even though I was training almost every day with my Spin and Body Pump classes. It’s been a long time since I bit off a little more than I could chew… where I signed up for an activity that made me anxious because it was a little over my head. That feeling of uncertainty is exactly what drives change and growth. In your business, when was the last time you went after an opportunity that would push you to the brink of a new level? It is these situations that create adrenaline surges, and make us excited to move forward.
- Active recovery is hard work. There is a phase in Body Shred called “active recovery.” Here’s the thing…. IT’S HARD! It’s not rest. It’s just a little less difficult than the rest of workout. It’s the same in business. There really is no time for rest. You may be able to take your foot off the gas for a few moments, but in today’s environment, with the speed of change, you can’t disengage. All recovery is active. Even in times of a slow-down, there are so many things a company needs to be doing internally to keep operations moving forward. There is a big difference between “rest” and “active recovery.” Rest moves you backward; Active recovery moves you forward.
- Self-discipline is the key to lasting change. Incremental progress occurs with short-term changes. Lasting progress occurs with permanent changes. Every business is swimming against the tide of obsolescence every day. You are either evolving or receding. To continue improving, we need to stick to our commitments, even when we don’t feel like giving 100%. We won’t be able to give 100% all of the time, but 60%, 70%, 80% is better than not showing up. The hardest part of life is showing up.
- Your mindset is your biggest ally or your biggest enemy. “I can’t do this class. It’s too hard. I’m too old to be moving this way.” OR “I’m absolutely ready for this challenge. My strongest self is directly ahead of me. I am just getting started.” Which message will contribute to my success? Or my failure? We can solicit input and advice from the best mentors and advisors. Regardless of what they say, their voices will be eventually drowned out with our own. What messages are you telling yourself every day? It is the single most important message you will hear. In business or in the gym, what is your mindset? The good news is that you have 100% control over the message.
- Finally, keep your Core strong, and the rest will follow suit. In physical conditioning, the most important muscle group to strengthen is your core, which consists of your abdominal muscles and your back muscles. When these are strong, they are able to support the growth and development of your other muscle groups. Businesses also require a strong “core.” The three elements are your core value system, your mission, and your vision. What do you stand for? Why do you exist? Where are you going? When we stay true to these foundational elements, the rest of the business is able to move forward. When we lose sight of them and they weaken, the results cascade throughout the organization. Maintaining a strong core is essential to personal and organizational well-being.
To reach our personal potential, we must condition and strengthen all aspects of our lives. We are the sum total of our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. How balanced are you in these four areas?
My coaching work takes a strategic approach to ensure holistic health so that my clients are in top condition to overcome their organizational and leadership challenges. Please let me know how you ensure your holistic excellence to move to your next levels of growth.
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CEO, Successful Culture
“Taking Leaders from Triage to Transformation.”