What Marathons Can Teach You About Your Business

“When I read my friend and internet marketing specialist Michele P.W.’s article linking business to a marathon, I knew I wanted to share it with you as her observations ring so true. Having run a few half marathons and in an intensive weight training program with a personal trainer right now, I can certainly relate to her points … how about you?! ”

I finished walking my first marathon in San Diego a week ago.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But, it was also an amazing accomplishment.

One thing that struck me while hoofing it toward the finish line was the similarities between running a business and running a marathon (or in my case, walking a marathon). I’ll cover 5 altogether — 2 this week and 3 next.

1. It’s all about the mind. There was a quote posted around 18, 19 miles that said “I run marathons because after mile 20, it’s all about your mind.” Or something like that. (My cognitive skills were fading at that point.)

Basically, what that means is after you’ve walked 20 miles, there’s nothing left. You’re exhausted, your leg muscles are a tangled mass of pain and all you want to do is cry because you STILL have over 6 miles to go. Those are probably the longest 6 miles of your life.

So what keeps you going? Sheer willpower and determination.

You WILL cross that finish line. No matter what. So you keep going. Despite the pain and exhaustion.

This is the same way successful people feel about their businesses. They WILL be a success. No matter what. No matter that they’re feeling frustrated and depressed right now. No matter that they’ve just experienced a huge failure. They still get up and keep going.

And, because of that determination, they do become a success.

But actually it’s more than determination. They WANT to succeed. That’s really what it comes down to.

Think of it this way. When you’ve hit that 20-mile mark, 90 percent of your body is telling you to stop. Basically every cell in your body below your neck is saying: “Fuel is depleted, energy reserves are dangerously low, serious damage in the hull. We need to stop the madness so we can regroup and repair.”

Only 10 percent of your body is saying: “Naw, we need to keep going.” So for that 10 percent to keep the 90 percent from screaming “mutiny,” that 10 percent has to REALLY want to finish.

And that’s the way it is for your business. You have to REALLY want to succeed. Because it’s too hard if you don’t. You’re going to experience set backs and failures and naysayers and everything else. And unless you really want to succeed, you won’t be able to overcome all of that.

However, if being a huge business success isn’t want you want, that’s OKAY. There’s no shame in not wanting something enough to keep going when 90 percent of your body tells you to stop. Maybe it isn’t the right time, or it’s not your passion or whatever. It’s okay to decide you don’t want something enough to go after it single-mindedly.

But, if you DO decide you don’t want it that much, then don’t be surprised when you don’t cross the finish line.

2. Attitude counts. I admit it. I was in a grumpy mood near the end. I was not at all prepared for the amount of physical pain I’d be in, and was not a happy camper.

Compare that to the people around me who were clapping their hands, saying things like “I feel fabulous” and “I’m so excited to be doing this.” (And I don’t even want to talk about the people who saw the finish line and ran across it.)

I have no doubt they had just as many aches and pains (if not more) as I did, but they kept right on smiling through it all.

Sure, we both finished. But they probably found it a lot less of a struggle than I did, not to mention enjoying themselves a heck of a lot more. (And they may have completed it in less time.)

3. There is no “should.” When you picture the type of people who do marathons, who do you see? Young, thin, athletic?

Nothing could be further from the truth.

There were people of all shapes and sizes, of all ages (there is an 80-99 year old class by the way) and some with pretty significant disabilities.

And, not only did they finish, but a lot of them beat the pants off of the people who more resembled the stereotypical marathon runner.

So how does this relate to business success? Do any of these sound familiar:

“I don’t have the right education.”

“I’m too old.”

“I’m too young.”

“My kids are still in school.”

“I don’t know enough.”

“I don’t have the money.”

“The economy is bad.”

“My industry has changed.”

And so on.

For every reason people have for why they haven’t started a business or why their business isn’t successful, there’s a successful, thriving business owner out there who has faced the same or worse obstacles and has overcome them.

But this is deeper than excuses. People really do feel like they can’t be successful in business because of some image in their head. Maybe they think all successful business owners have MBAs, or had family connections, or were raised a certain way.

But I’m here to tell you that’s not true. There is no “picture” of the successful business owner. Some have PhDs, some are high school dropouts. Some got a bankroll from their families, some had to finance their business on credit cards.

The one thing they DO have in common is they were determined to cross the finish line.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of cheerleaders. There were times during the marathon when hearing someone say “You can do it,” “It’s only a little farther,” “You’ll almost there” made a huge difference. Especially near the end, those encouragements gave me something to hang on to.

It’s been said that a lot of people give up when success is right around the corner. They can’t see it yet, but if they had just hung on for a bit longer, all their hard work would start to pay off. Maybe if they had had a cheerleader or two yelling “Mile 22 is right around the corner,” that would have been enough for them to keep them going.

On that note, don’t be stingy with the cheers yourself. Your casually tossed off comment may make the difference between someone staying in the game or bailing out. After all, we’re in this together. Life is hard enough to not share a few cheers along the way.

5. Don’t underestimate the power of mentors, coaches and friends. A group of us went to San Diego to do the marathon together, and we ended up making a fun weekend out of it. As this was my first marathon, it was so nice being with people who had already done it many times before. They had a routine, knew the pitfalls and could give me advice and get me prepared.

As a business owner, coaches and mentors can help smooth the path of your success. They can tell you what worked, and what didn’t work. They can give you an idea of what to expect. They understand what you’re going through and can “talk the talk.” They can help you brainstorm new ideas and see chinks you might have missed.

And, let’s not forget they can make the whole journey a lot more fun.

Michele PW (Michele Pariza Wacek) is your Ka-Ching! marketing strategist. She helps entrepreneurs attract more clients, sell more products and services and boost their business. To find out how she can help you take your business to the next level, visit http://www.MichelePW.com.

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