A Marathon, Not A Sprint

by Carol Anderson, Featured Contributor

Business is difficult, particularly these days with big data, knowledgeable and informed customers, four generations in the workplace….I could go on.  We are busier yet as we emerge (well, try to emerge) from the great recession.

triathlonAre we making it more difficult than it needs to be?  What I mean is, are we following the next big thing, and the next and the next, or are we getting back to basics and doing the core work of the business – planning well, having disciplined processes in place, and holding leaders and the workforce accountable for results.

The Orlando Business Journal carried an article about four local businessmen who recently completed Ironman triathlons, a “grueling race in which athletes swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run 26.2 miles. Without a break.”

The interviews asked each executive to compare the work and commitment of preparing for such a race to the world of business, and they had some terrific thoughts I thought I would share….

Mark Freid, President and creative director of marketing and advertising firm Think Creative Inc.
“I know in the 13 years of running my business that being able to persevere even when things don’t go as planned is the key to survival, much less success. I also know that in business, as in life, the better you prepare, the better the experience and the more likely you are to succeed.”

Patrick Chapin, President and CEO of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.
“I have learned the body can go much farther than your mind thinks it can. Like anything — public speaking, a big presentation, etc. — if you listen to any negative thoughts, it will impact your performance. Once you learn to overcome those thoughts, you accomplish much more than you ever thought you could, and that is very empowering.

Success does not come without hard work. Whether work or a race, it is imperative to learn to overcome your fears and doubts. You always should have a plan, be optimistic, play by the rules and, most importantly, enjoy what you do.”

Miguel de Arcos, Managing director at Sperry Van Ness Florida Commercial Real Estate Advisors
“It takes a long time, a lot of hard work and the willingness to do the things most others aren’t to achieve your goal.

Busy people don’t have the time; they make the time. There are a million excuses why we can’t do things, so you have to get that out of your head. There are a finite amount of productive work hours during the day, so I constantly am rearranging my schedule to balance work, training and family. Using goal-setting techniques was key, as well.”

David McDaniel, president of Integra Land Co.
[On the correlation between Ironman and business]“They are similar in the fact that discipline and commitment are essential for both. Once you commit to do something, whether in business or athletics, be disciplined to do it.

Business, like the Ironman, is a marathon and not a sprint. You will go through times when things are good and times when you struggle, but in the end, you will persevere.”

Here’s what I take from their advice…prepare well, overcome negative thoughts, work hard, don’t make excuses, find the time to do what’s important, have a disciplined approach, commit to achievement, be optimistic, persevere.

I’d say this is pretty good advice for getting back to the basics in business, wouldn’t you?


Carol Anderson
Carol Anderson
CAROL is the founder and Principal of Anderson Performance Partners, LLC, a business consultancy focused on bringing together organizational leaders to unite all aspects of the business – CEO, CFO, HR – to build, implement and evaluate a workforce alignment strategy. With over 35 years of executive leadership, she brings a unique lens and proven methodologies to help CEOs demand performance from HR and to develop the capability of HR to deliver business results by aligning the workforce to the strategy. She is the author of Leading an HR Transformation, published by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2018, which provides a practical RoadMap for human resource professionals to lead the process of aligning the workforce to the business strategy, and deliver results, and writes regularly for several business publications.

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  1. Great points Carol….I would add Enjoy The Journey. This is something that so many miss because they get stressed out about meeting the goal. There is so much joy in the journey, if you take the time daily to enjoy it. The best lesson I have ever had to really understand this is when we bought a convertible several years ago. We quickly discovered that the best part of our drive to a destination was the actual journey getting there…..the sun, the music, the scenery, etc. It has served for years as a way to understand those business journey’s. Sometimes we take a wrong turn and we simply enjoy the new scenery and find either a new way to get there, or figure out a way to get back on track. We are never in a rush because we know we will get to the destination and thoroughly enjoy the “ride”.