Race day is tomorrow. Spent the last couple of days making the drive from Chicago to Augusta…saw some beautiful country through the Smoky Mountains…and more than a few hours on the phone. I have done a few of these kinds of races – lots of Olympic distance, and two 140.6 Ironman races (Arizona and Wisconsin). This is my first 70.3. Let me tell you…70.3 miles seems a LOT more reasonable than 140.6.
I still get nervous. Mostly because of the competition, and the desire to do my best. To do better than my best. It’s a pressure that many of us put on ourselves, and it’s less about failure than it is about following a plan.
When I was ready to do my first Ironman…I was a relative newbie to the sport. I trained when I could…and mostly what I liked most…or what felt comfortable to me. Bike more than run, run more than swim…and I hardly ever got in the pool. And that was for Olympic or International Distance events. I had no business gunning for an Ironman.
I got lucky. I took a new job and met a colleague who had done these before, and he asked me a very simple question, “What’s your race plan”? Wow. I had no answer. He fixed that for me…and to this day, I credit him for helping me not only cross the finish line…but to have done it while exceeding my own expectations. All he did was force me to think about what I wanted to do, and how I planned to do it.
I am not going to go into all of the components of what that plan was right now…maybe a later post. Rather, I would like to point out that having a plan isn’t just for running a great race. It’s a great way to manage your professional life as well. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact…it CAN”T be complicated.
Have a goal. Break down the steps you need to get from point A to point B. Take your time…and really think about what you are trying to do.
If you are trying to achieve a sales quota…what are the tools you have been given to achieve that number? How can you use them? What is the average deal size? How many calls will you have to make build a sufficient pipeline? How long is the sales cycle?
Do the work required to achieve your goal. A goal is meaningless if you haven’t prepared yourself to achieve your target. This is ON THE JOB TRAINING! If you know how many calls it will take to reach a buying customer…make the calls! Visit your customers…work on your pitch…improve your delivery. This is PRACTICE! I have met tons of “Relationship Sales Guys” that are incredibly likable, but have no desire (or are afraid) to expand their skillset/experience to evolve…they get stuck in one rut and never get out. Train…Train…Train.
Work the Plan. This is important. Creating the plan and then not following it is insane. but it happens ALL THE TIME!!! How many sales training courses have you taken, or deal progression workshops you have attended that requires a particular activity? It becomes the task “Du Jour”…but then it fades. Those activities FAIL if not incorporated into a plan…and if you do not WORK THE PLAN!
You have to commit. Trust your effort in creating the plan, the details you uncovered, the objectives you have set for yourself and tested with your colleagues. Commit to the plan and work the steps, week in – week out. Repetition is key.
Expect the Unexpected. Things happen, situations change and obstacles get thrown in your path. Expect that something will happen…and adjust. Don’t be so inflexible that you freeze when something unexpected occurs. Accept it and get past it.
The point is…success never just “happens”. Success occurs, usually after a lot of hard work. Maybe you get lucky and it rolls smooth…but I say, you put yourself in position to BE lucky if you work a plan.
Talking about this stuff is easy…doing the work required to create a plan is what takes a little discipline. However, once you have it…its pretty easy to follow it.
I’m going to take my own advice…I will write out my race day plan…and then I am going to follow it. Part of the excitement is how closely I can tie the plan to the result. Maybe I will kill it tomorrow, or maybe something absolutely unexpected will occur and will force me to adapt…How will that affect my time? I can’t wait.
Jillie…Wings and a beer at the Finish!