How to Achieve Business Goals Like an Olympian

Throughout the London 2012 Olympics, which are heading into their second week we have witnessed feats of extreme dedication and human drive. These athletes have not become overnight successes, many toil  for a decade or more in their sports before finishing on the podium. What they do have in common is the intense desire to achieve success and the knowledge that this is their time to shine, to lay it all on the line.

How can we harness the same dedication, perseverance and patience to achieve our own entrepreneurial goals?

Start with a Long-Term Plan – Finish with Today’s Plan

I remember starting my business with plan which had the next 3-5 years outlined with specific steps and performance measures. This is very similar to the way high performance athletes train. Each Olympic cycle is called a quadrennial, which is broken down into smaller and smaller segments until the details for each training day are specified. Do the same with your business. How often are you taking the time to sit-down, review, adjust and plan?

Find the Internal Flame

Find an intrinsic reason to reach your goal. This will light the fire within that will burn no matter what others say or which obstacles you come across because it can’t be put out! It took Brent Hayden three Olympics to stand on the podium, that is 12 years. Since he was young double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius has had an intense desire to run in the Olympics; Friday he did and reached the semi-finals of the 400m in Track and Field! Having a meaningful reason for reaching your business goals keeps you motivated.

Set Performance Goals

Athletes set performance based goals, not results based.  To reach the Olympics athletes must meet specific performance criteria to qualify in events preceding. In a business goals of $X income or $Y profit (which are results) need to be broken down into what needs to be done on a daily basis to achieve them. For example how many widgets do need to sold or how many clients need to booked or called?

Be in it for the Long Haul – Celebrate Everyday Wins

Olympians don’t step onto the field of play without years of dedication to their sport. Entrepreneurs need be in it for the long haul. Starting and growing a business is not for the faint of heart, but it has been the most enjoyable part of my working life.

Sure, some businesses launch and have tremendous success early on, then they burn and crash like those rockets we made as kids. Instead ride a the wind like a kite. Keep your hands on the string, but as the winds change learn to change strategies with it so that you can soar for as long as possible.  Each day has at least one success; smile and celebrate it! Be patient, long-term success is much more rewarding.

Do Just Enough with Appropriate Volume and Intensity

Olympians do put a lot of effort into their training, however there is always a balance between stressing the body enough through training for it to both physically and mental adapt and incorporating appropriate recovery strategies. Entrepreneurs need to do the same to avoid mentally breaking down; they are notorious for neglecting vacation time.

There will be times in business when you have to do more work to get a project completed or launch new producted but, with appropriate planning you can add periods of recovery after these intense and volume laden times. Pushing too hard each day in training often leads to over training or injury which sets athletes back weeks or even months. The art is to do just do enough to keep the momentum rolling so that the joy remains.


Keep it Simple

Business growth always adds complexity. Greater complexity adds to the mental strain so, keep examining your business to create more simplicity.

How to Combine Strategy and Tactics to Achieve Success

Are you having trouble thinking because of all the noise? Often we get so stuck in the noise of doing that our minds become so clouded and foggy that we no longer know why we are doing what are doing or understand if what we are doing has any positive bearing on achieving our goals.

An over-abundance of inputs such as our cell phone, emails, phone calls, knocks on our office doors, social media sites and in my case the noise of people in the gym combined with the overhead drone of satellite music without the time to process leads to an overbearing number of inputs, feelings of being overwhelmed and then a system crash (burnout). Setting aside time to review goals, strategy and tactics is important to achieving sustained success.

My friend recently posted the following philosophical and inspirational quote from Sun Tzu :

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”

How often do you take time to review, goal set, evaluate tactics and strategize? Find time to turn off the inputs to figure out what outputs to need be met to achieve victory.

A strategy is the plan for achieving our goals, while tactics combines the art with skill of employing a available resources and are the means to accomplishing our goal. Firstly, Sun Tzu is implying that having a plan is only part of achieving our goals and reaching victory.

Secondly, it is important to clearly know what resources are available and understand how those resources can best be implemented to execute our plan. Victory is often assured by aligning our goals, strategy and tactics.

For example it makes absolutely no sense to have a great employee without knowing what they are best at, nor does it make sense to have a plan that doesn’t implement their strengths to help achieve business objectives. Tactics could also be financial resources – a fantastic marketing plan with all the bells and whistles could sound great, but the cash might not be available. Try adjusting the marketing strategy so that it still meets the business objectives while matching the available resources.

Victory is more likely to happen when there is plan, but Sun Tzu is saying that without adequate resources victory will be slow to arrive. On the other hand having all the best resources without a plan to implement them will in the end leave you confused and defeated by all the noise. There is also an art in knowing when to use the appropriate resource.

9 Steps to Victory: Align Goals, Strategy and Tactics

  1. Set the Goal – clearly define what is to be achieved.
  2. Evaluate and List – resources needed versus resources available
  3. Define the strategy to achieve the goals.
  4. Define the tactics to implement the plan.
  5. Set target interim dates and mini goals to evaluate progress towards achieving the goal.
  6. Adjust 1 – 4 as the situation changes, new resources become available or the environment changes.
  7. Figure out what you next action is. Do it.
  8. Repeat until the bigger goal has been achieved.
  9. Celebrate the Victory!

Each week take some time to unplug yourself from all the inputs to review your goals, measure your progress, re-evaluate and then adjust your strategy.

What do you do ensure victory? What do you do stop the noise and unplug?

Need some help with goal setting from high level to lower level next actions? Read David Allen’s 6 Horizon’s of Focus from Getting Things Done.

Banishing Depression with Energy Management

Last year I discovered that the instesinty of my depression related to my mindset and how I managed my energy. This year I am getting unstuck from letting my work get in the way of my physical training. In 2011 I am taking a very different approach to training for Seek the Peak and the Grouse Grind while maintaining a busy Kinesiology practice.

In November I really started to monitor various volumes and intensities of exercise with how tired or depressed I felt afterwards. My depression symptoms were clearly related to how much training stress, how much work stress I was under, how much exercise I did and how much I reconnected with the outdoors. In the summer I discovered trail running and this winter I am snowshoeing.

If I had not balanced the high fatigue days with proper recovery strategies including nutrition and recovery or off days my symptoms would become worse. Last year I thought depression was something “I had to live with for the rest of my life.” Not so, it can easily be managed. It is not a life-sentence; I know believe that my depression is gone. When I feel the symptoms I know it is time to down regulate my stress a variety of ways including alternate nasal breathing, Yoga, a recovery walk, nutrition, stretching, a day off, vacation, more sleep and/or the infrared sauna.

When I look at my work schedule it is clear that most Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually full 10 hour days while I have been able to carve more time on Mondays and Wednesdays. Fridays and the weekend have less going on so that it is possible to complete more fatigue inducing training on those days and have a bit more space to recover before getting back to writing, business development and spending time with family and friends.

During the week there is a lot of fluctuation in terms of demands and scheduling, so my workout times are slightly less rigid. Though, I will always find time to fit a training session in. Anything that requires more creativity or detailed work I need to do it in the morning when my mind is clear; this means a training session before lunch. Lunch is a perfectly timed hour when I can replenish my mind and body. When 1:00 PM rolls around I am ready to tackle what needs to be done. The confidence gained from completing each training session keeps me happy and energized.

These days I am focused on managing my energy by finding ways to keep it consistent and at its peak, this included getting off the stress train of caffeine. It has now been over two weeks since I quit drinking coffee. Too much stress was contributing to my depression.

Do you manage your time or your energy? Too much stress, including exercise stress combined with poor nutrtion makes depression symptoms worse. Reduce stress by being flexible with your exercise times and quantity to stay on track with your fitness goals. For example if your day went side-ways and you couldn’t go for your 45 min walk at noon, but you have time and energy for only 20 minutes in the evening go do it, because you still receive many health benefits.

6 Lessons Learned from Being Overworked and Overwhelmed

Are you feeling overwhelmed and overworked as an entrepreneur? During a break in August, I learned six lessons to prevent burnout that are easy for you to implement. Entrepreneurs have the deepest internal desire for their businesses to succeed and will naturally do anything to make it so. Doing anything and everything doesn’t always lead to smart decisions that help us attain the lifestyle we intended to achieve by being business owners nor joy that we started our businesses with.

After six months of working five to seven days a week, I noticed that I no longer enjoyed what I was doing. Clear signs of burnout started when the desire to do the things necessary to run my business just wasn’t there. In other words, my discipline and decision making skills were lacking. The passion and enthusiasm my employees had for our company mission had dried up. I was also suffering more depressive episodes, which I noticed when I woke up with less motivation to rise and go to work or even run the Grouse Grind.
In athletic training terms, I had over-trained. At this time I was also feeling like a typical entrepreneur and believed that I had to do everything. Yet, as E-Myth and others describe entrepreneurs, we are the visionaries. We need to surround ourselves with others who are ready and capable to execute.
Sometimes athletes take up to six months to recover from over-training. My business was not in a self-sustaining mode at that moment, but changes had to be made. The first steps were two mini four-day vacations at the end of June and July.
Looking in late June, I could tell that by the first week of August my team was going to be in place and many of our clients were going to be on holiday. This is when I booked my first full week off in a long time, because I missed my traditional two weeks at Christmas due to preparation for the Olympics.
The week off wasn’t as restorative as I anticipated because:
1. It took me four days to unwind.
2. I had to ensure that my team had enough activities to keep them occupied and productive. So, I did invest a few hours mentoring each of my employees.

3. I needed to complete July month-end activities that others were not capable of doing.
During this break I had time to reflect and make a few discoveries. Even though the week didn’t go entirely as planned, I did rediscover my passion for writing and sharing my knowledge with others. Also, the business sustained itself during this time because my employees took good care of it.
Six Lessons I learned:
1. To pre-book holidays every 4-6 months or I will book clients in during those days.
2. When you have a great team in place, the business will be okay without you for a few days.
3. Book vacations when there are no activities that “I have to do” or at least figure out a way to delegate them.
4. Be disciplined about your recovery. Recovery is part of being sustainable. Not everything has to be done by Friday!
5. When I start to feel down and depressed, I am overworked. I will honour this signal and add more recovery time.
6. Find your passion. Honour yourself and your passion. One of mine is writing. When I mentioned to my clients that I want to write a book, they were as enthusiastic about it as I was!
I rearranged my schedule for the fall so that I am not with clients on Fridays, but still have the flexibility to mix in business development activities with physical activities such as the Grouse Grind and in the winter cross country skiing and snowshoeing.
What are you doing to prevent yourself from becoming a burnt out entrepreneur?

Being OK with Sold Out

Today I had to tell someone there would be a two-week wait for an assessment because her limited time choices were not available. In the past, instead of holding my ground and sticking to my booking schedule, which does have other openings, I would have extended my day into the evening just to accommodate her. She decided to think about the assessment further before committing to a time that was on her day off. As a service professional and entrepreneur, I am learning to be okay with, “Sold Out”. As entrepreneurs we are in control of our own schedules and energy levels; this control is one reason I started my own business.
Health professionals have this deep desire to help everyone. Each time I speak with a potential new client, I feel empathy for their pain and feel their sense of urgency to reduce the amount of pain they are in and improve their functional capacity. However, what good am I to anyone if I myself am physically or mentally ill, or miserable and worn out?
I am still learning how to monitor my energy and the demands for my time. I have gone through cycles of being highly accommodating by booking clients during my own exercise times, as well as booking sessions into the late evening, just because I felt these clients “needed me,” to regaining a sense of balance and happiness that best suits me, so I give my peak performance during each session.

Part of managing my schedule and energy has been being clear with what time of day I am best at activities that require creativity versus those requiring detail, mathematics or logic. I have also learned how many sessions I can handle in a row, day or week. This means being okay with being “Sold Out”, telling people that I am booking for next week and keeping true to my own needs to maintain my physical, mental and emotional well being.
Being “Sold Out” or having a waiting list is something to be proud of, not something to mope about. It is a sign that you are doing something right, that you found a niche that needs to be filled and that you are in high demand. If you want to connect with and affect more people, try leveraging your time and expertise a little differently, such as hiring an assistant to pass on your knowledge to or write an e-book. Maybe you could teach a course/webinar or do group sessions. After all, there are only 24 hours in the day.
By looking at your schedule, booking time for yourself into each day and then placing everything else around you, you will be able to maintain your own standards, passion for your business and prevent burn-out. Be okay with Sold Out.

Seeking the Peak: Taking Time to Regenerate and Prevent Burn-Out

All right. We are closing in on the middle of week 3 of my training for “Seek the Peak” on July 4, 2010. The journey thus far has not been easy. I am still in recovery from my Olympic experience and am integrating back into a more regular work schedule.

Prior to the Olympics I was seeing clients six days a week, with little time to train or put into business development. This was meant to make up for the time I’d be away from clients during the two-week break for the Olympics. I also booked appointments from 10 AM to 4 PM on days between my shifts at Whistler Olympic Park.

This schedule was wearing me out and making me less motivated to attend to clients, my needs, the needs of my family and the needs of my business. It also put Lifemoves on something similar to a simmer, where we were content do things “as is” because it was working. This was opposite of the standards I put forward in my head.

A part of physical training that is often forgotten is regeneration. If you forget about recovery and taking breaks, you will end up burning out in business or over-training. Some of the symptoms are general malaise, lack of appetite and lack of motivation. Coming back on March 1, I felt that my time was in as high demand as it was in January. I had several new clients and not much time to get them integrated or to take care of our current clients.

Getting into a depressive state is something I am highly aware of, so I know when to use strategies to turn those moods around. After the excitement and energy burn of the Olympics, along with working 6-7 days per week, I found that I felt general malaise, I was unmotivated, I was paying less attention to detail and was not delivering what I was capable of. This required a big shift in scheduling and my use of energy. I now think more in terms of energy management rather than time management and I incorporate regeneration strategies.

I could feel myself slowly starting to slip into a possible depressive episode. I knew this had to change so, at the beginning of March, I set a goal of racing Seek the Peak in July. I altered my work schedule and took greater control of my sleep cycles.

Part of what I discovered and am now paying close attention to, is how much energy I have and the maximum work loads I can handle before I need a break. I am in control of my schedule and my commitments. I can say no as easily as I can say yes.

Moving forward from April, I am looking at the number of hours I work on a daily basis as well as my total during the week (In athletic training, this is called Total Volume). Carl Pederson, Physiotherapist, once said in a workshop to “incorporate recovery” every day; this includes physical, mental, emotional and nutritional recovery.

I started the past few weeks with physical recovery, e.g., stretching, light cardio and getting the proper amount of sleep. Tuesdays and Thursdays are long, full days with clients, so I train with light cardio, such as walking and stretching. The other five days of training are more intense and every four weeks I take a recovery week with less volume and less intensity. Every eight weeks I am also adding a massage.

This week, I am working on my nutritional recovery strategies which I will cover in another post. When considering emotional recovery, think about investing time in family and friends, reading a book or perhaps doing something spiritual. I am finding that doing something physical that I enjoy also connects me with my emotional recharging.

After each bout of training, I feel invigorated, happy and proud that I accomplished one more training session.

Remember, take time to add recovery to every day. Take breaks away from work, turn off your phone/Blackberry. Get off the grid for a little while. Have a nutritious, mindful snack. Manage and treat your body properly and it will perform at its peak.