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.

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Grouse Grind Triple: Brought to You by the Numbers 47 and 80

Over the last two seasons of the Grouse Grind I have met some wonderful people who are also in the unofficial multi-grind group. The over forty people of all ages who are in this group complete at least two grinds in one day or more on a regular basis. I was inducted into this club when I finished my first double grind last year.

The support and accomplishments of this group inspired me to take on a “Triple Grind,” or three climbs in one day. September 3rd, 2011 I challenged my mind and body to this challenging task which would also mean finishing my 80th of all time.

Preparation

I have been talking about this day and planning it for several weeks. Letting others know of my plans really meant that I was accountable and couldn’t shy away from it. A massage therapy session on Friday calmed my nerves and helped loosen up my hips, lower-back, legs and diaphragm in preparation. The day before I set out my strategy and made sure I had one energy gel every to ingest at 30 min for each climb and one cliff bar in-between. To hydrate I filled my water bottles with water, one Nuun tablet and glutamine to replenish my electrolytes and reduce any muscle breakdown.

Due to a later night I had to start one hour later than I anticipated, sunny weekends, especially long weekends are busy times at Grouse. While chatting with some tourists on the bus up they asked me how fast I do the Grind and how often I do it in a week. Though they seemed impressed by 40 minutes and three times per week, little did they know my plans for a triple!

Wishing them all the best for the day, we parted ways so that I could go to the washroom to change and put my heart rate monitor on.

Transition

It was nearly go time when I ran into Oliver and Mark, two other multi-grinders as I was dropping of my bag to the back check (one benefit of using the timer card). They gave me words of encouragement which helped bolster my belief that I could actually do it.

Grouse Mountain staff have a large drawer full of bag check cards with a couple of hundred of numbers on them, today they pulled out no. 47!



I am not usually superstitious, however 47 is my family’s lucky number. I smiled and thought excitedly to myself “this really is going to be the day to finish three.”

Climb Number One

What limits us more in physical pursuits, our mind or our body? Knowing that this was my first climb of three I didn’t set out on a blistering pace, but went at what I thought was a moderate pace that I could sustain. Every once in awhile I checked into my breath to make sure that it wasn’t out of control and looked at my heart rate to ensure it was around 160 bpm, which is 15 bpm below my anaerobic threshold. The painted quarter markers provide a good sense of pace and a place of encouragement. Passing the first one in 10:30 min, I felt pretty good. Near the half you point a I passed this guy who decided to be my shadow all the way to the top, despite giving him every opportunity I could to pass me, including staying as far right as I could, he just couldn’t manage it.

When my timer chimed 30 minutes, I tore open the pack of Cliff gel vanilla and gradually sucked it empty while still keeping my feet going one in front of the other. These a couple of swigs of water washed some of the sweetness away. Despite really wanting to push and shake this guy off, I was able to clear my head enough to stay focused on a steady pace finishing in 43:52 minutes; just a little bit slower than my average time. So far on pace for three sub 50 minute climbs.

After retrieving my bag I head to the washroom to change my shirt. In between climbs I had about 4oz of Nuun water and one cliff bar. I knew that if I had too much rest time between each ascent I wouldn’t make it number three. Also, leaving my bag up top added a little extra incentive.

To view climb #1 – click here

Climb Number Two

This was one the one where I wasn’t sure of how to pace myself because I really didn’t want to empty the fuel tank and not have enough for the third. There is a 3-4 minute section from the gate to the big warning sign that I use as a gauge to see how my body is feeling. Words of self-doubt started to creep in and I wondered if I was crazy to be attempting three. Then I remembered all those people who would be asking if I had done it and how great it would feel to accomplish this goal.

The trail was more crowded than on the first climb, but still manageable. There more tourists stopping at the blue signs to take photos and few people sitting in the middle of trail resting. Just like the little engine that could, I was the “mountain goat that could.

I broke this mission down into manageable parts, thinking that once I hit the ½ mark, I would be only 1.5 more climbs. The count down in time, elevation and ascents really helped. also figured that since I finished Seek the Peak (16 km and 4000 ft) in just over 2hrs that I could easily finish today. The second climb of my first double I felt quite dizzy and almost needed to stop. This time was different. I crested the top to see the finish timer and sprinted to swipe my card – 48:24, average hear rate 151 bpm.

With the sun out I decided to some dynamic hip, low-back and leg stretching on the grass before my last climb. Sometimes if I stretch or shift in the right way I can get my scarum to release, which actually gives me some relief and little more movement in my hips, Theses stretches are important to reduce any joint compression and length any fascia and muscles that have been shortened during the previous climbs. It turned out to be the pivotal break my body ns seeded.

To view climb #2 click here

Climb Number Three

I was eager to start because I knew it was my final climb of the day and I could push my pace in some places. At 11:40 AM, the trail was really starting to get busy with many groups starting. My legs felt light at the beginning and my mind was all fired up ready to get my body to the top. Even though I wanted do this one for time, I also wanted to finish. Time takes care of itself, we don’t have any influence over it. What do have influence is on the process of whatever we are pursuing.

This last one was all about getting to the top, the rest was gravy. Hitting the timer after first quarter, I noticed 11:14 minutes, on pace for around 45 minutes at that time. As I continued to climb the trail became more congested. Long weekends around noon are not great times to be trying to set personal records that are time based. There were people littered all over the trail, sometimes not unknowingly stepping right in front of me; just like driving – stick to the right unless passing. There was one younger gentleman who looked like he was going to pass, then held back.

After about a minute of this, I decided to accelerate just to get passed him. There were several places where traffic jams almost put me at a complete stop; if I stopped, I might not get going again. The trick was to find a safe path around the gaggle of people without forcing them to move suddenly, which would make it unsafe. I saved the Hammer Espresso with 50mg of a caffeine for the 20min mark of the last climb. Delightful.

There were moments of speed that lasted only 30 – 40 seconds then my legs wouldn’t pick up anymore. Surprisingly there were only a few spots where I miss-stepped losing my footing momentarily. The second and third quarter were completed in 11:55 and 11:56 minutes, respectively; these were very even times. When my watch chimed 40 minutes during the fourth quarter I knew I could finish this one in less than 50 minutes.

It was only the last 5-10 minutes where I really felt my body getting ready to give in. The last set of stairs before the rocks, where you can either go steeply up or around to the left then right arrived more quickly than I chuckled and smiled to myself “you have to be kidding.” When I step on the rocks, I know the finish is really close. My excitement rose as I bounded through this next section, scrambled over the rock face to see the finish time in my view. Pushing myself a little bit more to the finish timer I swiped my card and stopped my watch. Astonished I read “47:24.”

To view climb #3 click here.

Celebration

All three climbs in less than 50 minutes and one of my season goals completed. Yes! Yes! Yes! Booyah! Now it was time to get a chicken burger and a chocolate milk to enjoy the glory on the deck overlooking Vancouver. One of the things I really enjoy about Grouse Mountain is the view of the city from the top as well as on the gondola ride. There is nothing quite like it to help you appreciate where we live.

What is next? A business coach asked me once, “What is the goal beyond the goal?” I still have a 35 minute single climb and 100 climbs overall to finish by the end of the season. Happy trails!

Replenishing Electrolytes with Coconut Water

Replenshing electrolytes is an important part of endurance training recovery. Electrolytes are important to maintain proper cellular function, something I wasn’t entirely clear about when competing in Biathlon.

Headaches and extreme fatigue were often side-effects of intense biathlon or cross-country skiing events. Sleep, Advil and plenty of water were my solutions to combat being “not hydrated enough” burden of pain. Post-competition naps would often last a couple of hours and after waking up I still didn’t feel too well.

Worried about increasing the intensity of training and suffering again I decided that another solution was needed. If I am to train between clients or before a full day of seeing clients I knew I needed another solution than just water. During competition years people and coaches would often tell me I wasn’t hydrated enough, even though I knew I was. My recovery strategy wasn’t working for me.

In the mid-90s we started to experiment with our recovery drink solutions that included various concentrations of sugar, salt, lemon, water and powdered milk for protein. More sugar was added for post-race recovery. Another strategy I used was eating half a bag full of bread after each race. As a senior biathlete I was racing 10km one day and 20km the following day, not an easy task to recover from.

It took until a couple of weeks ago to find a way to avoid the headaches and the extreme fatigue following each training session. A blog post about marathon training lead be back to trying to concoct my own electrolyte drink with something that is more natural such as coconut water along with other ingredients including tart cherry concentrate which is rich in anti-oxidants.

I have tried several other electrolytes mixes such as eLoad and tablets as well as the pre-mixed drinks with minimal success. Coconut water is a natural way to restore potassium, magnesium and sodium after exercise without any preservatives. It has about half the carbohydrates, Powerade or Gatorade. Accelerade was another I tried because it the protien was supposed to help with carbohydrate uptake. Including protien in the 30 minutes post-exercise enhances muscle repair.

While browsing the isles of Whole Foods I discovered Blue Monkey instant coconut water, a powder that you just add 500ml of water too (700 ml for my tastes). The small packets make it easy to carry and mix into water bottles.

During the V(02)max interval sessions and Pace Zone 3 sessions I drink it every 15 minutes without the abdominal gas I get when drinking something like Powerade or even e-Load. Although eLoad Heat is slightly more expensive than Blue Monkey Powder I find it more effective. Certainly cheaper, more natural and more environmentally friend than buying a bottle of Powerade everytime you go out for a run.

Although my headaches are gone post-exercise, cognitive fatigue depressive symptoms and physical fatigue still exists for a few hours if I don’t have adequate carbohydrates in the 30 minutes just after a moderate or intense training session. Drinking one packet around 4:00 PM also helps keep me mentally alert for my last two clients. Proper exercise recovery is a process of experimenting and finding out what restores your energy without making you feel ill or bloated.

To expermiment with different sources first purchase small quantities to see how you feel after ingesting it and how your energy is. Then add this information to a trainng log such as training peaks so that you are able to review it later.
My goal is to find a strategy so that the rest of the day after training is still productive. Nutrition and hydration are part of the plan. How do you recover and stay mentally productive after intense or long duration training?

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.