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How Fitness Made Me a Better Entrepreneur

Training for an Ironman triathlon made me a better business professional, friend, and family member.

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I’ve previously written about the role that physical fitness plays in being a well-rounded business professional. And in a COVID world where many of us don’t get out as much or where we’re expected to be plugged into our work technology around the clock, this rings more true now than ever.

Committing to a physical fitness goal and being a successful business professional can be mutually reinforcing endeavors. In order to understand why, let’s look at four key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and compare them to those who commit to setting and achieving their physical fitness goals. I’ll use the sport of triathlon as an example, but these characteristics apply to anyone willing to invest in their physical and mental well-being through fitness:

Courage

Entrepreneurs are bold and daring. They’re not afraid to tackle something new and venture outside of their comfort zones. They certainly aren’t deterred by the risks of failure, and there are often real financial, emotional, and health risks associated with starting a business.

Similarly, participation in triathlons means being adept at swimming, biking and running, not to mention being knowledgeable on the fourth and fifth sports of nutrition and proper recovery. Even if you were a world-class collegiate swimmer, a Tour de France cyclist or accomplished marathoner, chances are that you’re going to have to work at becoming proficient in the other disciplines. It’s going to be hard and you’ll likely look like a fool at times (just watch yours truly in the swimming pool!), but in the end the juice will be worth the squeeze.

Resilience

Entrepreneurs know all too well that the path towards starting and scaling a business is filled with emotional highs and lows, the likes of which can take a toll on our physical and emotional well-being. Being tenacious and resilient in the face of adversity is critical for the undeterred visionary.

Similarly, competing in triathlons means tackling a day filled with swimming, biking and running and not every leg of the race will go well. Not being discouraged by a bad swim performance, a flat tire, or a meltdown on the run is crucial to finishing the event and accomplishing your goals.

In business and in endurance sports, we train and hope for the best, but we’re always prepared to deal with the worst.

Discipline

Following a regimented schedule that creates focus can be challenging as an entrepreneur, and work-life integration always come naturally.

Endurance athletes understand this idea all too well. Training several hours each week for a race, on top of professional, personal and family obligations, means eliminating waste in our schedules and constantly finding ways to optimize our time. Workouts are planned weeks in advance and meticulous attention is given towards how each workout fits within a well-planned training schedule that might extend months or years into the future. Just as athletes schedule in rest to physically and mentally recover and rebuild, so do the best entrepreneurs. The mind of an entrepreneur should be treated like the body of an athlete: schedule in the right amount of rest in order to come back to work fresh and invigorated. When you carve out time for rest and recovery, you’re able to come back and work smarter than before.

Confidence

Starting a business requires a leap of faith. There are sure to be numerous moments of doubt, hesitation and fear alongside the tremendous joys associated with achieving one’s goals. It takes confidence to turn down a high-paying and more stable corporate career to follow your entrepreneurial pursuits. And you need confidence to put your reputation, financial capital, physical and emotional well-being on the line.

Similarly, triathletes must develop self-confidence. You will run into challenges and have to face your worst fears, whether you’re a pro or a beginner. Overcoming those doubts starts with silencing your inner critic, and learning to reframe your negative self-talk.

In my own experience, I’ve found that the confidence I’ve developed from launching a businesses fuels my ability in endurance sports, and vice versa. When I’m faced with a challenging business situation, I recall how I taught myself to swim, bike and run and with the help of some amazing friends, coaches and loved ones, completed an Ironman triathlon. I tell myself that if I could do that, then I can do anything.

Ironman Finish Line

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