2 February 2014
There is no doubt about it, UKFast certainly lives up to her name. Fast by name and fast by nature. I was recently asked how we have achieved so much in such a short time? It doesn’t feel that short, yet I think we are coming up to our 15th anniversary. There are many businesses who have achieved more in a shorter space of time, yet none that I can think of with such limited resources.
What’s the secret?
I think the best analogy is when I compare different athletes. A sprinter works in short bursts. They require breaks in between as they expend all their energy over a very short distance. A long distance runner takes the edge off their speed and paces themselves for the arduous journey ahead. At school, I loved fell running. I was never the fastest, but I could run for miles and miles. The most important aspect to remember is breaking down the race into smaller parts so you can measure your progress. The other critical aspect is to measure your performance levels, so you can track your progress through time.
I love the British Cycling team’s attitude. I heard Rebecca Romero and Sarah Storey talk and they said, “I hate being ill… missing training because you are unwell doesn’t mean a lie in, it means you have extra to make up for when you are better.” They look at training as a collective and then it’s up to you how you break it down. This is the mantra of a winning team.
Business is very much like that. You have projects and deadlines to hit, but you only have a finite amount of time, so why would you waste any?
I hate long meetings and have always scheduled my sales meetings before the day starts. If people are late, we don’t let them in. They soon get the message. Ultimately I treat a meeting like a journey on a train. The train sets off promptly at the agreed time and those who want to come on the journey with me make the effort to be there. Every minute of every day is like ‘race time’, you don’t see Formula 1 racing drivers pull over half way through the race to ring their mum, have a cigarette break or stop to discuss an HR issue. Well a business is no different. The more seriously you take your own time and that of those around you, the more successful you are likely to be. I say likely because an organised and energetic nit-wit will probably fail.
The most important part of this formula is balance. Nature balances everything perfectly. You are either growing or dying. Nothing stands still. But just like the athlete and every living organism in nature, every living thing at some point needs rest.
This is the bit I used to be terrible at. I thought success was an attitude and that you had to work 20 hours a day and holidays were for wimps! How wrong I was, and actually its the opposite. Recuperation is key. Being able to stop and take a minute with your family, with a friend or just alone doing something you love is so important.
Today I got up at 5am, played 5/6 games of chess before the girls got up, spent time with the family before heading off to Wales and climbing Snowdon. This gave me a few hours to write a blog and unwind before either a game of squash later or a watch a film with the Mrs.
I know this probably sounds like some people’s hell, but believe me in a pacey environment, all of the above is necessary.
The best bit though are holidays. And with just days away from us leaving for the Indian Ocean to celebrate our anniversary and my avalanche survival, apart from some running, gym work and finishing a chapter or two of my book, I will be relaxing, I promise.