23 April 2018

George and his running team at the Brighton Marathon.

George and his running team at the Brighton Marathon.

What an extraordinary sight to see thousands of runners in blazing heat, racing over Tower Bridge earlier today.

The London Marathon is an epic challenge even on a grey day, never mind when it is the hottest on record. Amongst the runners were the usual fancy dress costumes, a knight in shining armour and local runner David Wyeth of Chorlton Runners who last year hit the headlines after faltering at the final stretch and being carried over the line by fellow runner Matthew Rees.

It was also the Patrouille des Glaciers in Switzerland – a 33 mile-long ski mountaineering challenge from Zermatt to Verbier that can take up to 8 hours to complete! Some of our friends have competed in both competitions this weekend and the commitment these individuals have shown is simply immense.

Seeing these incredible achievements, it’s not difficult to recognise the mammoth effort that goes into those finish line moments.

Sam at the finish line of the London Marathon.

Sam at the finish line of the London Marathon.

When you consider it, business is very much like a marathon, although perhaps a marathon that never ends! It’s an ongoing challenge between the mental and physical, constantly needing to adapt and grow. So how do you keep going?

Marathon milestones

Much like running the 26-mile route, clocking the milestones is essential in business. Taking note of the achievements along every stretch, celebrating and acknowledging the successes along the way invariably helps to keep you motivated.

If you set yourself a long- term goal, you absolutely have to break it down into smaller chunks. You could never go straight to Everest to climb to the top – you have to train to get there and that training involves breaking the challenge down: Completing a few Snowdon climbs in preparation for Everest.

Famous mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington CBE would use the Snowdonia Mountains to train for his epic climbs. I often use this analogy when looking at goals in business – it can be incredibly hard to remain motivated when looking ahead to a long -term goal.

When the horizon seems so far away and you’re not checking things off your list of achievements, it’s very easy to lose motivation. Instead, by clocking the milestones and ticking off these smaller goals, you are far more likely to achieve your ultimate aim. You would never be able to do 26 miles straight away. We’ve got to be in the mindset to reach the smaller goals and put in the long-term training to reach the big goal.

Train, train, train!

In both business and sport, you have to train, constantly. Of course, a marathon requires huge amounts of training and adaptation. To become good at anything you have to rehearse, to practice, to train, much like a marathon or, for me, like a chess game.

Years ago, I was regularly beaten at chess, it was frustrating to say the least. However, that became a motivator for me. Now, after years of practice, I no longer lose to the people I used to play. Interestingly though, chess is a game of percentages so statistically I likely lose more now.

In business, it’s the same. Whilst there is no manual for business that tells you what to do, there are people to learn from at every turn. Seek out the people you admire, who have a proven track record, and who you can learn from. Learn from your own mistakes along the way too – if you fail, get back up and keep moving.

At UKFast we put a huge focus on training and development across the whole team to ensure that they are always growing, developing and honing their skills.

darryl and lucy at the Manchester marathon

Darryl and Lucy at the Manchester marathon

This level of practice and training teaches you how to adapt – to break through you’ve got to go back to learn new skills. Having the hunger to keep learning and growing is essential.

Be ready to adapt

Just as the weather presented a change for the marathon runners today, there are constantly changing elements in business. Whilst the runners may have had a game plan, some of the racers came off the start line quickly and soon found that they had burnt out. They didn’t adapt their plans to accommodate the change in weather.

The same applies to business. If you go out too fast in business without an adaptable plan, you’ll find yourself in trouble in no time. Grow your skillset, learn from others and be ready to adapt to the changing landscape.

Health first

Of course, you could never complete a marathon without being in peak physical and mental condition, and business is no different. Looking after your overall wellbeing is essential if you are to be successful in any area of life.

Getting plenty of rest and eating well may seem like a simple piece of advice but it is invariably the foundation of any successful person.

A few years ago I would drink inordinate amounts of coffee and Red Bull to maintain my energy levels. However, as you get older you realise the importance of being able to stay consistent and as such I have not had a coffee in years.

Whilst caffeine or sugar may give you a temporary boost, it’s artificial and you will dip later in the day. It’s not good to come home at the end of the day completely exhausted. It’s as important to arrive home with the energy to contribute to the home and family, as it is to contribute in business.

Magic formula

Consistency and maintaining your good habits is key. I see so many business people do incredibly well, find their magic formula and then start to celebrate. Inevitably they take their eye off the ball. It’s amazing how easy it is to get out of the rhythm and things begin to slip.

Before finishing the post and preparing for the week ahead, I have to send a huge congratulations to a few of our team members who have completed marathons in the past couple of weeks. Sam, who ran the London Marathon today; Lucy and Darryl who ran the Manchester Marathon two weeks ago and George who ran the Brighton Marathon last weekend. We’ve all seen the level of commitment and training that you’ve put into crossing those finish lines and raising money for your chosen charities. Gail and I are incredibly proud of you.

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