Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life
“You’re at 167”
That number is almost unbelievable to me. I weigh 167 pounds. Two years ago, to the week, I weighed 211 pounds with 26% body fat (now down to 18%). In 24 months I have lost 20% of myself. When I first started cycling it was to manage my depression, but as I focused on my rides, I found not only mental health but physical health as well.
So, what does weight loss have to do with being an entrepreneur?
After numerous failed attempts to get fit over the years, what made the difference for me this time was a commitment to the right end goal, something that has also served me in my work.
When I mentioned my stunning results to my cycling trainers, they both had a similar response, “you did the right things to get there over the right amount of time.”
I now see that in the past, I was focused on the wrong time frame (I wanted results now) and the wrong expectations (I wanted to lose weight). What worked for me this time around was to make a commitment to doing the right things over the right time to achieve the right outcomes.
You can apply this same framework to starting and building a business, reinvigorating a company, or creating your best life. I call it the Four Ps of Entrepreneurship.
- The Plan is critical. You need to set the right goal with a reasonable timeframe. In my case, rather than losing weight, this time I focused on changing my body composition (overall fitness) and worked on one-year outcomes (the right metrics). In business, I think we get distracted by short-term numbers and results and veer away from the long-term outcome that matters. We often fall off track and end up not making any progress toward what is most meaningful to us. That short sightedness creates the wrong perspective. And we lose heart. With a meaningful goal and a reasonable timeline you can start with the right plan.
- The Process is all about doing the right things regularly. With my fitness plan, I scheduled a specific number of cycling hours, strength and mobility hours (painful hours), and hiking time each and every week. At the same time I put in place a measurement system to monitor all of my progress. My weeks and months were all scheduled to follow a process. And it worked. Each quarter I saw regular and gradual improvement. With your company, moving to your goal should also be gradual. You can work backwards from your goal to the system of actions you need to invest in regularly to get you to the outcome that matters to you. This is not about milestones but rather the actions you take each and every week, rain or shine, to move your business forward. The processes you put in place and consistently follow for sales, product development, operations, and (please say it with me) financials will make or break your ability to succeed. Innovation is wonderful but without a supporting process nothing will happen.
- The People is all about surrounding yourself with those who will help you achieve your end goal – with the right skills, time and personality. For me, I needed a trainer that was a specialist in cycling and could invest private time with me. And I wanted a further trainer who would push me on the road – when it was raining and I was whining. Plus, a great physiotherapist who could help with the pain. Personality is big for me. I need to relate well to someone to work with them. Working with someone is about a building relationship, and there has to be a good connection. To get to your business goal, you need the right people around you. It starts with identifying the essential skill sets you need and then working out how to access them (hiring or contracting). Interviews are crucial to figure out the fit. I have hired the ‘perfect’ candidate in the past to find out they weren’t the right person. The people part is the key to your ability to do what you do best so invest time to find the ones that make the difference.
- The Persistence is about staying on track and, despite the cold and sleet, getting out there and doing it. When I started cycling, I could never understand why people had to exercise even when they were sick or it was raining out. There were many days and rides where I didn’t feel good and questioned why I was doing this. A friend told me to “embrace the pain.” There will always be points when you just want to stop. But one day something clicked for me. A switch flipped and I was getting on the bike because I wanted to and not because I felt I had to. I found rain is fine if you’re dressed right. Riding in freezing temperatures can actually be fun. There is no surprise in applying this analogy to starting your business. You will have many days where you just want to give up. It doesn’t seem worth it. But with the right goal to work toward, using the right system of actions, supported by the right people, you keep getting back up and moving forward. And it happens.
There are as many complexities to starting up a business and turning it into a company as there are with becoming physically fit. But I think we can get lost in making it too complicated and miss the path that leads you to achieving your ultimate goals.
I have many more kilometres to go on the bike and more milestones to meet. Just as I have a much longer runway ahead of me with my new business. But what I want to achieve is clear, and I am making sure that the right path, process, and people are in place. My persistence is without question.
Rain, snow, sleet or sun, you are the one who will decide if two or five years from now you are standing right where you want to be.