Manufacturing Excellence – Inspire, Lead and Succeed with a STRONG MIND!

“The miracle isn’t that I finished.
The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
~ John “The Penguin” Binham
Last weekend I accepted yet another challenge in my life, faced my fears, overcame them and made something that seemed to be so far out of reach a reality. I competed in my first Half Ironman race (1.9 k swim, 90 k bike ride, 21.2 k run) and I was able to complete this distance in 6 hours and 15 minutes. I certainly exceeded my own expectations, which made me realize that I may not have believed enough in my own abilities. I was capable of so much more than I have ever thought would be possible. 
How many times do you think this happens in the workplace? 
Originally my boyfriend Adrian signed me up for this race in Mont Tremblant, Quebec to share the experience of a long distance race together. At first I thought he was joking until he showed me the printed registration sheet. After a brief moment of shock and disbelief, I felt a strange mix of excitement and anxiety, and soon I started to map out a training plan that would help me accomplish this lofty goal.     
As a facilitator, trainer and coach, I firmly believe in 3 things (true in business and in life):
  • Authenticity: If you want to achieve something and have sustainable results, you must make it a lifestyle. Set your goals, be yourself, know your values, know your strengths, enjoy the process, live it every single day, inspire others, learn from your mistakes and develop into the best person you can possibly be. 
  • Self-Discipline: You get out what you put in and even if you progress slowly, you will leave the stage of mediocrity and gradually develop a mindset of excellence. Self-discipline is character building at its best.
  • Lead by example: Practice what you preach! I always talk about how important it is to set our mind on something that we want to achieve and it will be possible. What is better than accepting a physical challenge that requires a strong mind? 

Here is a brief race report about my personal experience and how I relate it to business:
As soon as I started the warm-up in the lake I felt that I would have a pretty good swim. I felt strong, I felt confident and I felt focused. We didn’t have a mass start and depending on gender and age, people were divided in 10 different waves. I observed the start of wave # 7 and I knew my wave would be next. In my wetsuit, white swim cap and goggles I anxiously waited to hear the gun for the start of my wave… and there it was…. The gun went off and the race against myself began. I felt hands and feet everywhere, pushing and kicking me. Every single one of the 90 women in my wave tried to find the perfect line, keep the breathing straight and at the same time not lose sight of the colourful buoys that lead the way of the swim course. I managed to keep my focus. After the first 5 minutes (which seemed to be endless) I got into the groove of things and was able to find my rhythm. At 38 minutes it was my best swim ever over such a long distance. Out of the water, volunteers stripped off my wetsuit and after a 400 m run I entered the transition zone and ran to my bike.
Lesson learned: You have to decide whether you want to be in control or if you will allow others and the water take control over you. 
Business ~ Be pro-active instead of reactive and stay focused all the way!
If you don’t want to risk being disqualified, you better have your shoes and your helmet on before you even touch the bike. I started to eat a muesli bar while I was running with my bike from the transition zone where I was finally allowed to mount my bike. Wooooohooooo…. Once I was on the bike, I felt that I could relax a little bit. Nutrition intake on the bike is VERY important. If you forget to eat while you are on the bike, you risk depleting your body and this would result in “hitting the wall” and you would be unable  to finish the race.  Salt pills, gels, power bars….. I did everything by the book and felt fairly strong all the way through. The last 20 k were tremendously hilly and I was a little worried how my legs would react to all these nasty hills when I started my half marathon. Even though my legs felt a little wobbly at first, I was fine as soon as I had changed into my running shoes and left the transition area.
Lesson learned: After every uphill, there is a downhill and the harder you train, the less you will feel the hills in your legs. In Adrian’s words: “If you want to be better, train harder!”
Business ~ With proper training on what’s important you will see outstanding results!
The start of the run felt surprisingly easy. All these brick workouts (20 minutes bike, 10 minutes run – 4 times in a row) seemed to pay off. I allowed myself to walk through all the water stations to eat and to drink. Up until 18 k into the run I felt totally fine and then the real race started and it became a mind game. Who would win? My legs that really wanted me to stop and continue to walk or would I be able to convince my mind to keep going? I knew I had to find a way to distract myself and I started to smile. I had practiced this many times and now I consciously began to convert my negative inner dialogue by vocalizing…. I feel strong, I feel healthy, I can do this…. I feel strong, I feel healthy, I can do this….  Over and over again until I knew I had only about 500 m to go….. I smiled, started to sprint and with that I had a very strong finish in my first Ironman 70.3 competition. 
Lesson learned: The race is not over until it is over. For me as an amateur athlete it’s not a race against others, it’s a race against myself. Physical challenges help me to develop the inner drive to become better and better. That’s what it is all about. You work hard on yourself and inspire others to do the same!
Business ~ Develop a mindset of excellence and individually become a little bit better each day!

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