Miles 21 to 22: It’s not a race. It’s a process. Less than .5 percent of the U.S. population has ever completed a marathon. As in business, few succeed. It is completely about envisioning the finish line, the goals you want to achieve, and assessing the results each mile and adjusting. It’s about training. It’s about patience. It’s about drive. And when you get to the last few miles, it’s about pure will. Training for a marathon is an affirmation you repeat to the world when you show up every weekend to do another long training run that spans from four to 20 miles before you ever see a start line.
Miles 22 to 23: It’s not about who you’re competing with. It’s about your strategy. You may pass some people along the way, but there are many players on that stretch of trail that can distract you from your goals. Chase the runner that’s faster than you, you burn out and never finish. Pace with someone who doesn’t push you, you fall behind. It’s about having the best personal strategy that will get you to the end. As with a successful business, it’s a long race where you must have a clear mission, intentionally work a strategy, and adjust along the way as the course changes.
Every breakthrough in business I have ever experienced felt as if all the preparation I did before didn’t matter. The playbook gets thrown out the door because you have just gone someplace you’ve never been before.
Miles 23 to 24: You will want to quit when you are the closest. Push through. You train for the first 20 miles, but every marathoner knows there is nothing you can do to prepare for what mentally and physically happens to you the last 6.2 miles. Nothing you have trained for or brought with you helps — it’s completely mental. Every breakthrough in business I have ever experienced felt as if all the preparation I did before didn’t matter. The playbook gets thrown out the door because you have just gone someplace you’ve never been before.
Miles 24 to 25: Choose to be a finisher. I’m always amazed at the diversity of people milling around before the race. In the Anchorage Marathon, 48 states and 15 countries were represented. But stripped down in race gear and trash bags to keep warm before the race stands every body type, age, education and story. Not unlike in business, it’s those who showed up in the early morning with the determination to finish that achieve their goals — no matter what happens along the way.
Miles 25 to 26.2: Cross the finish line. It is awesome and a relief. There are medals, fanfare and free t-shirts. However, not unlike transforming something, only you know all it took to get there. You don’t transform after you cross the finish line; you transform along the way.
Sometimes you need to return to the place where you started and run the race one more time to remember how far you’ve come. It’s hard to see this the first time you run the race and there is always more to learn; both you are the terrain change over a decade. Transformation: If you’re willing to start and see yourself as a finisher, you’re already almost there.