I have seen (and sat in) the enemy

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There comes a time in your athletic career when you just have to do the miles. Perhaps you’re not feeling in top form, maybe it’s raining, could be cold or hot, whatever, pick your excuse.

But, you just have to do the miles, so you head out.

“Get off your ass,” as Coach Justin Harris is prone to say.

Same applies at the office. That comfy, 360 degree spinning cushion is your death sentence. Not only is sitting bad for your health, it also keeps you away from your peeps. Anything keeping you from your people must be looked at with a very critical eye.

But wait, there’s hope.

Become the pioneer of walking meetings in your office. Pick a destination or map a large out and back and walk the talk. Get the word out on what you’re doing and start a trend. If you get good at it you might even begin using your GPS and see if you can start a competition on Strava among fellow managers.

Aside from a healthy alternative to sitting, the walking meeting becomes a symbol of health, innovation, and transparency.

Check out this awesome TED Talk on the subject.

Try it out and let me know how it goes.

The Start

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I’ve never known anyone who exclusively races.

It’s been my pleasure to cross paths with so many wonderful people along my athletic path. We share a love of our sport and desire to do it whenever possible. Whether we’re following a training plan or letting the wind dictate the day’s direction, our active moments are cherished. 

I race to train, embracing the lifestyle, not merely a series of competitions. 

What’s the parallel in management?

Ask yourself…

  • When and how do I practice management?
  • What form does my management ‘training’ take?
  • When I do train, is it one-way communication, with me the one receiving?
  • How does my management style reflect my lifestyle?

The basic principle of improvement by practice fueled by passion applies to athlete and manager alike. 

In order to be the best manager you must practice, out loud, with others, frequently.

Athletes and managers who train with stronger colleagues progress quicker. When we surround ourselves with people whose strengths are complementary to ours, we raise the bar for everyone. 

Let’s get started:

  1. Identify a team of managers who are willing to train together. Find them at work, online, or in your circle of friends. Reach out and make this happen – people will appreciate it.
  2. Set a meeting time and discuss your idea. Get your training partners onboard.
  3. Bring to the table your own strengths and challenges. Self-reflection is key to success. Only when we know ourselves can we make a real contribution.
  4. Set personal and group goals. There should be time set aside for discussion, role playing, webinars, book discussion, etc. The possibilities are endless, which is why you need a plan for yourself and the group.

Begin at the beginning, get the group together, and you’re on your way.

The sport of management

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It all became clear on mile 18 of the run at Ironman Lake Placid.

My day began at 7 a.m. with a raucous swim with 2,600 colleagues, all determined to hear those words ‘you are an Ironman’ some 9 to 16 hours later. Then, on to a 112 mile bike ride through the majestic Adirondack mountains…emphasis on mountains.

It was with 18 of 26 miles behind me on the grand finale – a marathon – that I called an emergency meeting of my management team. It was do or die time. We needed to be on the same page or this thing faced the real risk of going south.

We entered the executive boardroom. At the table, my legs, lower back, and feet. Endurance and strength had checked in as had common sense and spirit, arguing as usual.

The meeting came to order and after a full systems check negotiations began. Body parts okayed a speed increase, but only to that electric pole. Endurance agreed to chill between poles, then strength chimed in – supplies were limited, but available. It would have to be strategically rationed.

Common sense appealed to stop and regroup. Spirit then gave a rousing speech about family (waiting at the finish line) and something about freedom and America.

Once again, common sense was voted down.

From that point to a triumphant finish I managed myself forward. Later, I would reflect on the incredible similarities between being an endurance athlete and a manager. The parallels are endless, so, here we are, about to explore management as sport and becoming a better manager by training like an athlete.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Let’s have some fun!

George