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Five things I learned about Business from the Ironman

Posted by: Jason Zacher on Thursday, September 24, 2015
This Sunday, God willing, I’ll compete in Ironman Chattanooga. For those who don’t know, an Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run – 140.6 miles of endurance sport fun. (Insert your comments about my mental stability here.)
For anyone who competes in endurance sports, the reward is the journey. The race (for most of us) is just the cherry on top. This year, the nine-month training cycle has tested me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve learned a lot of things from this journey, but here are five things that I’ll bring to my business life when this is over:
1. Progress is not linear. A good run, bike, or swim doesn’t mean you’ll be stronger for the next one. You frequently plateau for weeks before breaking through to a new level of fitness. Same thing happens in business. If you have a good plan in place, you need to stay the course and don’t immediately panic if you’re not making the progress you think. However, it pays to...
2. Review your plan regularly. You don’t know what’s going to hit, but it pays to be flexible, re-evaluate where you are on a regular basis, and switch gears if need be. Don’t stick rigidly to a plan if it’s not working.
3. Anything worth doing will be difficult. Starting a business, starting a new product line, or any of a litany of other things you’ll experience in business are all difficult. A difficult journey also indicates the reward will probably be worth it in the end.
4. You need a good support system. As a business leader, you need mentors. You need good employees. You need help. If I didn’t have my awesome wife run my family at home and a great team at the Chamber keeping my ambitious schedule running on time, I could have never gotten to the Ironman starting line.
5. “Balance” is a myth. It’s impossible to have perfect work/life/physical/spiritual balance. Something will always win out. The key is to make sure one doesn’t drown out the others for too long. There were weeks where I shelved my training so I could concentrate on my family. There were weeks where I had to focus on training at the expense of my family and work. “Balance” is not having everything perfectly balanced all the time, but knowing when things are out of balance and bringing them back into alignment as soon as you can.
6. BONUS: Life is too short to listen to bad music. Think this is silly? Try having “Rico Suave” roll through your head in a continuous loop on a 6-hour bike ride. I don’t wish that on anyone.
If you’re really bored on Sunday, and you’ve already re-arranged your sock drawer, you can go over to and track Jason’s progress on the Ironman course. He’s bib #1965 for Ironman Chattanooga.


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