Post by Tanya Goodwin-Maslach, contributing Women On Business writer
2.4 miles swimming. 112 miles biking. Then a marathon – 26.2 miles. It’s called the Ironman distance and it’s the longest of four main distances that triathletes can race. There’s a woman doing it now who only started doing triathlons four years ago and who, in six starts at this distance, has won each of them. Definitively and, in some cases, in record breaking time. Her name: Chrissie Wellington.
She burst on the scene and won her first (because that’s what you say when there was as a ‘second’) World Championships in 2007 leaving athletes, professional or otherwise, wondering, “Who is this chick?” and in 2008, did it again. None of these races are “gimmes”. The field is thick with accomplished, well-trained and well-financed world and ironman champions
As a professional triathlete, this woman faces the same anxieties, trepidations and jubilation any entrepreneur or business leader faces when building a business. The journey is paved with potholes, speed bumps, critics questioning your every decision, and in some cases, flat tires. Yes, haven’t we all experienced deflated tires as we speed towards a success? A last minute need or modification to the proposal by the client quickly changes your company’s favorability and you need to adapt. Your product launch gets screwed up because the technology doesn’t work at the last minute, despite multiple tests in the lab.
Chrissie’s flat tire in the World Championship Ironman race slowed her down by an excruciating 10 minutes. She could do nothing as her competitors whizzed by. But she won anyway. Thanks in no small measure to the sportsmanship of another athlete.
What does any of this have to do with business?
This World Champion, Chrissie Wellington, just completed a race in Australia – where she set the course record. The morning of the race she, and 1400 other athletes, arrived to find the week’s torrential rains had turned the lawn area where the athletes transition from one sport to the next into a mud bath. Chrissie’s response to an interviewers questions about the conditions? Wellington replied simply “You deal with it. We’re Ironman athletes. You deal with what you’re given.”
And that’s the business lesson for all of us, especially now. Leaders know the rains will come. And the better ones know they must just figure out the best way to just deal with it and go kick some butt.