How a 140.6 Mile Ironman Has Made Me A Better Businessman- Valutrics

At the beginning of this year, I got the call you never want to receive as a business owner. Our largest client chose not to renew their contract after what had felt like a successful 5-year relationship. Ouch! It meant the beginning of the end of 9-year business I had put my heart and soul into.

I had to ask myself how I was going to proceed. While I can’t control everything that happens to me in my life, I can control what I do about it (see related article, Are You Living Legendary or Managing Your Circumstances?).

Discovering Siri Lindley

If you’ve read my other articles, you know that prior to the beginning of this year, I was on the tail end of a 2-year journey with Tony Robbins. As part of that journey, I was truly inspired when Tony Robbins interviewed Siri Lindley. As I listened to Siri Lindley speak vulnerably about her dreams and all the challenges she had to overcome in order to become a world champion triathlete, I knew I wanted to get to know her.

I had the incredible fortune to interview her (see related article, Four Steps to Overcome Any Obstacle). And after getting to know Siri, and sharing my goal of one day completing my first Ironman, she offered to coach me. Having Siri Lindley coach you through an Ironman is like having Keith Richards offer to give you guitar lessons. I jumped at the chance.

How Training for an Ironman Helps Your Business

If you don’t know, a full Ironman is 140.6 miles that consists of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running a full 26.2 mile marathon. Any ONE of these tasks is feat of incredible strength and endurance, but doing all three back-to-back in under 17 hours requires an incredible amount of both physical and mental training.

I didn’t begin my Ironman journey to help me become a better businessman, but this has been the happy bonus that I’d like to share with you.

  1. Discipline Equals Freedom. I first discovered this pearl of wisdom from Leif Babin and Jocko Willink in their best selling book Extreme Ownership. But I hadn’t experienced the full meaning until I began getting up every day at between 3:30 and 4:30 am so that I could complete my 2-3 hour workouts. Preparing for all three sports requires a lot of training and if you’re also working full time, you need to make time where you can get it. Having the discipline to get up early every day and then go to bed early so that you don’t burn out immediately changed my routines and forced many of my bad habits into great ones that would forever change me in a positive way. I then applied these insights to my business. By forcing myself to focus on and complete the most important items each day, that discipline freed me from most of the unproductive nonsense that eats up so much of our day if we don’t have the discipline to weed it out. That in turn gives us the freedom that we desire.
  2. Better Health Means Higher Stamina. Initially, I was exhausted with my new workout routines. My body wasn’t used to working this hard. But after a few weeks, something amazing happened. My body started to CRAVE the exercise I was giving it. I was much more acutely aware of how alert and attentive I was throughout the day. Coffee was no longer needed for a boost of energy. I was able to process problems faster and felt more confident in my actions. Improving my health had a much higher impact on my day-to-day activities than I would have ever expected. Though my Ironman training, I had become the healthiest I had ever been, and my health was giving me more energy and focus to solve the most important problems.
  3. “Difficult” is Relative. When my life-long friend Lisa Valentine first trained me to complete an triathlon sprint, I could barely run 3 miles. Now that distance is just a warm up. I mean, seriously, if you can run 13.1 miles in under 2 hours just about every week while training for an Ironman, suddenly you realize what is “difficult” is actually relative. Yes, 3 miles is a herculean effort if you’re out of shape and just starting to train. But to my friend Dan Waldschmidt, who is an Ultra Runner, a full 26.2 marathon is about 25% of the 100 miles he will do in a single race (and in less than 24 hours).

    Now apply that to business. What’s difficult is what is new to you. Without having mentors, coaches and seasoned professionals in your life, business can be brutal. However, when you have the right team with the right experience, you can do just about anything you put your mind to. That’s why Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos are all focused on Space Travel. When you’ve crushed one thing, you’re looking for the next big challenge that will define your career and personal legacy.

So to all my friends and colleagues who think I’m nuts, let me just say this. What is amazing is NOT that I will complete my first 140.6 mile Ironman, but that I had the courage to commit to completing one in the first place. Those seemingly impossible goals are the ones that define who you really are and shape both your destiny and legacy. Aspire to inspire, my friends.

(And if you want to watch my progress in real-time today, you download the mobile app “Ironman Tracker” or follow my progress @BillCarmody on Twitter.)