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Lessons from my weekend escape

by LAURA MOULD / Friday, 25th November 2016


Over the weekend I took part in a unique and fun, but challenging event – Escape from Meriden (find it here).  The premise is this: start at midnight on Friday night in Meriden (the central most point of England) and, in 24 hours, escape on foot as far away from Meriden, as the crow flies, as you can.

A fantastic concept and a change from the usual half, full or ultra-marathons where the distance and route are pre-set.  Although, huddled together at the ancient stone cross in -3 degree temperatures waiting to be released into the night, it didn’t seem half as appealing.  Needless to say, one can do a lot of thinking in 24 hours and this post is the result of those ruminations and transferring those ‘lessons learned’ to my professional life. 

Preparation is key

Needless to say, those who selected the most efficient route covered more crow flying miles in less time, than their less-prepared counterparts.  Having spent hours poring over maps, planning and re-planning before finally settling on a route which, I felt, gave me the best possible chance of covering the most miles possible, it was easy to immediately set off in the right direction when the starting gate opened. 

The old mantra ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ rings true in both escaping Meriden and in business. 

Choose your companions wisely

I’m lucky to have a (much) better half who loves coming along on these adventures with me and I can honestly say I wouldn’t rather have anyone else as my travelling companion.  He knows how to pick me up when I enter that ‘dark place’, he navigates and takes bearings and convinces me we’re heading in the right direction, he doesn’t snap even when he’s tired and has blisters the size of golf balls.  In return, I keep us both well fed with sticky ginger cake and the like, make sensible decisions about when to stop to change our socks (post wading through cow s@#t, in case you were wondering) and don’t snap even when I’m tired and my toenails are falling off.

Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?!

The point being, in life and in business, being able to ride through the highs and the lows with each other, motivating each other, balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses and, most importantly of all, not blaming each other when things don’t go quite to plan is so important.  If you’re going into business with someone, choosing a new workplace (and therefore a new team) or even a supplier, choose carefully.  

Just keep moving

My mantra when the going gets tough!  One foot in front of another, no matter how slow, no matter how small the step.
And never more true than in business too.  It may not feel like you’re getting anywhere, but with every small step you’re making a difference and moving closer to your goal.  At the end of the year, if you add up all those small steps, you’ll see a big change. 

In my opinion, stagnating, not evolving, just staying still (or the same) is one of the most dangerous things any business person or company can do, especially in these times of uncertainty.  So, just keep moving!

Fuel your body and mind

How can you expect your body and mind to perform for you, unless you fuel it?  In ultra-marathons, that generally entails eating everything in sight and drinking plenty of water.  In business, fuel takes many guises; perhaps it is undertaking training and learning new things; setting and reaching goals and the associated reward; feeling passionate about your role.  Anything that fuels your body and mind to do more, want more, achieve more.

There is no such thing as bad weather

Just bad kit.  As with everything, it’s important to choose the right tools for the job.  To escape, a comfortable pair of running shoes, a lightweight running back pack, maps of the route and so on.  How would you expect to complete such a challenge without these? 

So, how can you expect to progress in business without the right tools?  It might be a personal development plan (your route map for progression); it might be a super star accountant to help your business run smoothly; it might be job board access for recruiters; it might be the right CRM system and so on.

Play to your strengths

Ask anyone, I’m not the fastest runner in the world.  But what I do have is grit and determination, so when all those super-fast runners have covered 30 miles in 3 and a half hours and got tired, bored and have headed for home, I’ll still be going.  By moving forward at a consistent, steady pace I covered 62 miles in 22 hours – that’s further than 31 out of the 70 entrants.  Not because I’m any better or faster or fitter than any of them, but because I played to my strengths.

What are your strengths?  Do you utilise them to the best of your ability?  Or are you bogged down doing things you don’t enjoy and aren’t very good at?  In business, I would always say, find people who are better than you, smarter than you and more able than you to do that ‘thing’ you’re not great at and delegate to them, leaving you to focus on what you do best.    

What defines success?

I’ll be honest, I set off on Friday night thinking this could be my first 100 mile event.  Very quickly it became apparent that wouldn’t be the case – the tired and the cold kicked in and the route wasn’t quite as efficient as I’d imagined.  So, I reassessed my goal.

I read somewhere a while ago (one of the many ultra-marathon books I’m absorbed in at the moment, I’m sure) that having a first and second and third goal is ideal.  Rather than being a cop out, it’s a sensible way to keep motivated.
It also helps you redefine success and that is important in business too.  Success to one may be making £100k in a year, where success to another might be getting home every night to put their kids to bed.  Don’t judge yourself against others’ measures of success, only your own.

For me, covering 62 miles on foot, keeping moving for nearly 22 hours and staying awake for nigh on 40 hours, placing 39th out of 70 entrants and enjoying every minute of it was the real success.

Who are SSG?

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