Today I received an inspiring email from a young man who is exhibiting what it takes to succeed for real entrepreneurs. In this case, he has been training for an Ironman Canada event. Read his observations and how he is learning from the rigors of this very challenging sporting event. Then apply it to yourself, when you are doing or contemplating doing your startup. Serial entrepreneurs will tell you this kind of determination is required to do a startup successfully.
" Dave's Ironman
(Things I'll be counting on during the 2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike, and 26.2 mi run)
1. In order to compete individually, train with a team: It was great to have a supportive Team to train with. I couldn't have done it without you all: those of you who sent donations and those of you who helped me replace my first flat tires. I am physically and mentally prepared to accomplish my reach goals.
2. Smile and always be grateful: Too many races and too little time. Everyday I wake up and try to be a good person (except to attorneys – they deserve what's coming) and to be grateful for everything I have. I'll never take racing for granted.
3. Follow your passion, get excited: Clients say I'm the only employee who smiles and gets excited when reviewing financial models. I hope to be smiling when I cross the finish. Both work and play should always be infused with passion regardless of perceived obstacles.
4. For best results, delay gratification: Some things have a high threshold for short-term discomfort; but these experiences serve as the foundation for growth that compliments a portfolio of skills and experience. Ironman training was a great long-term investment. I highly recommend you try it someday.
5. Sometimes it's best to take a break: Motivation can get the best of you if you're not careful. Know when your body needs to recover. Stretch, do yoga, and eat lots of ice cream.
6. Grin and bear the pain: To compete? Or just to complete? Answer the question of why you're there and accept the pain accordingly, it's only temporary, and you'll be proud of yourself for pushing your limits. Only you know what it takes.
7. Live by example: There's more to life than "work to live" or "live to work." Identifying the happy median can be difficult but is possible and worth pursuing.
8. Identify and repair weaknesses: I didn't own a bike and hadn't really swam before starting to train. 10 months later I'm not about to win the Tour or the Summer Games but I am making progress. Working on weaknesses rounds out my rough edges.
9. Never doubt yourself; have faith, have no fear: There's no reason to be intimidated by anything. After swimming in San Francisco bay, I'm confident I can dive into any body of water or knowledge and learn to thrive (not just survive).
10. There is no easy way: I hope to emerge from my first Ironman a stronger individual. There are no shortcuts to hard work, specific training, and perseverance. "
BOTTOM LINE: Startups are demanding of soul and body, just like an Ironman event. When you realize that, you'll not fall into the trap of naively expecting your new enterprise will be as easy as a cake walk. The heavy lifting is very heavy. When you are ready for that, you are well on your way to understanding the soul of building an unfair competitive advantage.