I’m one of those annoying Lycra wearers that clog up the road when you’re trying to get somewhere – but over the last 10 years or so since I’ve got into road cycling and dabbled with a bit of racing, I’ve frequently drawn on the parallels between bike and business. Here are a few ….
Perseverance: How do you cycle for 150 miles in a day ? Don’t stop pedalling. Same in the workplace, you might need to adapt but just keep going – someone else will give up before you do.
Teamwork: No professional cyclist will ever win a multi-day event like the Tour de France without a team. Individual capability and flair is clearly important but without great people around you, the other team will always win.
Energy and Recovery: when you’re pushing on for hours at a time over challenging terrain you’ve got to keep eating and drinking constantly, maintaining your energy levels is all important. Afterwards, rest and recovery is crucial so you can go again. I’m not suggesting that you sit at the desk eating all day ! however the principle is the same; if you work flat out every day without any downtime you’ll blow up eventually – watch out for the signs and force yourself to take some time out when you need it.
Failure is OK ! : The first time I failed to complete a training session on my ‘hamster wheel’ in the garage, I sat on the floor, mortified. I had started to suffer after 40 minutes and eventually couldn’t maintain the pace as the resistance went up & up. Afterwards I read up a bit on training and realised that some sessions will ‘break’ you on a ‘bad’ day but still really contribute to making you stronger. Most successful entrepreneurs tend to have a number of failures behind them, it’s how you learn ….
A team needs a common purpose : in a bike race you often get a ‘breakaway’ – several riders from different teams that will speed away from the front of the main group and work together to try and ride to the finish. However, as they get close to the finish they start to race against each other because they all want to win as an individual ! Sometimes this slows them down so much that the main group catches them and all that effort is wasted. In business, as a leader, how do you make sure that your team have a common purpose – all the way to the finish line ?
Purchasing : This is one area where you shouldn’t draw any parallels ! If you’re into bikes you’ll stare at the screen for hours wondering if the 50g saved justifies the extra £200. And if it’s shiny enough the answer will be ‘yes’. As all cyclists know, the formula for how many bikes you should own is N+1, where N is your current number of bikes. Do not make business decisions like this if you plan to stay solvent.
Happy cycling & trading ……..