A Perfectly Good Example of Why Planning Doesn’t Always Matter

Hello Reno!

Hot off a fantastic race in San Francisco and steaming into a gorgeous 4th of July weekend, it seemed like a great time to share lessons learned from my Olympic triathlon last week.

Although it has been my most successful race to date, with my first top 10 finish (6th overall) in an Olympic race, it was also one of the most stressful and chaotic races.

Of all my blogs thus far, this one really seems to apply not just to triathlon racing but also to the business world in a very direct way. Onward!

  1. Don’t make assumptions – I made the poor assumption that because this was my 3rd year racing in San Fran that I would know exactly what was going on. Wrong! Probably one of the greatest lessons to learn is that assumptions will usually get you into trouble (business world and sports world alike). The bike was very different in that they added an additional 4 miles of hills, which wasn’t planned for on my part, they reorganized the swim waves from the normal order, and the run wasn’t the same it had been for years past. All of these changes resulted in a very stressful reorganization to my approach to the race. Everything I had geared up for was suddenly different than planned.
  2. Don’t panic – Business professionals that succeed in the workplace are the ones who keep a cool head no matter what is thrown at them. The same goes for triathletes… the ones who don’t panic are the ones who are able to put forth their best efforts when it becomes crunch time. As it turns out, despite all my pre-race prep and planning I was still able to successfully miss the entire Olympic distance swim waves that left at 7am, leaving me stranded on the beach with all of the Sprint athletes. Needless to say, I am not one to deal with change well, and immediately wanted to die, barf and just bail since things didn’t go according to plan. Somehow, I collected my thoughts, had my computer timing chip adjusted to my correct start time (meaning I still started with everyone else time-wise) and got on with my race. It was a great feeling catching a lot of the athletes that had left 15 minutes before me!
  3. Adapt to thrive – All too often the term “survival of the fittest” is thrown around like some kind of scientific fact when in reality, it’s those who adapt that not only survive but actually thrive in their environment! This can be seen in businesses that adapt to the changes in customer needs, and in athletes who handle variation with calm. I was thrown many curveballs on Sunday morning but made the adjustments where I needed to and had one of the best races of my life. Note: shoes unclipping from your bike while in transition is not conducive to a positive attitude!

  4. Persist! –The worst thing anyone can do in either arena is to bail when things get rough. Life is not made of only positive experiences, it’s a mix of the good and the bad. It’s always easy to give up when things go wrong (wrong swim wave, different bike course, change in running elevation) but that is when you should persist the most. It’s also fantastic practice for the “real world” where things go wrong more often than they go right. It was kind of refreshing not being near any of the competitors I was racing with, and every time I caught one it was a great feeling of “holy cow, I just smoked that person!!!” Ironically, despite all these setbacks, I had a wonderful race with a phenomenal time and awesome placement both overall and in my age group.

What is your advice for persisting through adversity and tough times?

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