Archive for April, 2010

Help From Others Can Get Us to Our Goals Faster in Racing and in Business.

April 12, 2010

I’m a big believer in asking for help when I need it. I don’t think we can do everything we want or need to do on our own. And I have found the insight and expertise of others will save us time, money and effort in reaching our goals, if we are willing to ask for help.

This became more clear to me than ever during a recent race. I have run the Heart Mini Marathon for four consecutive years. It was the first race I ever ran and it got me hooked on running. Each year I’ve run this race, I’ve improved my time a little bit, which I was pleased about. However, this year, I wanted to improve it a lot! To do that, I knew I’d need some help.

In January, I signed up for the Runner’s World Challenge. One of the main benefits is that you get a customized marathon training program designed by Bart Yasso. Yasso is the Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World and he’s run more than 1,000 races, triathlons, biathlons and eco-challenges over the past 28 years. He also happens to be my running hero. So, having an expert like Bart Yasso helping me train for my next marathon was a dream come true for me.

As I followed the training program, asked questions of the Challenge experts (including Bart Yasso), I started seeing significant improvement. It was exciting! But often in racing, just like in business, things go well in training but don’t always convert to success in the final implementation and execution. So, the Heart Mini Marathon would be my chance to take my new training for a test run…literally.

On race day, I lined up in the corral with all the other runners. As I made my way to the area where I thought I wanted to start, based on the pace I hoped to run the race. I noticed a couple of guys with a stick and some balloons that read 9:45. This was the pace they planned to run the race and it was also the pace that would get me to the finish line in my very aggressive goal time. I approached these two guys and said, “So you’re pacing this race?” They replied they were pacing the Flying Pig marathon and taking their pacing skills for a test run. I asked if it was okay if I joined them. They said absolutely!

In racing and business most people have strengths and weaknesses. One of my strengths in racing is endurance. One of my weaknesses in racing is pacing. I tend to start out too fast and then lose momentum. My hope was that running with a pace team, I’d avoid this because they’d make sure I ran at a consistent pace. They did! Not only did they help me run a consistent pace, they paced a little faster than 9:45. What that meant was my finishing time for a 15k (9.3 mile) race was more than 8 minutes faster than the previous finishing time. Now, if you’re not a runner, that may not sound like a lot, but it is. It’s almost one minute per mile faster than my previous personal best. To put that in business terms, that would be like completing a major project more than a week early.

As we crossed the finish line, I couldn’t thank the pacers enough. I was so grateful for their help. And I was equally grateful to Bart Yasso and the other experts at Runner’s World who designed such a fabulous training program that helped me push myself to a goal I would have only dreamed of a year ago.

You may think the point of this story is the importance of asking for help when you need it. It is. But it’s also about showing gratitude. While seeking expert advice to help you reach your goals is a good strategy in racing and in business, it’s also important to thank those who help you achieve those goals.

Always remember, while you may cross the finish line in racing and in business by yourself, there were others who helped you get there. You should never be too busy to thank people for their time, expertise and willingness to help you. And sometimes thanking people once or twice, just isn’t enough.

The next time you reach a goal, think about the people who helped you achieve that milestone. Then, pick up the phone, type an email, send a hand written note or whatever you feel is appropriate to let those people know how much you appreciate their help. Then, take your gratitude to the next level…and when someone asks you for help, don’t hesitate to give it.