I’m lucky enough to run a business called Threshold Sports.
We have helped tens of thousands of people take on inspirational challenges, and every year I get to see first-hand ‘ordinary’ people achieving extraordinary things.
I’ve seen working mums walk 100km non-stop to raise thousands of pounds for good causes to people walking their first 5km as part of award winning company wellbeing programmes. Although I’m often in hi-viz on the finish line rather than taking part, this year I’ve signed up to take on our flagship event, the Deloitte Ride Across Britain. It’s been a life ambition to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Admittedly doing it in 9-days is a steeper challenge than I may have envisaged. However, in preparing for the ride this September I’m increasingly seeing key similarities between taking part in a mass participation event and running Threshold day to day.
The following are a few points that may resonate with people who have either taken on one of our events or run a business. And don’t panic, there is no detailed analysis of the merits of shimano vs. campagnolo groupsets or any mention of chamois cream.
1. Set a clear and inspiring target
Knowing what you are working towards allows you to judge everything along the way and whether it is helping or hindering you getting there. If you don’t know where you are going it’s hard to measure any progress towards the goal which is critical to maintain motivation.
With the John O’Groats sign in my mind and 969 miles to cover to get there, it’s easy to judge if what I do each day is right. Early morning laps around Richmond Park with the team? Tiring, but one step closer. 4th Creme Egg during an Easter egg hunt at the in-laws. Not as productive.
Showing ROI for corporate wellbeing programmes or developing new charitable event models is more complex than just aiming for a signpost. But by breaking goals down into inspiring targets for a team you can map your progress towards hitting them and, just as importantly, celebrate when you do.
2. Strategy is easy. Execution is hard
I’ve stood in front of a thousand people in the past telling them what they need to do to reach their goal of an event finish line. It’s all been sound advice ranging from training to equipment to nutrition. However, unless you knuckle down to the hard work of making it a reality you won’t reach the goal.
In the same way running a business, you can have a world class strategy, but if you aren’t willing to put in the unglamorous work of wrestling it off the PowerPoint slide/napkin and turning it into a reality then you’ll never achieve it.
It turns out it’s a lot easier to strategise that 4 sessions a week training will prepare you for Deloitte Ride Across Britain than actually doing the sessions.
3. You achieve so much more with a fantastic team around you
There are enough books written about the importance of teams to sink even the most robust event safety boat. In event terms you can distil it down to numbers such as that riding in a slipstream on a bike reduces effort by 30%, but that is to miss the subtleties.
It’s not just the mechanical efficiency. It’s the emotional support. In any event or business you have high and low points. It is the team and culture you instil in both which provides the platform to achieve far more than you would think possible on your own.
4. There will be headwinds and tailwinds
My personal experience is that you can’t get angry with a hill as it’s been there for millennia and you (or the route director) have just decided to go that way. A headwind on the other hand has decided to blow you backwards on that particular day at that particular time and it feels more personal.
As on an event there are days when you feel the wind is at your back in business and progress is easy. Other days, everything you do seems to be battling against wind, rain, punctures, road diversions and snapped chains.
Railing against a perceived injustice such as clients cutting back or narrowly missing out on a pitch doesn’t help anything. Embracing the challenge with those around you and knowing it can’t be a 40mph north westerly forever will see you into the sunshine on the other side that bit sooner.
5. More Is In You
TS Eliot once wrote, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”. There are always a hundred reasons why taking on the challenge of an event is stupid. I have a young family and trying to find a few hours at the weekend for training is putting the concept of a ‘work-life balance’ under a lot of strain.
In fact setting targets you’re not sure you can hit is decidedly unbalanced, but as with business the times when you look back with pride about what you have achieved are when you’ve done something beyond your capability. Every year I see people arrive at our events and deep down I think there is not a snowball’s chance in hell they will make it to the finish. Every year I am proved wrong.
They are my inspiration to take on the challenge of Deloitte RAB and to drive Threshold to fulfil its potential as the best event’s company around. Both are hard. Both are enormously rewarding.
Nick Tuppen, Managing Director, Threshold Sports
If you would like to know more about entering Deloitte Ride Across Britain either as a team, an individual or an event partner check out www.rideacrossbritain.com