To qualify for the Boston marathon, runners in my age group must have achieved a marathon finish time of 3:45. (For non-runners, that’s 3 hours and 45 minutes.)
If you recall, at this time last year I succeeded in clocking a finish time of 1:45 in a half marathon. According to most race-predictor calculators, that means I ought to be able to run a 3:40 marathon—at least on paper.
Piece of cake, right? Not exactly.
Just as in business when we’re trying to acquire a company, forge a strategic partnership or land an important account, what’s on paper doesn’t always equate to reality.
That fact became painfully apparent to me within the first few miles of the October 19 Des Moines marathon. Too many hills and too little energy pointed to a full-out disaster. But just because it looked like I would fail, that didn’t mean I had to. And neither do you.
If you find yourself facing a potential business failure, draw on these perception shifters:
- Set a new goal. When I realized my pace was slowing, I forgot about Boston and set a more realistic finish time of 3:50. During the run, that goal evolved from achieving a sub-four-hour finish, to doing a little better than the guy I trained with, to finally simply crossing the finish line alive.
- Get your team on board with the new goal. Around mile 20, I saw my biggest fan (my mom) cheering, “Go faster, Melissa!” I said, “No, that’s over.” She quickly course corrected with, “You only have six miles to go!” To which I pleaded, “Do NOT say that!” Finally she tried, “One foot in front of the other?” Bingo. I repeated that phrase to myself all the way to the end.
- Don’t beat yourself up. If you fall short of your target, deliver the bad news to your worst critic—you—in the best possible way. Tell yourself that it’s harder to set a new goal and stick with it than it is to achieve the original challenge.
- Celebrate the win. A finish is a finish. A new client is a new client. Don’t let what was originally on paper prevent you from popping the cork on that champagne bottle and enjoying your victory.
Before you act …
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and be willing to take drastic measures. Sort of like when I spotted a gummy bear lying on the ground at mile 22. I swooped down, dusted it off and popped it in my mouth. Who knows? Those few grams of sugar may have been the deciding factor between success and failure.
Have you ever succeeded through a failure? Comment below.
P.S. Before I forget, my finish time at the marathon was … oh, never mind. I finished!