Let’s set the scene. You’re in a packed stadium. It’s the Olympics and you’re watching the 100-metre sprint. You’re up in the nosebleed section and you see what resembles little “ants” stretching on the field as they prepare for their 10-second mad dash to the finish line. As the race is about to begin, the official hollers: “Ready? Set. Go!” And off they go, as fast as the wind, with the hopes of finishing first among a handful of equally talented competitors.
But wait, “Ready? Set. Go!”? Is this phrase always correct? Should you always be “set” before you “go?”
The answer is: not always. Let’s take a step back to understand this using an example.
Running a Business vs. Running a Race
Running a business (or running your life) is not entirely like running a race. In a business, you don’t usually have to practice for months for something that lasts a mere 10 seconds. Business plans are more likely to have a longer shelf life (well, at least longer than 10 seconds, I’d hope!). Nor do businesses stand on a racing line with their competitors and wait for formal instructions to begin.
On the other hand, you do have to plan and practice in order to achieve success, whether you’re a business builder or a sprinter. How else are these situations similar?
Well, for one, competition is fierce. A business has other companies in its market. A person has other people in their expertise vying for the same opportunities and jobs. A runner has other athletes aiming for the gold.
Next, there is a common thread in terms of goals. A business wants to be the market leader and innovator. A person aims for the top in the class, to become the most knowledgeable or have a reputation for excellence. A runner’s ultimate goal is the gold. In essence, all three aim for the top spot; to be number one in their field.
Lastly, motivation, inspiration and hard work are all requirements to succeed. I can’t imagine a runner winning the race if he’s never up early in the morning practicing. Nor will a business become number one in its industry if it doesn’t have a clear vision or the necessary people to succeed. And a person will not become successful and well-respected if he only works during a full moon between the hours of 2 and 3 am. Okay, well maybe not that drastic, but you get my drift!
The most relevant distinction between businesses and athletes is the idea of false starts. Starting before the official whistle isn’t allowed during races. In contrast, false starts are a common practice in the business world. No business starts at the same place, at the same time as their competitors. Rather, businesses are often light years ahead in terms of new products, services, or other innovative business practices. Then, of course, the competition will analyze the success and attempt to replicate it!
Well, what if false starts were allowed during races? Would it be fair? Instead, what if there was a tradeoff: the runner can start 10 metres ahead of his competition but the catch is that he would only be allowed minimal training and planning beforehand. So, chances are, the sprinter won’t be in as great of shape as his opponents. Is it fair now?
While we’re not going to get into the ethical or legal issues with false starts, it raises an interesting point. What if, instead of: “Ready? Set. Go!”, we had:
Ready? Go! Tweak!
What does this mean? What does it entail? And how will you be directly affected?
Find out more with Part 2 of: Ready? Go! Tweak.