Well before signing on to help start Nosy Crow Inc, and after many years of flirting with the idea, I made the decision to run my first marathon this fall.
It is certainly cliché to say that starting a company is like running a marathon. But as I find myself in the middle of trying to do both, I really understand why. And thus, I cannot help but consider the lessons I’ve learned from both challenges.
Here are a handful of takeaways from my marathon training that can also be applied to beginning a business.
1. There are no shortcuts
The first and most obvious lesson from my marathon training program is simply: there are no shortcuts. To be successful on race day, one must put in the miles during training. Do the work, trust the process, and race day will take care of itself. The analogy to business is simple: to create great books, or deliver a compelling sales pitch, what matters most is the time, thought, and careful consideration that go into each step before the book is printed or the customer visited.
2. You must lean into discomfort
Setbacks will occur. What I’ve learned is not to ignore the doubt or the pain in the knees, but rather to take some time to dwell on the reasons behind them. I’ve even found that when out on a run and the doubt and discomfort creep in, it is helpful to give voice to those feelings. I will say out loud, “I am not sure I can finish another mile,” or “my feet hurt.” It is only then that I can fully let go, clear my head, and keep moving forward. I find this to be useful in the office as well. When things are difficult, it is imperative to talk through the underlying issues that led to the setback or rejection. Why did things go awry? How can we make sure it does not happen again? Learn from these lessons and challenges so that you may be in a better position when the inevitable challenges arise again.
3. Pacing is key
Sometimes the best way to be able to run fast is to run slow. While speed can be necessary sometimes, the bulk of the work will be at a slow and steady pace over a long duration. A pace that allows you to take the time to set up solid processes, think through a complicated negotiation, teach, and learn from those around you. Like with running, sometimes you need to slow down to be able to move faster in the future, with a solid base of knowledge and the courage of your convictions well seated. I sometimes must force myself to slow down – this has been the case with Nosy Crow Inc, and in my marathon training. And I need to keep reminding myself that sometimes going slowly yields better results than going quickly.
As I write this, I am cognizant of two dates: November 6, 2022, and May 2, 2023. These are the dates of the New York City Marathon and the publication of Nosy Crow Inc’s first books, respectively. While I keep these dates in the back of my mind, I try to focus more on the present, putting in the work daily, learning from mistakes, leaning into discomfort, and moving forward at a steady, even pace. And last but certainly not least, I try to have fun and to enjoy the ride!
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