A brief introduction then I get to the business bit.
A few weeks ago, I volunteered as support crew on the Endurancelife Classic Quarter, a race that takes runners from Lizard Point to Land’s End. So, from the most southerly point of the UK mainland to the most westerly; one quarter of the compass hence the name. The race consists of a tough 44 miles on the coastal path, my water station was in Penzance about 28 miles into the event. Previously I have worked at some stunning locations, Church Cove and Minack Theatre, now I ask for the uninspiring spot in Penzance. I went car free at the beginning of 2019 (check out my blog) and Penzance is the easiest place to get to by public transport.
When the runners leave the water point they pass through a gap in the wall (not the sea wall thankfully) then head across the car park to cut behind the harbour and on to Newlyn. They could turn left which would take them along a dead end on the left of the harbour or right through the bus station, which is effectively going back in the direction they have come. I keep an eye out to make sure they go the right way; surprisingly, some don’t despite there being a sign pointing the way a little way ahead. Okay it is only the size of a postcard, but it does have two bright red chevrons on and you would have thought that after 28 miles runners would have got used to spotting them.
I have never got lost on an Endurancelife event and I have run plenty of them. I think that is because I run a lot on poorly defined routes in training. In Cornwall (it is probably the same elsewhere) the council grades footpaths Gold, Silver and Bronze, Gold paths, because they are popular, are well defined, well signposted and regularly maintained, Silver get less attention and Bronze virtually none. Being a ‘path less well travelled’ type of person I seek out Bronze routes, which means when I enter a field, I have a vague idea where the path goes but have to look into the distance to spot a gap in the fence or other indication of which way I should head across the field, and of course I have done my homework and studied the map before I set out. When it comes to races it is in my DNA to be alert when there is a choice of directions, even when it is not obvious there is a choice, and I am tuned in to seeing signs. It’s likely that the runners who miss the signs and go the wrong way are not used to off-road running or are only used to running on well-defined routes.
Now to the business bit. A lot of business owners do not see the signs and take the wrong path. Many have their heads down working in the business and they do not see that they are at a junction and need to work on the business to take it in a different direction. They do not see changes in customer or competitor behaviour, new entrants into the market or advances in technology. Be like a savvy trail runner, keep your head up, look around and see the signs.
There is something else businesses can learn from runners. Like other sportspeople runners train all the time to perform at their best. It’s strange that businesspeople think they can be at the top of their game all of the time without training. Wisdoms123 Chats are a great way to train your brain and stay sharp. I pop across to South Africa (virtually) every weekday morning to discuss business topics with a diverse group of people for 30 to 40 minutes. Thinking about what I’m going to contribute on the subject that has been set is good training; however, I get the greatest benefit from listening to others that have different options from me. The South African chats are at 7 am UK time (8 am in South Africa), if that is too early or too much of a commitment drop into the UK ones on a Wednesday at 8 am UK time. It’s not networking, there is no selling, it’s just getting those little grey cells in your brain in great shape. Sign up here for free then you can use the link you are sent to attend any of the chats.
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