What Will You Do When You Hit Your Heartbreak Hill in Business?
But there was no doubt where we were this past Monday. You could see it on the runners’ faces contorted with a mixture of disbelief, dismay and determination. We were on the infamous Heart Break Hill.
At this point, the runners had already covered 20 miles, the last few of which had been nothing but up and down. It was hot and many were exhausted digging deep for a final push, in as much as six miles can be considered a mere push.
As a runner and a business owner, I know that look. I have no aspirations of running a marathon, but I run short races and I have run a few half marathons. And I’ve seen that look on the faces of my business colleagues.
In business, as in the Boston Marathon, hills are inevitable. You must go up to go down. There is a key difference, of course. In business they’re unpredictable. There’s no route to study. You just have to be prepared for what comes.
Still, what I’ve learned about running hills applies to business.
Get the Right Mindset
The hills are hard. You can hate them or love them. Embrace them. Label the challenges that come your way as a good thing. They can make you stronger. They can separate you from the crowd. They can take you places you can’t get any other way. The view from the top is fantastic. Keep this in mind as you are going up.
Use Your Vision
When I’m running up hills, I envision myself flying or floating. With each step, I’m free from the earth. Yes, it’s a little silly, but it makes me feel lighter and gets my mind off the pain and effort of the climb. In business, picture yourself being on top of whatever needs to get done. You have to develop trust in your own abilities.
Remember that the hill won’t last. It may feel like it won’t ever end, and in fact, one uphill may just lead to another for a while. But there is a top. And you will be going down. When you get tired of going up, picture what that will be like to renew your energy.
Look ahead, but not too far. Rather than looking at the top of the hill so far away off in the distance look right in front of you. One step at a time. One more step. One more step. With each one, you are making progress. Just keep taking steps.
Develop a Good Strategy
Don’t try to maintain an even pace. Ease up as you go up the hill and then attack the course as you go down. Stay in control and maintain good form, however, because going down uses a different set of muscles and opens you up to other sorts of injuries. When business is going well and life seems easier, you want to ensure that things continue to go well.
It seemed that the people standing with me on Heartbreak Hill were yelling as loudly as they could. But when they saw someone slowing down or looking particularly discouraged, they yelled even louder. They wanted those runners to get up the hill as much as the runners did. You need people like that in your life. You need people who will cheer you on when you feel like you can’t make it. You need them to remind you how hard you’ve fought, how far you’ve come and how strong you really are. Line up those people and be ready to reach out to them when needed.
When you reach the top of the hill, congratulate yourself. Whether a small or a large one, you’ve accomplished something important. The more you acknowledge your own victories, the more of them you will have.
Spend some time working on your business instead of just in your business. Join us on April 28th for a workshop to make a plan for business growth.