Hello, my name is Kevin Getch and I’m an obstacle course racing addict. I got my first taste of OCR in 2014 when I ran the Warrior Dash. I was immediately hooked. I set my sights on competing in the pinnacle of obstacle course racing, the Spartan race. After finishing the Spartan Sprint in Washougal Washington in August of 2015, I decided I was going to push the envelope even further and do the Spartan Trifecta in 2016.
I’m also a business owner. In 2009, I started Webfor, a digital marketing + creative agency, and I’ve had the pleasure of surrounding myself with an amazing team of people that provide an outstanding level of service for our growing family of clients. After experiencing a bit of success in both entrepreneurship and OCR, I realized several similarities between the two.
I Love Entrepreneurs! They put themselves on the line for their dreams, and they go after it regardless of failure and all the obstacles they encounter. It’s that same type of spirit that embodies many Spartan athletes whether they’re training for their first race or they’re a repeat champion.
So, it is with that love for your spirit that I share these 5 reasons why running a business is like running a spartan race (and vise verse).
Whether you’re starting a business or training for a Spartan race you’re bound to get some interesting responses from your friends, family and coworkers. People tend to not like what they don’t understand. Quitting your job and starting your own business doesn’t sound like fun to 95% of the people out there. To most people neither does running long distances, carrying giant rocks and logs, crawling under barbed wire and jumping over fire. I’m not sure why.
Starting a business is really hard. Most businesses fail. You should be more realistic. Why would you want to do that? Those are just a few things you might hear from people. Now, people often with the best intentions don’t realize they are raining on your parade.. Often it’s their own fears that they are projecting on to you. The best thing you can do is prove them wrong. Not in a spiteful way (unless that works for you), but in a way where you’re not going to let them dim your light, but let your light shine so bright it shows them the way. They, too, can do anything that they put their mind and heart into 100%.
One thing that is certain in both business and in Spartan races is that your mental toughness will be challenged. You may be driven to the point where your heart is pounding so hard, you physically feel sick and you don’t think you can go on anymore…. and that’s just the business side of things. When you have the weight of the company, the well being of your employees and your family as well as balancing what’s best for your clients, the pressure can sometimes feel like a lot to carry. When the weight of the decisions you handle in one day equal what most people handle in a month you need to develop a mental toughness and dedication that may seem superhuman to some.
It’s this same mental toughness and dedication that you see in people who have committed themselves to running a Spartan race. Have you ever run a Spartan Race? If so, you probably know that there are times when you want to stop running, stop pulling, stop climbing, stop carrying, even times when you may want to quit altogether. You feel like you’ve expended everything and you’re not sure if you can take another step. You have a choice at that moment. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and overcome your mental and physical exhaustion or quit. And quitting isn’t really an option for a Spartan.
You can rest assured even the most confident and prepared mind will experience fear. It’s not the absence of fear, but moving forward in the face of fear that makes the difference between making progress or making excuses.
I’ve found most people aren’t as afraid of failure as they are of other people knowing they failed, seeing them fail, being embarrassed in public. That’s why public speaking is listed as the number one fear (even before death) is because people are “deathly” afraid of public embarrassment.
Here’s a life changing concept for you… If you could get comfortable with being uncomfortable, what could you accomplish? I mean, if you were able to face your fears head on knowing that you will fail, you will be embarrassed, and you’re OK with that because you will get back up and keep moving towards your goal. The answer is that you could achieve anything.
After I did my first Spartan race, I had to do 30 penalty burpees for each obstacle I failed. I slipped off the rings, got a serious cramp in my calf on the wall and couldn’t get that last 3 feet on the rope climb, so I did 90 burpees. I decided to look into specific techniques to see if I could improve. To my surprise, I found an awesome trick for climbing rope that made getting to the top much easier in my next race. I also learned some breathing techniques that made it easier for me to run longer distances without getting as tired. I also improved my speed pretty dramatically as well as my hill running.
In business there are many techniques that one must study and learn that will make running a business more effective. Be it forecasting financial data, developing effective processes, leveraging software or creating a culture of constant improvement, the ability to do more with less energy is critical. You should constantly be learning and training your team, working on that constant upward improvement cycle to get better everyday. How are you measuring your performance? If you’re not measuring your performance, how can you know if you’re improving?
My fellow Spartans may see obstacles as fun opportunities to test themselves. I know I do. Except that freakin bucket carry. There’s nothing fun about that.
As a business owner you need to remain agile and be able to overcome the obstacles that will undoubtedly come up. Whether it’s the loss of an employee, the loss of a client, a change in your industry or a financial hurdle, there will be challenges that test your faith.
It’s important to plan for unforeseen obstacles by running scenarios on multiple possible outcomes and how you can plan for and handle them as they arise. In many cases these obstacles are also opportunities. Some of the obstacles are there for all your competitors as well, and if you can successfully overcome it while your competitor is still trying to understand it, you will be in a much more advantageous position.
I may have to do a follow up to this post as there are many other ways that running a Spartan race is like running a business (You need rest to perform at your best, To be the best you have to surround yourself with the best, You need to develop a winning culture and you need to fuel the fire). I guess, keep your eye out for a follow up post in the upcoming months. Sign up for my newsletter to be notified of upcoming blog posts and news.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I look forward to seeing you out on the obstacle course of life!