“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” – Cardinal Richard Cushing, Archbishop of Boston 1944 – 1970
Running is simple. All you need is a pair of running shoes, shorts, and, unless you are Bradley Cooper, a shirt. Please, always a shirt. Please.
Around this time year (every year), folks decide that they will “get in shape” and “start running.” They buy some shoes, grab some clothes, and, after 5 minutes of static “stretching”, they head out for “an easy 3 or 4 miles.” After 10 minutes or so, the Long Island January air is searing their lungs and their shins are barking. Some of them sheepishly walk back home dejected and with dashed aspirations. A few will continue through the pain for another few minutes but it always ends the same way – with discomfort and disappointment. If they are lucky, they’re not too far from home when they quit. Maybe they run again after the pain in their shins and their pride goes away. More likely, they don’t.
New runners fail because of a simple formula. Overconfidence in one’s abilities + no plan whatsoever = guaranteed failure. Established runners can fall prey to the same fate if they are not careful. A runner who says “I run two, three or blank miles a day” is running without a plan or a purpose and can never improve. A runner who runs three or four miles at a time and decides she can suddenly run 10 miles at a clip is heading for an injury.
Taped to my bathroom mirror is a training plan. It’s always there. Even if I’m not training for a race, I still have a training plan. Every day is planned out – hills, sprints, distance, tempo run, and even rest days (the most important days of all). Every day I highlight the plan in green when I have completed the planned workout or in red when I have missed it. My goal is to see more green highlights than red. Realistically, because I know myself, without the plan, I’d sleep in. With the plan, I’ve run 16 miles in the rain at 5 a.m.
What does my little training plan have to do with your business?
Just about everything.
New and even established businesses struggle or fail for exactly the same reasons new and even established runners fail. Overconfidence and the absence of a plan kill businesses every day.
Whether we are running on the road or running our businesses, we need a realistic plan.
A good business plan, like a good running plan, fits the business like a training plan fits the runner. What kind of shape is your business in? What is going on in your industry? It is shrinking? Who are your competitors and what are they doing? Do you have the resources for growth or are you struggling to maintain position? What type of risk are you willing to absorb? What’s the return you’re looking for? And, most important of all, where do you want to end up when you’re done?
So, assuming that you’ve already sat on your rock and spent 60 minutes contemplating who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going, next week we’ll do some self-evaluation and begin planning. In the meantime, if a New Year’s resolution demands that you run — jog a bit, walk a lot, and download Couch25K® to keep from getting hurt.
See you next week.
On Saturday, February 28, SilvermanAcampora partner Jerry Luckman will be lecturing at the St. John’s University School of Law Spring 2015 CLE Weekend. Jerry will be presenting during a session entitled “The Basics of Bankruptcy – A Guide for Practitioners.”
The Continuing Legal Education weekend at St. John’s is designed for both newly admitted and veteran attorneys and will delve into numerous legal fields such as matrimonial, employment, and intellectual property law. Jerry will be joined by a prestigious faculty that includes both prominent local attorneys and St. John’s University professors.
For more information about the program, please click here.
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King’s words apply in every aspect of our lives and, unfortunately, they are as true today as they were when he said them almost fifty years ago. In running, and in business, and in life, there are no easy answers or half-baked solutions. So, today, in honor of Dr. King, we are going to think. For some of you, this installment of The Route is going to hurt – a lot. I apologize in advance.
Carl Sandburg, the great American poet said that “it is necessary … for a man to go away by himself … to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?’”
At the beginning of every year, I look back on my running achievements and failures. This year, I trained for the 2014 New York City Marathon – an achievement. I also got faster – another achievement. One week before the race, I busted up my ankle on my last training run and had to defer to 2015 – not exactly a failure but certainly a disappointment. More to the point, despite almost 1100 miles of running, I didn’t lose a single pound – a major failure. That’s where I’ve been. I also look forward. This year, I want to stick to the diet, do all of my cross-training, get faster, and finish New York City. That’s where I’m going.
Every year, I do the same thing for SilvermanAcampora. The last week of the year, I evaluate how well the Firm implemented financial and other goals. I look well beyond profit and loss. I think about all of it – technology, personnel, marketing, physical plant, client development, industry issues and trends, and the Long Island economy. I evaluate how the Firm did in 2014 and how we can improve in 2015.
Before you run a mile this year and before you open your doors for the first day of business in 2015, you must ask yourself Sandburg’s questions. Don’t take the easy way out and don’t be afraid of the answers. I can’t do this for you.
Go ahead. Take a minute. Better yet, find yourself a quiet rock and take 60 minutes.
See you next week.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain.
Following ole Mark’s advice, let’s get started.
All good businessmen are runners or, at least runners at heart. Don’t believe me?
Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a sub-four minute mile, famously noted that “every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the fastest lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve.”
Sir Roger’s point was simple — “It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running.”
Sound familiar? Regardless of whether you’re a lion or a gazelle, if you’re in business, you best be running. Otherwise, you’re lunch.
Runners and business people are motivated by the same things and experience the same self-doubt. The first installment of The Route wouldn’t be complete without quoting the great Steve Prefontaine. The quintessential American runner channeled the soul of American business people everywhere when he said “you have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the year, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.”
When I started running, I never dreamed of the marathon. When I started my legal career, I never saw myself as eventually managing a 25 lawyer (and growing) Long Island law firm. Yet, every morning I get up, run my miles, and care for the well-being of 55 employees and their families. Like Pre, I have thousands of reasons why I do it. I’m sure that you do too. But, in the end, in running and in business, it’s simply what I do. And, all that I want is to get better at both.
So, if you’re looking for a running/business buddy, lace up your shoes; I’ll see you next week.