Run your own race for business success

Nina KaufmanArticles, Big-Picture Strategy, Leading Your Business, Operations & SystemsLeave a Comment

I ran the Tunnel to Towers 5K race this past weekend. It’s one of a number of 5K (3.1 mile) races that I run during the year with my husband, Joe. Maybe one every 4-6 weeks.

Now, I’m not trying to come home with any medals. I run them to stay in shape, have fun with Joe, and support causes I care about. To train, I drag myself to the gym a few times a week (sometimes not quite that) and fiddle about on the treadmill. Stretch out a bit. And call it a success.

Armando, Joe, and Nina at Tunnel to Towers

By contrast, Joe and I have become friendly with Armando, a NYC Police Officer we see at races often. Armando stands out because he’s a flag-bearer. That means he runs the entire length of the race holding up an American flag on a pole. And he’s super-fast—he blows by most people as if we were standing still.

Armando has a different goal. He runs a race every weekend. And often, those are half-marathon races. He trains by running laps in a swimming pool with weights around his waist. I can’t even imagine what he does to strengthen his biceps, triceps, and chest to hold a full-size flag aloft while running for 15-20 minutes.


No surprise, you don’t get Armando-type results doing Nina-type training.

But does that mean Nina-training was a failure?

It all comes down to your definition of success.

What’s yours?

For their businesses, some of my clients focus on revenues. Profits. Growing customer base. Team satisfaction/lack of turnover. Time freed up. Number of engaged subscribers. The marquis value of clients serviced. Steady growth. Or some combination thereof as an indicator of success.

When they don’t reach their goals, it’s usually for three reasons:

  • Clarity. They didn’t carefully define the goal or were ambivalent about achieving it. Like the crisis communications consultant who said he wanted meteoric growth, although sidelined supporting his wife though cancer treatment.
  • Strategy. Their plan wouldn’t achieve the goal, or at least not in the time frame they expected (This happens a lot with clients seeking online subscribers).
  • Systems. They took action sporadically, not systematically. Like my bookkeeping client who wanted to expand her network of bookkeepers but didn’t make the time to meet or vet them carefully.

In all cases there’s a gap for these business owners. A gap between the actions they’re taking and the results they want. Which they can’t see because they’re too close to it.

So what’s your definition of success?

Are you running your own race … or someone else’s?


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