Under a Rock

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity for a business expansion.  It was the perfect storm because we were in our peak season, revenue was high as was fatigue.  I didn’t understand why we had the opportunity for expansion and I searched out another business owner who was leaving the location.  I found him and listened for a very painful hour  in which he detailed all the things that were going wrong in his business.  Fortunately, he helped talk me out of a potential expansion. 

I started thinking after the meeting about his business.  As triathletes and business owners, I find we often live under a rock.  There is no transparency or mechanism to report on how we are doing (think BP or the recent effect of high frequency traders on the stock market).  It is difficult to get help, advice or insight when we most need it.  What if the business owner I met with had someone to tell him your store looks dated and dirty?  What if he had someone to tell him that his menu is rooted in the 80’s?  What if he had someone to tell him that you have too many staff standing around waiting when they could be cleaning?  No, I didn’t tell him any of these things!  Why?  He never asked.  Really.  Not one question for me in our entire conversation. 

In my business, I am fortunate to have a management team that values/demands transparency.  The team shares information formally and informally that creates an accurate picture of how we are doing.  When someone on the team does not honor our value of transparency, someone else will quickly help him or her to reboot.  Technology has helped this process greatly by fully implementing document scanning, instant messaging, twitter, text messaging and email.  Every location and member of the management team is a keystroke away. 

The financial nuances of a small privately held business are much less transparent.  For that I rely on my accountant and my best friend.  Thirteen years ago, I was invited to sit on a panel of woman entrepreneurs at Indiana University.  A few seats down was another woman with a local business.  To make a long ongoing story short, we met and immediately connected.  Soon after, we started meeting once a week to talk business.  We continue these meetings to this day.  Our meetings are about transparency on a level we cannot share with anyone else.  We certainly talk about the successes but we spend most of our time dissecting when we have paid “tuition” or what other people might refer to as “mistakes or errors.”  Together we are a force of nature and despite what anyone else thinks, we do use our powers only for good!

Sometimes in training, I worry that I lack the same level of transparency.  Having a coach helps tremendously but it is not the coach’s job nor is he paid enough to discuss training ad nauseum.  I know that one of the reasons I lack the level of transparency with my training is often guilt related.  I have a great life and I have/make the time to train.  I lack the peer group that understands the time spent training, the why and the where I am going. 

The problem with training under a rock is that when you are on your journey or training plan, fatigue clouds judgement.  Things get fuzzy and you can easily get derailed.  Transparency keeps you on track.  As my training group dissipated with my changes in training, I lost the people that I shared a deep level of transparency.  It is pretty difficult to find a peer group of women long course triathletes in their 40’s! 

How do I know I am under a rock?  I do too much.  I want to go hard instead of go steady.  I go too easy when I should go hard.  I forget to eat enough to support an increase in training.  I eat too much when I am not training enough.  I want to race when I should train.  I go to easy when I should go hard.  The list of contradictions and pitfalls are endless.  When you are under a rock, there is no one to help you identify the subtle shifts that can derail your training OR take you to the next level. 

I don’t have an easy answer on how to crawl out from under my rock.  I need to work harder on the transparency and continuing to find others willing to talk about their training progress and “tuition.”  We could all use a little more light in the darkness…

Training Update:  I just finished a two week block of “bike often!”  12 out of 14 days spent in the saddle.  I am back running about 35 miles per week and swimming at least 10,000 meters per week.  The outdoor long course pool is finally open and I look forward to improved weather for lots of meters outside.  Training has been wonderful and I feel strong and healthy!  This week I have some travel and training becomes slightly disrupted.  I will be running quite a bit and I plan on having a good blog piece next time about my adventures.  As of today, Wisconsin is 117 days away. 

Grab Bag:

*  In Boston, I purchased a pair of Yurbuds.  My iPod earbuds constantly fall out when running and these are a simple fitted silicone cover that keeps the buds in my ears!  Best $20 I have spent in a long time.
*  I am considering selling my road bike to a friend.  I never ride it and it sits in my office collecting dust as a giant carbon paper weight. 
*  The Tour of California started this week.  I love watching it every night.  I am very excited that Chrissie Wellington will be competing in the Time Trial.  I think she will help separate the women from the girls!

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