5 Business Lessons from an Unexpected Long Walk
Over the weekend, I set off with our three dogs for a routine walk across the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. It was a largely sunny day, and the fields were lush and welcoming. Apart from a few fields of cattle and sheep, everything looked perfect for our six-mile ramble.
So, why did I arrive home more than five hours later after a 12-mile hike up and down steep hills that left me near my physical limits? And what business lessons can we learn from the simple things in life?
1. Make sure you have a goal and a well-defined path to get there.
While I planned my route on an Ordnance Survey map, it’s very easy to find yourself on the wrong track when you are in the middle of the country with few guideposts or markers (I only passed one small grouping of houses in five hours). After a while, one hill looks much like the next. In business, it’s important to have a clear, written plan that you follow – but also to be nimble enough to adapt when the unexpected happens, while keeping the end-goal in sight.
2. Expect the unexpected.
A 750mm plastic bottle of water was not enough for me and the dogs. If there is a chance you will be out for hours, you need to be prepared with salt or energy drinks, as well as food. You are planning your business to be long-term, so make sure that you have the supplies to get there. Start with adequate funding, and the right mix of experience and talent, but most importantly attitude. Business is never on a straight line to success.
3. Train for success. And pace yourself.
Fortunately, I’ve been doing a fair amount of walking over the past few weeks but it wasn’t easy to get up that last hill as the sun started setting. When we got home, sharp leg cramps quickly set in. It’s good to push yourself, but learn to pace yourself too. If a business sets unrealistic goals, it won’t achieve them. Make sure you have enough resources and stamina to realistically achieve your goals.
4. Use the right equipment.
Wearing a decent pair of hiking boots is easy enough, but not putting on the right layers to cope with changing weather conditions, sweat, fatigue, etc., can make it a little harder. In business, the most important resources you have are your team. Make sure you spend the right amount of time choosing the best people, and select a team, not a group of individuals. This is the equipment that is going to help you reach the summits your business aspires to.
5. A little motivation goes a long way.
When I lay down on the last hill to regain some energy, the dogs were well out in front of me. But the most independent of our dogs – Allie – turned and saw me resting some 50 meters behind her, and came running back. She looked over me and licked my face. It wasn’t much but it was enough to get me going again. Sometimes, we don’t need huge pay raises or public acknowledgement; just a quiet and sincere word of encouragement.
So that’s how I spent the afternoon – learning life lessons with our three rescue dogs. And if they could speak, I’m sure they could tell a few stories about their times in the woods of Georgia, where they were picked up separately two years ago as abandoned babies!