Jones Business Solutions Ltd | The best you can be
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The best you can be

The best you can be

Recently my Smart Books business held its first ever workshop – ‘Being Your Best’. One of the sessions was with me sharing my journey so far. I looked at some of the key life happenings that have helped shape and drive me forward with being in business. Growing up in rural NZ, being the oldest of 7 with a Catholic upbringing, having a Rotary Exchange year at age 16 in Johannesburg, marrying at 19 – these are all experiences that have contributed to who I am today.

I love sport – both watching and participating, however not overly talented in team sports as a child. I was in lower grade teams for hockey and netball and was never going to be a competent swimmer. Part of being in teams did however require a base level of fitness. Turns out I liked running! This resulted in taking part in athletics and being fortunate enough to be in a team of teens under the guidance of a ‘Lydiard’ style coach. With Ray Goggin’s (since passed away) guidance and encouragement I achieved the very best I could.

Reflecting on this for my February workshop got me thinking how my athletics performance has contributed to how I behave and perform in business.

Training

There are no shortcuts to success! I was a 400-metre runner. To sustain the speedwork training I needed miles on my legs – I ran 100km+ a week. This included 10 miles every Sunday with Ray – dead slow up and down hills on a gravel road. This created stamina and the capability for 600m repetitions in preparation for the summer season.

Being in business requires training too. Working ‘on’ the business typically requires learning, upskilling, and getting to grips with the many hats business owners need to wear. Some of this we enjoy, some less so. Setting goals and then formulating a plan to execute them is required. Working to a plan, reviewing, and amending it is important too. Doing all aspects of what is required is needed to get optimum results.

Our 4 x 100m relay team never lost in Hawke’s Bay competitions, despite not having the fastest sprinters. What we did have were flawless baton changes – we practiced with our eyes shut and with precise timings. I acquired proper hurdling and shot-putting techniques too. I learnt that practice and dedication to getting the technical aspects right could make you go faster and further with the same amount of effort. I was also encouraged to attempt and enter other events, not just my usual 200m and 400m ones.

‘Best Practice’ is a term I regularly use in the work I do and when working with business owners and their teams. For me this is about finding the most efficient and effective methods, continuous improvement and fine-tuning of procedures, ongoing learning and development, while maintaining and demonstrating strong ethics and professional standards

Team

Athletics is largely an individual sport, but you also become part of a supportive team. Coaches, peers, parents, and friends all provide encouragement along the way. Without my coach Ray I would never have had the training schedules to follow or ran as far as I did on Sundays. I was very shy at school but made real and life-long friendships with my fellow athletes. Having that shared interest and being there to cheer each other on really made a difference.

Even as a sole operator in business you need a support crew! Professional colleagues, supportive clients and suppliers, coaches and mentors all provide ideas and advice that is sound and relevant. This provides real momentum to keep driving your business forward. Reciprocating this type of support is beneficial too – often discussing a challenge or possible options for a colleague give you new ideas for your own business – bonus! Asking for help or gaining expertise from your peers is something most people are happy to provide – don’t be shy – no such thing as a stupid question! Be generous with sharing your own time and skills too – you get to grow your own confidence and reputation.

Recovery

Overtraining happens! Overworking in business happens too! Overtraining leads to underperformance, overworking can lead to burnout. Success comes from training and working hard – but also requires recovery time. For athletes this could be a day with no week with no training or interval days with light training only. For business owners this could be weekends off, short breaks during their workday, or scheduling family time into their work calendar. Recovery is easy to overlook – create small rewards for progress made. Those little wins can be just as significant as hitting that big target!

Results

In sport success and failure can happen simultaneously (think winning a race but performing a time well below your best). Competition for me was improving my race times rather than needing to ‘beat someone’. I am competitive – but more with myself than against others. After 3 years I reached my goal of a sub 60-second 400m = result!

How does this translate to business? Measuring and reviewing results should be about several factors – not just the dollars. Client satisfaction and retention, positive staff feedback, level of innovation, community engagement, and sustainability impacts are all non-financial measures that can be measured. One race does not define a sportsperson’s career, one year does not define a businesses overall success.

To sum up

Those early learnings played a bigger part in my later life than I realised at the time. Planning, doing, and reviewing the training have developed good work habits. Developing good techniques creates ongoing improvement and opportunities. Don’t under-estimate the power of having a support crew.

Rest in Peace Ray. Your influence has left an indelible mark on my journey.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Wayne Gretzky – Canadian former professional ice hockey player and coach