Saturday, March 24, 2012

Commitment To Focus, Dedication and Discipline

"No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No stream or gas drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined."  - Harry Emerson Fosdick

I have been listening Bob Proctor's Freedom Series on my training rides (not necessarily a great idea!) when Bob read Fosdick's quote. I stopped, scrolled back and listened to it a couple of times. To me, this is one of the best success formulas I've heard. To me, this is what it means:

Focus - the ability to stay on task and not let yourself get distracted and off-track. In business, sometimes it is easier to do emails as opposed to picking up the phone to call a prospect or a challenging customer. On the bike, it is the ability to stay focused on doing what it takes to achieve your goal. You have to commit to the goal and stay focused on doing what it takes to achieve that goal.

Dedication - commit yourself to putting in that extra phone call, to making the extra effort that your colleagues may not be willing to do. When riding, it is dedicating time required to achieve the goal, whether it is a personal one or even a team goal. If you choose to do, then commit the time to doing it right.

Discipline - in business and in sport, I see as the one of the most difficult tasks. It takes a serious commitment to get and stay disciplined. On New Years, many people set goals to lose weight or go to the gym. However, what they lack is the commitment to stay disciplined to those "resolutions" and, after a month or so, fall back into the ways of old. If you want to success ,you must dedicate yourself to achieving that goal and doing what it takes, day in and day out, to achieve that goal. In business, this is even more true if you work in a home or remote office. You have nobody but yourself to hold you accountable.

In 1988, I had multiple short, medium, long term and dream goals. Three of those goals were to be a National Champion, make the US National Team and the Olympic team (my dream goal), there were days when my wife thought I was crazy. I would go out on training rides all types of weather, one day even trying to ride when there was over four inches of freshly fallen snow on the ground! I committed myself to staying focused on my goals, dedicated myself to doing the work necessary to achieve those goals and was disciplined to doing my work every day to get better. All of this commitment resulted in me nearly achieving ALL of the goals that I had set at the beginning of the season!

When you commit, you focus. You focus your energy, your effort, your actions on the very thing to which you have committed. You are willing to take action without any distractions, action that delivers the results you want.


Last Saturday morning, as the group I was riding with was heading uphill, I came up behind a rider on his time trial bike. This isn't unusual in Southern California as there are a number of triathletes and cyclists who ride these aero steeds. I caught a quick glance as I passed him, made a mental note about his poor position and moved on. The note didn't come to mind again until today when I watched Cadel Evans in the final time trial stage of the 2012 Tirreno Adriatico stage race in Italy.
Now, Cadel is an awesome rider but what I saw today was surprising. Here is a seasoned professional who pays close attention to detail with what appeared to be poor positioning on his time trail bike. If you look at the photo, you will see that he is sitting more upright and his front area is wide open and creating a lot of wind resistance. When these aero bars were introduced in 1988 by Scott, they were designed to mirror the position of a downhill skier, arms out front with a narrow frontal area for aerodynamic purpose.
Which brings me back to Saturday's ride. Because many riders have a road bike and an aero bike, they will often set both bikes up with the same position. However, in doing so, your aero position becomes extremely inefficient. It was clear that this rider had tried to set up his position to match his road bike position, something that I was able to see easily when riding from behind.
My message - there is no one size fits all. In business, we cannot expect that a sales strategy that has led to a successful sale is going to work time and again. What worked last year that led to record revenues may not work this year due to economic changes, customer buying cycles, etc.
If you want to be the most efficient, it is important to have the proper situation or setup. Whether it is in business, sport or life, we need to be adaptable yet attentive to making minor changes that will lead to our success.