Global Citizen here, and I’m going to tell you about yesterday.

Yesterday I ran┬áparticipated in a 5k race. Why would I do such a thing? My friend David and I had made a list of goals that we would like to accomplish this quarter, and in addition to some business goals, he we decided we should have some physical goals on the list too. So, “Finish a 5k” was placed on that list. No problem – it’s easy to write down an additional item on a list.

Fast forward 2 weeks ago.

On one of our regularly scheduled touch points, David mentions that there is a 5k race happening in the neighborhood and it was only 10 USD to register. Damn! He took away 2 objection points there, inconvenience and cost!. “Do you want to register?”. <grit teeth style=”forced smile”> Sure, sounds like fun! </grit teeth> Well, here we go.

Fast forward to yesterday.

Not a single session at the gym. Not a stretch. A jumping jack. I might have thought about touching my toes once. The race was scheduled for 19:00 and it was now 13:00, and I was starting to sweat (both in the physical sense and in the mental sense, don’t ask). So I did the only thing I knew how. I googled it. What do you search? “Finishing a 5k without any training”. A few articles came up, and I settled on one, that couldn’t have summed it up better. There is no way you are going to be physically ready, but you can definitely get in mentally ready.

Race time

Usain BoltI arrived 1 hour early just to see what I was in for. Registration. Check. Pin my number to my chest using tiny little pins. Check. Now what? Oh, there’s David! Awesome. Some other people I know. Awesome. Friends. Check! Let’s do this thing. We all line up. I learn about the cool tech in the number that accurately records your time. Awesome. Let’s go!

Air-horn goes off.

I’m running. Holy @(!@#$&%* I’m running! Ok cool cool. I got this. I’m running! Is that wind in my hair? Why yes. YES IT IS! I’m running so fast that there is WIND in my HAIR?!? oh. no. false alarm, there is wind in everyone’s hair. It’s a bit windy outside because we are running near a body of water. Oh. Whatever. I’m running.

Ok, so let these people pass no problem. I’m still looking good. I’m feeling good. Oh, you want to pass also, no problem, go ahead good sir.

Ouch. Ankle is hurting. Shin is hurting. Knees are hurting — no problem, I’m almost finished and I’ll be able to do all those unnecessary stretches that I saw people doing before the start of the race. Perhaps they were not so “unnecessary”. Whatever, I’m almost done here, I’ll lick my wounds later. What’s this sign say “1 MILE marker”. ONE MILE! is that one mile to go? or one mile left? or whatever, neither scenario is good.

Gloves are off, I’m finishing this thing. I am finishing. ONE MILE!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You can do it, put one foot in front of the next one. “2 MILE marker”. Ok, now, we’re almost done, 5k, 2.2 miles. I got this. Only .2 to go. More walking. This is the longest point 0.2 miles I’ve ever walked. WAIT. A. MINUTE. 5,000 meters, carry the 1, i before e, except after c, the rains in spain come only in the plains. WAIT! 5k is over THREE miles!

Find my happy place. Where is my happy place!? Oh, look, a guy on a bike. “Hey bud, you ok?” No, I’m not ok! I just realized that not only can I not run, but I can’t do long division either! Yeah, I’m fine. Wait, what is he doing? is he picking up cones? Why would he be picking up cones?

OH. HELL. NO. I’m LAST. I’m freakin’ last.

He bikes past me. I’m finishing. I’m finishing. I AM FINISHING. Oh, look a short cut, I could just run down this…. NO. DO IT. Ok. “3 MILE marker”. Awesome! Here we go!

Hey look, the course-lady is clapping for me. “That’s nice of you, thank you for clapping”. Fat man rounds the corner, down the straightaway, oh look it’s David! and Louis! and Andres! and Shawn! yeah baby! I GOT THIS!

I don’t care what they tell you. You don’t need a TIMEX race clock to tell you – “Dude, you are last, but you finished.”

Why am I telling you this story?

I had a lot of time to think about this during the race (over 45 minutes to be exactly, but who’s counting). Business is exactly the same. Start-ups are exactly the same. It takes some skills. It takes you having a few friends along the way. It takes you drinking some water and eating some berries (because all the apples were already gone by the time I finished). But before any of the self-help books and 4-hour this, and 90-day that, business plan competitions, incubators, accelerators can be effective — you have to believe, in your mind, you need to KNOW that you are going to finish.

I have the pleasure of working with startups, with small businesses, large mutli-nationals, the entire gambit really. Some do better than others, some are even “distressed”. At the end of the day, part of the role of founder, advisor, capital partner, or even operating partner is belief that you will finish. A/R aging, Cash Flow problems, Liabilities outstanding — equate these to your shin bone, knee bone, muscles you didn’t even know you had hurting. You could stop, turn around, go home. Or you could power through and finish.

As it turns out, David finished 1st in his age group. I might not have won a prize today, but my friends did, and they are on my team, so look out. This isn’t over.

Global Citizen Out!