After completing the Oxfam 100km Trailwalker, Carbon's co-founder Jamie Davison shares his experience.
Who would have thought that walking 100km would have so much in common with running a business? With just over 30 hours to complete the Oxfam 100km Trailwalker, Jamie had heaps of time to reflect, and he shares his journey in this article.
Last month, I completed the Oxfam 100km Trailwalker
; being one of only 18 individuals to have done it five times. The Trailwalker is a fantastic initiative and a life-long experience for everyone who participates. The trail here in Perth takes you through some amazing scenery in the hills; a reminder of how spectacular our state really is. It’s also great for team building. This year I was joined by three others from Carbon and nothing says team bonding like losing toe nails together! Sharing stories out of the office gave us a chance to get to know each other away from the usual work talk and even learn things we didn’t know about ourselves.
Throughout the 100km, I had a lot of time to think. 30+ hours in fact. As the various emotions were coming and going, I reflected on how the walk relates very closely to running a business.
As with anything in life, personal or business, the more prepared you are, the easier the execution of the task will be. In business terms, business owners spend heaps of time preparing, whether that be preparing a new client proposal, preparing for the launch of a new product or service, or preparing for a presentation. Lack of preparation can cause you to fail with these tasks.
The same can be said for the Oxfam Trailwalker. Walking 100km is tough even with a mountain of training beforehand, but if you haven’t prepared both your mind and body, the chances of passing the finish line would be fairly slim. Much like familiarising yourself with the technical equipment required to connect your laptop, speaker and microphone ready to do a presentation, your feet need to get used to the walking boots, and your knees, hips, whole body in fact, need to be prepared for a long grind.
That being said, even doing the biggest amount of preparation beforehand doesn’t guarantee that things will run as planned. At the end of the day, your mental game needs to be strong to get you through the darkest parts of the trek. You need to take it checkpoint by checkpoint and one step at a time.
You’ll encounter an array of obstacles when running a business. It’s a mental challenge, so break these obstacles up into achievable goals and tackle them one by one. In the walk, our team consisted of four, but due to various reasons, only two of us passed the finish line. Instead of seeing two of our team mates drop out as demotivating, we adapted to the change and continued towards our goal regardless of the hiccups along the way. Similarly, we were aiming for a time of 24 hours, but we ended up taking 32 hours. Generally, in business, things take longer than you expect. Whether it’s getting that new client over the line or a business loan being approved. Keep your head in the game and don’t get disheartened.
Even the most successful business guru didn’t make it alone. A strong and supportive team will always outperform a high performing individual. Savvy business owners don’t try to wear the multiple hats required to run a business. Instead, they build a strong team and reach out for further support if needed.
During the walk, having a strong team is more important than ever. You go through waves of emotion throughout the 100km. Checkpoint 1 at 8.8km – there is a buzz in the air and everyone is loving life and proud to be part of the 100s of walkers raising funds for a worthy charity. Checkpoint 3 at 39.km – your body is starting to feel it, but your team mates seem to be speeding through easily, so you continue to push. Post 70km is when you question whose stupid idea it was to walk 100km and do you really need to reach that finish line? At this point you really start to lean on your team mates for emotional support, and you provide the same support in return when they need it. With a weak team behind you, it’s likely you’d all quit. As a business owner, build a strong team who have the same vision as you and want to cross the finish line with you.
Don’t be afraid of hard work
Being a business owner requires a lot of hard work and your mind is constantly in business mode. No more 9-5 week day shifts – business owners are on call pretty much 24/7. Whether it’s working late to meet a deadline, working weekends so you can clear some of your emails, or catching red eye flights to a conference in another state, more and more of your personal life is taken up doing business, and that can get pretty exhausting.
The same can be said for the Oxfam walk. 24+ hours of walking, also throughout the night, is exhausting. With both business and the walk, always remind yourself of the why to keep you going when you feel like quitting.
Enjoy the rewards that hard work brings
Passing that finish line for the fifth time, I said (also for the fifth time!) that I’m throwing my walking sticks away and never doing such a ridiculously exhausting, time consuming, body damaging thing again. Yet after a good night’s sleep, a couple of days to reflect on the huge achievement I’d once again completed, and receiving praise from those around me, I remembered why in fact I put myself through it. The most exhilarating experiences in life, whether that be running a successful business or walking 100km, don’t come easy. Work hard, keep your head in the game, and you’ll achieve whatever goals you set in life.
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