Tech Talk column with Keith Macintyre

Tech Talk: Training for triathlon is good for business

While not technically a ‘tech’ article, the Penticton Triathlon season is kicking into gear this weekend, so I think this a timely subject.

Over the last year my business has been growing fast. It has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. At the beginning of the year I set a goal to complete my first triathlon at 40. I’ve wanted to complete one since I was a teenager, but never felt I could run and some injuries in my 20’s caused me to lose swimming and exercise in general. About five years ago I was at the Riverside Starbuck’s and I saw someone in their 60’s clearly in town for Ironman, and another in a scooter and unable to walk. I decided that I could choose which one I wanted to be and the time to choose was now.

What does this have to do with business? I’m a firm believer in setting unattainable goals personally and professionally. There are studies that show if you set a goal five to 10 times more than what you actually think you can achieve, you are more likely to achieve more than if you had set the original goal and it feels better achieving a percentage of a larger goal than 100 per cent of a smaller goal.

It shifts your mindset into thinking about the steps you need to take to achieve the larger goal, and you end up achieving more than you thought you could. For example, last year I set a goal to run 1,000 kilometres. Completely outlandish for my fitness level and amount of running I was doing at the time. I started thinking about how many kilometres I’d have to run in a week. I started choosing to run on the treadmill instead of the exercise bike at the gym, and joined a couple of running groups. By the end of the year, I ran over 650 km, probably 200 to 300 km more than I would have if I had set a smaller goal. This year, I’ve already ran 500 km and should get close to 1,000.

I changed my goal from one to 10 triathlons this year. Obviously, I’m not going to enter 10 triathlons in one year. However, it did focus my attention and I swam every second day for most of the year, did two warm-up Splash ‘n Dash races put on by the Penticton Triathlon Club, three 10 km races, a duathlon and my first triathlon in May in Kelowna. My second will be in Penticton on July 16, and I may do a third in Kelowna next month. Two more than if I set a goal of one.

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The other pleasant effect this had, aside from the obvious health benefits, is it gave me something to focus on other than my business. Growing a business, hiring employees, delivering products are things that can become all-consuming. When I was younger, I would have focused too much on the business and less on personal improvement. I now know that having a long-term difficult goal such as a triathlon, allows me to disconnect from the business and has improved my strategic and long-term thinking dramatically. It might seem counterintuitive to spend less time consciously thinking about my business, but it is extremely effective.

One of my 10x goals is to have 250 talented people working for me and 30 new tech companies in Penticton next year. Unattainable? Probably, but I’m curious to see where these goals are at in one year’s time.

Join us for the next TechBrew at Mile Zero Wine Bar, Friday July 21 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Keith MacIntyre is a tech columnist for the Penticton Western News and the owner of Big Bear Software Inc.

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