inspiration, Motivation & Mindset

Running a Business is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri’s Strategic Symposium. This year’s keynote speaker was Jill Tupper, an international motivational speaker with boundless energy and a spirit that is infectious. Her approach is honest and captivating and left me feeling motivated. She spoke on Leadership. I thought her speech was so applicable to what Think Creative does that I have spun her original talk about leadership to the new tune of small business. Tupper's points are paraphrased below, but with an emphasis on business. 

Running a Business is a Marathon, Not a Sprint  |  Think Creative

What is Your Why?

Whether you run a race or own a business, you have to have a reason to do it. There has to be a motivation behind you putting one foot in front of the other. 

  • What gets you going? 
  • What do you want out of work and life? 
  • What did you “actually” come for? 
  • What ignites your passion? 
  • What is it that you are all about?
  • Does that why, line up with your business?

You have to stay clear on that “why” and reflect on it often. Paint your “why” for others and let them see “why” you do what you do. People have always hungered for something bigger than themselves. What is your reason?

Be the Pacer

You are strong and you are capable. You are smart and you are able. You can do whatever you set your mind to. Set the rhythm and set the pace for others to track against. Be the example, not the follower. Everyone has his or her own pace, you just need to find your own. Embrace your pace. 

Believe You Can

Everyone has experienced grief and loss. Everyone has seen a loved one die. Everyone has struggled with disease or watched someone struggle. Remind yourself you are no different and no matter how low your low is that there is always more. Think of this as your resistance training. The bigger the struggle the more growth you will have!

You are meant to make a difference in the world. You are meant to leave your own mark. No one else can make the same mark that you can. It can’t be delegated and it can’t be forgotten. 

Recognize how blessed you are. See your victories and celebrate along the way. Stop believing you can’t and just do it. You are the one building the foundation for your business to be GREAT! Love on it, take care of it, exercise it and learn more about it. 

Set Your Sights On the Finish Line

Whether you can draw with markers or paint a beautiful picture, it is irrelevant. You are creative; you just haven’t tapped into it yet. You certainly know how to imagine every worst possible situation. So why not instead think about every possible AMAZING thing that could happen for your business and imagine that instead. Picture the possibilities. Give yourself 26.2 reasons to brag!

Set your sights on the finish line:

  • What do you see?
  • How do you look?
  • How do you feel?
  • What have you accomplished?

It is so easy to be distracted by the world we live in. We need to picture exactly how this could look in the end. Build an inspiration board; create some short and long-term goals. Get started on a plan. Legitimize what you are doing – even if that means starting to just believe in yourself. The body achieves what the mind believes. 

Visualize Where You are Headed

Now don’t just say you are going to do it… DO IT! And remind yourself often. Pin it up to a board in your office. Write yourself notes and leave them taped to your monitor or mirror. Leave a friendly reminder in your wallet. The more you can remind yourself of what you want, the easier that finish line is to reach.

Start to identify possibilities and ways doors can open. Stop saying “I can’t”, start saying “I will”. Illuminate the path you want to take and go for it. 

Find Your Cheering Section

Unfortunately in business you might lose a friend or two. Not everyone we started down this path with will be here through the rest of the journey. Find your cheering section. Who pumps you up? Who believes you can do it? Who helps hold you accountable? Who is your “running” buddy that gets down and dirty with you?

Often, we lean on friends and family and unfortunately they aren’t always your cheering crowd. Some will try to shelter you from your potential - either jealous they aren’t going after it themselves or scared that you can’t do it. Defend yourself and ward off the unbelievers. They will only make your journey harder and make you wallow in self-doubt. You need to believe you can make a difference. Everyone is going to give you a reason not to. Judgment is a precious waste of energy. Turn judgment into validation. 

Beat Your Best

Quit comparing yourself to every other runner in the race. The only one you need to beat is yourself. Create a personal record and strive to beat your own goals over and over again

“The greatest achievement is to outperform yourself”. – Denis Waitley

Build Your Core

Whether lifting weights or lifting the soul, you have to continue to work on that core. Your core is your lifeblood. If you don’t feed it, you won’t have the stamina to continue. What are you feeding the mind? Doubts for Dinner? Fill your body instead with healthy, beautiful thoughts and fill yourself with truth. Cultivate a training mindset. Though it can be tough, it is worth doing. 

  • How can you continue to feed your inspiration?
  • What motivates you?
  • How can you give yourself some grace and understanding?

Get on the Starting Line

You can plan and train for weeks, months or years. But, unless you show up to start it was all for not. Come prepared, stretched, geared up and ready for the long fight. You may get blisters, chaffing and some even more embarrassing ailments, however, other people running the same race with the same end goal will surround you. If you are ignited, people will be excited. 

Start strong, but know it will be a long journey. Prepare for the long haul and beware of potholes. Keep a steady pace, this isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon. 


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