So Where Do I Start?

Finishline hug at Ironman Florida 2004

Whenever I tell someone that I am doing the Ironman Triathlon, the first thing they ask me is, “Why in the world would you want to do that?”

The second question they ask me is, “How do you get ready for something like that?” 

I will address both of those questions in due time.  But first, lets look at the order in which these key questions are asked, as that will answer the important question, “So Where Do I Start?”

Whether you are deciding to compete in  the Ironman Triathlon, or deciding to strategically address a concern within your business, the first question you must answer is, “Why do I want to sacrifice the time, money and resources to this particular task?”

Defining the Why is often more difficult than the How!  That’s because unlike any other question you have to answer, the Why is different for every single person and circumstance.

In 2004, I decided to take on the challenge of an Ironman Triathlon for the first time.   I remember going to my new coach and immediately asking where I should start in my training.  Much to my surprise, my coach suggested I first spend some time defining my true Why for wanting to do an Ironman.  There was no question the training for this race would require a lot of sacrifices by both my family and me.  But without first determining a solid Why, that goal would lose its luster and likely never be achieved.

I recently looked back at a journal I kept while preparing for Ironman, and I was reminded of my Why.  During the coverage of the 2003 Ironman World Championship on NBC, one of the athletes said, “Ironman Triathlon is about ordinary people doing something extraordinary.”  From that point forward, my Why became very simple.  I wanted to do something extraordinary. Not because I wanted to show others I could do something extraordinary, but because I wanted to prove that to myself.   (I think the photo above confirms that I chose the right WHY)

So let’s look at how this applies to running your business.

Let’s assume you have evaluated your business operations and decided to commit to focusing on safety, and decreasing the number of injuries to your employees.  Before you focus on How to do that, it is best to define Why you should do that.  Perhaps one of the following reasons is your Why:  

  • Decrease your insurance premiums (profitability)
  • Decrease your lost productivity that typically results from workplace injuries – (OSHA estimates the indirect $ cost to your business to be 4-11 Xs the amount paid out by your insurance carrier)
  • You risk losing business because your Experience Modifiier Rate is above 1.00 (Many General Contractors are no longer hiring companies with an EMR > 1.00)
  • Improve employee morale and your company culture
  • Concern for the safety and well being of your employees
  • Avoid OSHA fines and penalties
  • Your reason………

All of the above are great reasons.  But just as my reason for doing my first Ironman triathlon was personal,  your Why is also a personal one.  In other words, a qualified professional can likely help you with How, but only you can define your Why.

It seems like such a simple concept, but more often than not, I see it overlooked.

Whatever it is you have decided to improve in your business, or maybe even your personal life, I would recommend you follow the advice of my coach.  Don’t immediately jump to figuring out How you are going to accomplish your goal.  First make sure you know your Why!

Our next post will begin to answer the question, “How do I …”