Yesterday’s workout was very challenging for me, because it was easy.
My new cycling coach instructed me to ride for an hour with a heart rate between 137 and 158–what endurance athletes call “Zone 2”.
My resting heart rate is around 62. But I LOVE CYCLING. When I hear my feet snap into the pedals of my Scott Gravel, my heart rate jumps by 10 beats per minute. And most of my workouts are hard, so the little dose of anxiety bumps my heart up another gear. I was coming off some huge personal bests, and was eager to see even more progress. And I had just watched Julian Alaphilippe win a Tour stage on a solo breakout. I wanted to go fast and hard. But I listened to my coach.
For the next hour, I coasted a lot. I slowed my climbs to try and keep my heart rate low. I listened to Bon Jovi (no joke) instead of my usual playlist. It was extremely challenging to slow down. But I did it, because I already knew the value of going slow. I learned it from my first business mentor.
In 2009, I was broke and exhausted. My ego was gone. That made me an empty shell: I was finally ready to receive help. When I made my first appointment with Denis (my first real mentor), I expected him to give me a silver bullet marketing strategy. After all, I thought I knew my problem: I needed more clients.
Instead, Denis taught me to break down the Roles and Tasks in my business. It was an extremely slow process. It was especially painful because I didn’t understand the value: I didn’t have any money to pay others to fill these roles. But I sat at my coffee table and wrote all weekend anyway, because I knew that really was my last shot.
Two weeks later, he told me to write out my Mission and Vision for the business. Again, I struggled to see how this would solve my financial problems. But I wrote them down, and then started writing about my process on DontBuyAds.com. If you’ve followed that blog, read my books, or received my emails at any point over the last ten years, you know that these “easy” exercises are the foundation of everything I’ve built. They were my fulcrum for leveraging change, and then growth. The principles on which I’ve built Two-Brain Business (a multi-million-dollar worldwide corporation with trademarks and patents and extremely powerful leaders) are the same ones I had to learn to save Catalyst (my first gym, which is still very profitable without my presence.)
The discipline to go slow is the hardest of all.
As CrossFitters and fitness enthusiasts, we’re taught that intensity>everything else. But every professional athlete knows that’s not true: that the body adapts and down-shifts its output over time. Max effort workouts become “sorta hard” efforts. We self-regulate with overtraining, injury, and plateaus. But amateur athletes try to go hard every single day, because they’re drawn by the novelty of short-term results. Pros know better.
Entrepreneurs (and I’m the worst here) try to approach every idea with maximal intensity. We over-market, over-hype, over-hire and overspend. Eventually, our efforts to learn more; hire and train staff; build staff; and improve retention become “sorta good” work.
Writing roles and tasks, staff contracts, and mission statements aren’t sexy. Facebook ads are sexy. But if you haven’t built the foundation–if you haven’t done the slow work–your business will self-regulate. You’ll burn out; you’ll have high turnover; your staff will leave to open competing businesses; and you’ll hit a revenue ceiling.
The Discipline to do the slow work is the hardest of all. I couldn’t do it until I was desperate: my business was injured. I was thinking about quitting. Luckily, I found a coach when I was desperate enough to listen. Now, I hope, I’m smart enough to do the same on my bike. Because soon it will be time to go FAST, and I want to be ready.