What Powerlifting Can Teach You About Your Business

This was my first meet and my deadlift opener. 

This was my first meet and my deadlift opener. 

“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.”

- Ronnie Coleman

That is one of my all time favorite sayings. Except, in my case substitute “bodybuilding” for “powerlifting”. The message still stands though - you can’t do either unless you commit to moving some “heavy-ass weights”.

I love this adage because it applies to business development and business strategy as well. And, it does it on a few levels. Let’s break four of them down.

1. Like any exercise regime (powerlifting included), building good strategy takes an investment of patience and dedication before you start to notice the results. In most cases, strategy is not something you decide on today and see the outcomes, benefits or data tomorrow. It takes time. Time for information and processes to disseminate through your organization and to take hold. When you’re building strength and strategy you have to put the time into actually doing the work to get to some kind of outcome. Not just thinking about/planning for all your future success. You can’t get your body or your business stronger if you aren’t putting in the work.

2. Realistic goals are important. When you’re powerlifting your body and gravity are absolutely brutal judges. When you’re setting goals around how much weight you’re going to move you have to do so within some (albeit temporary) constraints. Where am I today and realistically how much can I expect to improve before my next competition or meet? Works for business strategy too!

For the most part, as an entrepreneur you aren’t going to just wake up one day and decide that being a seven-figure business is attainable in the next 6 weeks. Especially, if you’re looking at your financials and you’re only a three-figure business today with no real growth opportunities jumping out at you. I’m not saying it’s impossible or never going to happen but in the short term it is probabilistically unlikely. So, get pragmatic. What are your current business constraints? How can you start to move the needle today to build some winning momentum that will eventually carry you towards being the World's Strongest Business.

3. Use the feedback you’re getting from your body and your business in real time. When I’m training my body it is constantly giving me real time feedback about what I’m doing. Tight shoulders? Put the weight down and stretch. Too heavy? Have someone help me get the weight off my chest and take it down a pound or two. Your business (any business) is often doing the same thing. Every decision you make in your business will provide you with feedback. It’s up to you to figure out what that feedback is telling you and make adjustments so that your next actions support the goals you set for yourself. The worst thing you can do while you’re training your body and running your business is ignore the feedback. It will eventually lead to some kind of breakdown or negative outcome that will cost you time, money and energy to come back from - if you can come back from it at all.

4. What you feed your body and your business matters. Talking about diets and business strategy is not a stretch I promise - just stay with me. It’s no secret that when you feed your body good things, like healthy food and appropriate sleep, you are setting the stage to get the best possible performance out of your body. The same goes for your business. When you are thinking about business strategy we swap out food for inputs. Inputs like time, money, workflow, sales prospects/opportunities, etc. These are examples of the things your business needs to perform optimally. It doesn’t matter how good your strategy is, if you aren’t feeding your business appropriately you won’t be able to get the most out of it. There is also a resource management function piece to this. It’s about equipping yourself, and your teams, as best you can so that they can have the opportunity to do the best work and deliver as much value as possible.

There has to be a balance of inputs. Just like in your body, there’s only so much protein your body can absorb in any one sitting. Eventually, the marginal benefit from eating one more ounce of chicken goes to zero. In your business keeping tabs on the marginal benefits of the inputs you’re providing it is just as important - you don’t want to waste any of the already scarce resources your investing if you can help it.

I have to cap this at four points because I think I can literally keep making this analogy for another 1500 words. Hopefully you’re seeing a pattern here. That pattern is that running your business or building good strategy isn’t all that different from taking care of your body. If you take the time to think about how you are measuring your physical health you can translate that into how to better take care of your business’ health. You don’t even need an MBA for that!

It boils down to a little bit of discipline, an eye for identifying what’s important and the commitment to follow through. Too many people and their businesses go the way of fad (crash) diets. The try really hard for a little while, see some results and then get lazy. What happens? They yo-yo back to unhealthy and look for the next secret to get them the quick results they think they need. Don’t be that person! If you are committing to healthier lifestyle, commit your business’ strategy and success in the same way.

Making better business decisions takes practice and discipline. If you need some help I have a free resource for you. It’s the Disruptive Decision Framework. Think of it as the workout plan for the decisions you have to make in your business. It will help keep you accountable and it’s free!