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  • Travis Jacob

Fitness and Organizational Culture: Part 1- Keep Your Eye on the Goal

One of the best aspects of the Lake Nona community in Central Florida is the design and focus on personal health and fitness together with a strong and healthy business and medical community. When it comes to performance and success these factors go hand in hand. Personal performance is not only beneficial to your personal health, but it is beneficial to the health of your business or organization as well. Being a triathlete, I spend many hours each week biking and running around the Lake Nona community. It’s always great to see like-minded fitness people out doing the same thing, especially during the times I am usually out there between 4:30am and 7:00am. Yes, I know, only the “crazy” people are out riding or running at 4:30am, but I’m okay with that!

I started doing triathlons in 1999 as a way to do something fun to keep in shape. It started with the sprint distance (.25 mile swim/10 mile bike/3.1 mile run). I found that I really enjoyed the training and racing and over the next couple of years I progressed up to the iron distance races (2.4 mile swim/112 mile bike/26.2 mile run). Since 2006 I have completed seven iron distance races. Training for races like this require 20-25 hours a week of training for five to six months leading up to the race. Hence, the 4:30am start times. Over the years I began to realize that the lessons I was learning from all the training, preparation, and racing directly related to how I was working in the business world. This article is the first in a four part series on just four of the principles I have learned and teach related to building and maintaining a winning culture in organizations.

Principle #1: Keep Your Eye on the Goal.

I completed my first iron distance triathlon in 2006 in Clermont. This race (The Great Floridian Triathlon) is not only one of the longest running iron distance races in the country, but it is also one of the toughest due to the bike course which has roughly 6,000 feet of climbing. That year the run course included a seven mile circle around Lake Minneola three times. It was late in the afternoon when I started the run. During the second two loops around the lake I was running in the dark. At that point my body was telling me to quit. It’s at this point in a race like this that mental toughness has to take over. When your body says “no,” your mind has to say “yes” If you want any chance of finishing. That night, as I was running all alone, in the dark, and in a great deal of pain, one thing consumed my mind. I just kept telling myself, “Keep your eye on the goal.” The finish line at the lakefront was lit up and I could see it from any point around the lake. I just kept looking over to the finish line. I was not going to let anything stop me from reaching my goal that night. Not the pain in my stomach, not the pain in my back, and not the pain in my legs. Reduced to a fast walk with brief times of a slow, painful jog, I crossed the finish line at almost 11:30pm.

Building and maintaining a winning organizational culture requires setting goals that are relevant to the organization and can be achieved in a timely manner. Employees at every level like to see progress, especially when it comes to culture because that directly relates to them. Keeping your eye on the “culture goals” and doing everything you have to do to meet those goals will send a positive message to every employee. That message is that you care about them and they have value to the organization. Goals must also be clearly stated and communicated to every department and individual. When the leaders of the organization keep their eyes on the goal and stop at nothing to achieve them, a whole new level of trust is established. That trust brings with it excitement, which in turn brings a greater sense of commitment and ownership at all levels. Keeping your eye on culture goals is a great start, but it is only the beginning. Stay tuned next month for part two of this Fitness and Organizational Culture series.

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