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  • Travis Jacob

Fitness and Organizational Culture Part 2: When the Going Gets Tough, Keep Going

One of the best aspects of many newer communities is the design and focus on personal health and fitness together with a strong and healthy business 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. This article is the second in a four part series on just four of the principles I have learned and teach from iron distance racing related to building and maintaining a winning culture in organizations.

Principle #2: When the Going Gets Tough, Keep Going.

In 2010 I completed the Silverman iron distance triathlon in Henderson, NV, just outside of Las Vegas. What made this race unique and also very difficult was the bike course. The 112 mile course was in the Mojavi Desert. The Mojavi Desert has hills with long climbs. All total there was 10,000ft of climbing. Very. Long. Climbing! I trained on hills so I was ready, but I’m still not a great climber. Consistent and steady, just not fast. With the amount of climbing, this was the toughest bike course I had ever raced on. Each stage of an iron distance triathlon has a time cut-off. If you don’t make it by the cut-off, you are pulled from the race and your day is over. I had never had an issue finishing a bike course, until this day. At the halfway point, the climbing had already taken a huge toll on my legs. I stopped for 10 minutes to rest at the checkpoint where I grabbed my special needs bag and quickly consumed a cold Mountain Dew and king sized Snickers bar (Don’t judge, it worked for me!) before continuing on for the second 56 miles...of long hills. That second half was tough. At mile 100, with only 12 miles to go as I was checking my time and current speed, which was against the wind and slightly uphill, it didn’t seem possible that I would make the cut-off time and would be getting pulled from the race. The going was tough, very tough, and in that time I had to just keep telling myself to keep going no matter what. I kept going, peddling as hard as I could, checking my watch and the distance I had left. Then, at just the right time, a right turn took me downhill into town. I finished the bike course with only 10 minutes to spare, but I had finished, and now “only” had a marathon to go. Yes, I finished the race!

Building and maintaining a winning organizational culture can be very tough at times. Dealing with issues that come along with the business can be hard enough, but add in the “people” factor, and the road can get really tough. I worked on a project at a company where I was put in charge of building a winning culture. We were trying to build trust in what was a very toxic environment. We were trying our best to make sure everyone was treated fairly relating to pay range for each position. A market study had been completed and we had communicated frequently and clearly to everyone about the process every step of the way. When we were ready to share the results, I met with each employee individually with their director. Everyone was receptive and thankful for the work we did, accept for one person. That person sat in my office and called me a liar and said I was not being fair and was not following through on what I told everyone we were going to do. Even though I knew what he was saying was not true, it was still a tough one for me because I had been trying so hard to build trust, which would provide the foundation for improving the culture. The going was tough at that moment, but I kept going. I had a great team and we all kept going. This individual tried to gain support from his co-workers, but because we stayed the course and kept going, no one would listen because they knew we were being fair to everyone.

Not a step by step process to this one. No magic formulas. You can have a great plan that focuses on building a great culture for your organization, communicate the plan, see results from the plan, and yet still go through tough times while working the plan. Don’t get discouraged and remember part one of this series, “keep your eye on the goal” and when the going gets tough, just keep going. If you do, you will be surprised at the support you will get coming from the people around you. Stay tuned next month for part three of this Fitness and Organizational Culture series.

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