Last month, I completed my first Ironman Triathlon in Boulder, Colorado; this was a huge personal accomplishment in itself, but I missed my target by about an hour. Sure, I was happy to have completed, but still not satisfied with the result! The feeling was similar to implementing a new strategy within your organization, only to fall short of achieving the objectives you had set. Upon missing my goal, I spent some time over the next few weeks reflecting on the amazing journey I had taken and wondering what I could have done different. It didn’t take too long for me to recognize the issue. Yes, I had understood the dedication, and lifestyle changes that were necessary to complete an Ironman, but I did not have the expertise to take me to the next level. Like so many things in business and life, bringing in a coach or expert would have helped early in the planning stages and ultimately improved the results.
Being a consultant,from day one of my Ironman journey, I naturally developed a strategy for myself. I knew that I needed a plan with checkpoints established along the way to ensure I would finish without doing harm both physically and mentally. In developing a plan, I recognized the similarities in many of the clients Cask has supported throughout the years and the fundamental requirements:
- I was committed
- I had a goal and strategy
- I consulted stakeholders (family, friends, co-workers….)
- I reviewed best practices (books, training videos, blogs….)
- I established a plan with checkpoints
- I had all the right tools (equipment, clothes, nutrition….)
- I executed the plan
I did spend a great deal of time in the steps above, but the critical piece I was missing was having an expert to collaboratively create a plan for success, and guide me through the execution. Because of time commitments to work, family and the actual training required for an Ironman, execution was a more difficult task than I had predicted. If I had a coach strategically guiding me from the beginning, I could have spent my valuable time focused on executing the plan and I ultimately would have achieved better results. The same goes in business. Bringing in a consultant early enables you to increase the speed with which you get results and achieve efficiencies, allowing you to focus on the many other aspects of your project, organization, and even your personal life. A consultant provides a fresh perspective, best practices, and enables you to focus on the goals you have established together with focus, clarity, energy and confidence. This short-term adjunct to your team, given your trust and support, delivers the ability to recognize pitfalls and opportunities with a view towards critical success factors and changing mindsets – to be open and receptive to new ideas and approaches. Regardless of your strategy or goals, time spent with an expert can deliver much better results than relying on just yourself or internal team. Engage early and agree upon the expectations and you’ll see better results. I’ll let you know how the next Ironman goes in 2015 by following this path.