Sometimes personal wins provide insights for business, too. It happened to me recently when I did one of my regular park runs and sat down tired but proud at the beautiful lakeside. I realized that company leaders should embrace the famous Nike slogan, just as athletes do. Simple but powerful, it is actually a great prompt to drive the bold steps we need to speed up change for a just and healthy planet.
A year ago, I started doing park runs in the lovely Haagse Bos city forest, two blocks from my home. It was the first time ever that I added jogging to my activities. I had tried it before, ages ago, and concluded running just wasn’t for me. But lately, seduced by the beauty of the park and the ease of having a vast workout space available at my fingertips, I decided to dig up my old pair of sporting shoes and… just do it.
That famous Nike slogan recently acquired a new meaning for me, again.
Tears of anger and disappointment
Since I am not a born athlete and not 25 anymore, to put it mildly ;), progress had been slow. Inspired by a Sporting for Dummies-type app, I followed a run/walking plan that I was supposed to ramp up each week to convert myself into a marathon-fit runner in the blink of an eye.
Well, not so. I remember one morning I got so frustrated at my failure to add the extra minutes to my running routine, out of breath and my heart frenetically beating, that I had to slow down while tears of anger and disappointment filled my eyes.
But I continued running anyway. Even if I clearly wasn’t made for Olympic gold, I celebrated a year-round of park runs in July. Doing them two to three times a week had become a habit that made me feel good, and I looked forward to doing them again and again. I had finally started to love the sports activity I hated.
And there was another reason to pat myself on the back.
Breaking my personal record
I took this selfie sitting beside the little city forest lake with a proud smile. That morning I had changed my timer, doubling the number of minutes I had managed to run non-stop until then. There was no plan. No “Performance Goal”. No “Imagine Your Best Self” visualization. It was just an impulse on the spot and a thought: let’s try and see if it works. And off I went, running.
And I did it. Not just once, but three times in a row that morning, with the usual brief walking breaks in between. Suddenly, I had not just improved my personal record: I smashed it.
Looking out over the lake I have grown so fond of during my park runs, I felt super inspired. “Just Do it.” Simple, but true. Stop overthinking things. Just raise the bar higher than you think is within your reach and let yourself be surprised by what happens.
Fear of losing and failure
It is a prompt we should embrace in other areas of life and work as well, I thought while I was catching my breath. This is the mindset we need in business – especially if we are serious about people and planet positive action.
So often, fear of losing and failure stands in the way of the change we need. But the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems cannot be solved by doing business as usual. We must raise the bar and push forward, even if we are taking on unknown risks.
How do we know if our new solution works out?
What if customers don’t buy this…
Imagine our investors turning their back on us!
Won’t stakeholders lose trust in our brand?
Our competitors will walk away with our innovation!
Yep, these are all valid questions and doubts. But so what? Running around my lush little forest, I often marvel at the quiet stillness of the trees, the patient ripples of the lake. The endless cycle of birth, perishing, and renaissance as the seasons change fills me with awe. At the same time, I realize that none of this is as eternal as it seems.
The world can’t wait. Let’s break through our fears and make change happen. Just Do It.