Tuesday 30 May 2023
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Whatever You Say, Coach

[Beth Bridges, a regular contributor to intrepidNOW, writes about how to break through personal barriers with regards to both individual and business goals…]

Beth Bridges

Beth Bridges

“Why are we doing this?”

“Uhhh… because Coach said to do it?”

It was a very Zen moment. We were about to start the Tuesday night running workout and I was curious about the purpose of the workout. Strenth? Speed? Endurance? My running buddy – the one who always got the marching orders to pass along – had no idea why we were doing what we were doing.

For a moment, the purpose-driven, reason-for-everything business person inside me was annoyed. Then I realized … I didn’t have to do the hard work. All I had to do was the work. Huh?

Back in December, I joined a very small group of master’s and senior runners who were seriously training for specific running goals. I went from running several days a week with some general goals for a workout (long run, intervals, maybe some fartleks) to having a very specific purpose for each and every time I laced up the running shoes.

I’ve been enjoying the hell out of not making any decisions except one: do what Coach tells me to do.

It’s freeing. As hard-driving business people and leaders, we get used to making sure that we have clarity about our process. We know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what we’re going to do next.

I’ve deliberately chosen to not get a copy of the four weeks of workouts that Coach has been writing for everyone else. While the other runners have lost sleep over anticipating the next hard speed workout, I’ve shown up on Saturday mornings blissfully ignorant of what is about to happen.

All I know is that it’s going to be hard and that I’m going to do everything but (permanently) hurt myself to get it done.

After six months, I’m starting to see some serious results. Coach is starting to tell me I could beat some of the local bad ass runner girls at the shorter distances. I want that. So I’ve chosen to believe Coach.

He’ll say “I know you don’t believe this, but I think you can beat them.”

And I’ll tell him, “If you believe it, I believe it. And I’m going to work like someone who can beat them.”

It’s giving me a tiny glimpse of what it must be like to be a world-class competitor.

And it makes me want to find ways to do this in my business life.

Sorry, but this is an article that maybe asks more questions than it answers. But I think the questions I’m asking myself about applying my athletic training strategies to my business and personal development are the kind of questions we all can ask And there’s growth in just considering them and looking for ways to apply them.

How can I have that empty mind, that “surprise me, I’m ready for anything” attitude during the work day?

There’s a lot of calmness that comes with deciding to not worry about what’s coming and to just be ready to “do.” It makes me think this must be what David Allen, creator of Getting Things Done, must be talking about when he wrote “Ready for Anything.”

Who do I have in my business and personal life who is an expert in their area like my running coach is in his area?

It’s a lesson in very specific niche knowledge My coach was not only a terrific runner, he was a nationally competitive masters and senior runner. And he’s coached a senior runner to multiple regional wins. If I were going to look for a “life coach” I would want to find someone who specializes in working with women in their 40’s who are working full time and building a business of their own. I wouldn’t want to be trained by someone who’s only worked with high-school students and I wouldn’t benefit enough from a generic personal development coach either.

How can I apply my fierce but friendly competitive racing attitude to work?

I want to win and beat all the other women (and men and 20-year-olds, because frankly who cares who it is!) and yet one of the women closest to me is a business friend. Another one has gone out of her way for the last two years to encourage me, always seeking me out before the start and going so far as to wait at the finish line with a kind word and a bottle of water! I absolutely appreciate and respect them while still working hard to beat them.

I want to take that same fierce determination to win and beat our competitors and still be incredibly gracious in both winning and defeat. I’ll wish them well and that they don’t make mistakes… so I can beat them fair and square.

There’s so much to this athletic process that is making me a better, stronger person in life and business. While I know there are friends and co-workers who are mystified by the amount of time and energy I’ve put into my running, I know that it’s doing incredible things for me in the rest of my life.


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Beth Bridges
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Beth Bridges is the Networking Motivator (tm) and author of "Networking on Purpose: A Five-Part Success Plan to Build a Powerful and Profitable Business Network." She attended over 2,500 networking events in 10 years which lead to the development of the Five Part Networking Success Plan (tm). Beth is an avid runner and cyclist and recently ditched a twenty-year-long fear of water so she could become a triathlete.

2 thoughts on “Whatever You Say, Coach

  1. Jennifer Shepherd

    Beth, this is so true! When I have had a personal trainer for my fitness goals – I love showing up and just following! That willingness to just do what you are told makes a huge difference. I think in business we so often say, “that sounds great, I’ll just change this, and no, I don’t really want to do that…” but there is a power in surrendering once in a while, letting someone else call the shots. The short term pain is often necessary for the long term transformation. Thanks so much for sharing this idea!

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