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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lessons Learned at 14,000 Feet: Part 1

When your body is dehydrated, exhausted and oxygen deprived somehow things become clearer, or perhaps they go so far around the distortion circle they seem to become clearer again. Maybe I'm still a little delusional because that makes no sense.

My point is this, as I was walking up Mount Shavano I crossed the tree line which was about 12,000 feet in elevation at 9:00am, I was totally exhausted. I hadn't had anything to eat since my bowl of apple cinnamon oatmeal at 6:00am and realized that I should probably feed myself something for some energy as I was burning calories fast.

My pulse rate was around 160bpm as I sat resting on a rock and sipped some water while I ate dehydrated fruit from my zip lock baggie. After a few minutes my pulse rate dropped enough that I felt pretty good again and started walking. As the sugar from the fruit kicked in, I felt a sudden burst of energy and started walking faster and faster. After 20 minutes of a quick pace, climbing higher and higher I spotted a rock about 300 yards ahead on the trail and told my brother in law that it looks like a good place for a rest. As I approached our resting place, I suddenly felt a little queasy and instantly recognized that I was going to puke.

From all my years of running, I knew what it felt like to run until you puke, so this was not a new feeling for me. However, it was new from the standpoint of all I did to get to this point was to simply walk. A few quick breathing techniques to prolong the inevitable until I could get my pack off and get situated and then BLAAACHHHHGH!!! From that point on I felt great and never got sick again.

Not only is that a nice story, but it has a purpose too. Kind of an Aesop's fable sort of meaning behind it. Just as I was aware enough to recognize that I was going to get sick, you have to be aware enough to recognize when things in your business aren't going as well as they should be. Sometimes your body just needs to clear out what's inside and start fresh. A business can get sick and sometimes all that is left to do is launch out what is making it sick.

This sickness could be from lots of different things: bad employees, bad financial management, bad contractors to name a few. What makes you sick isn't the most important thing at first. The most important thing at first is to realize that you're going to puke.

The lesson from 14,000 feet is this. If you feel like you're going to puke, you probably will.
If you feel like something isn't going right in your business, it probably isn't.

If you know you're going to puke, take the time to assess the situation, find the most appropriate place for this to happen and brace yourself, but dont' fight it.
If you know your business is sick, take some time to figure out why, determine the best way to remove the sickness and let it go.
Businesses owners have a tendency to hold on to what makes them sick. For all the risk they endure, they don't want to let go and risk change, but sometimes launching a bowl of oatmeal is what is required to make things better.

On a side note, I still like oatmeal, just not so sure how much I'll be eating apple Cinnamon in the near future.