Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Down Hill

Seth Godin has another blog post that made me think.  Actually, I've meant to post on this topic for some time.  I think about it nearly every time on out for a walk. It may surprise you now when you look at my body shape, but when I was younger I ran competitively.  I didn't really like running, but I liked the challenge of getting better at something.  Along the way, two wise men taught me how to run hills, which is good, because I lived in Colorado at the time.

Early in my running career, my father told me never to quit on the uphill.  He said it's too easy to do that.  A lot of people do that because that's when it hurts the most.  But if you don't quit, you have the ability to pass the most competitors. 

My high school cross country coach also taught me about hill running.  He taught me to use short powerful steps going up hill, and long loose strides going down.  He also said that the last 10% of this hill was the point to really make a move.  Yes it hurt the most, but as the hill rounds to level, the extra work the runner puts in will turn to speed and the competition will loose heart.

My cross country team was excellent at running the hilly courses.  Not because it hurt less for us, but because we were more ready for the uphill stretches, and we used that to our psychological advantage.

Godin talks about bike riding on hills.  The work is done on the uphill.  Down hill is limited by gravity and safety concerns.  The only way to pass a competitor going down hill is to coast better than the other guy.  You can learn some tricks to do that, but ticks only help so much.  You can beet the pack going uphill by using strength, conditioning, strategy and psychology.

Another thing that I learned to do on the downhill run was to look ahead and prepare for the next hill.  Size it up.  Learn which points you can push and how much juice you need to hold in reserve for the top.  If you get caught up in how fast you're going down the hill, you will be surprised when you realize the slope changes.

I think this is all applicable to life and leadership.  We have slopes in our path. In order to get to a down hill period, you have to have an uphill.  You have to work. What are you hills in life right now?

Is it the economy? A lost job? Don't think about quitting.  Find creative ways that you can put more time into the things your best at.  Remember, Microsoft and Apple both began at a time when the economy was down.

I'd love to hear what your hills are right now.  Maybe you're on a down hill.  That's good to.  What are you doing to get ready for the next climb?