There’s a perception that triathletes, aside from being crazy, are loners, isolated away from others while competing in three different disciplines. While there is a strong individualist component to the sport, the truth is that no one ever succeeds alone. This is especially true of the single-player sports. These athletes could not accomplish what they set out to do without a supportive team of trainers, coaches, family, and fellow athletes.
As with startups, everything begins with an idea, a commitment, and a plan. Whether training for an Ironman or creating a new business, you must first have a strategy and be relentless about sticking to it. The training portion for an Ironman is literally the hardest part of this kind of event. Endurance is a critical component of this plan, especially when architecting strong teams as you build an organization.
The early startup mentality of zero work-life balance is a thing of the past. Like training for a triathlon, taking breaks and conserving energy is important for mental and physical health. It’s quite possible that overtraining can do more harm than good. Just as training with someone else is far more productive for an athlete, the same can be said for a technical team working to deliver value to their customers.
The plan needs to build as you get stronger. While consistency is a must, flexibility is another important factor in the process. Expecting the unexpected is important, as life happens: illness, injuries, or weather conditions could all be factors in training for an Ironman or impact a new venture’s launch. Whatever bumps may present in the path towards the goal, auxiliary options may need to be activated. Teams must work together, facilitating ideas in a supportive environment, and learn how to address adversity as it arises — because it will.
When training for an Ironman, you must train for three different sports and prepare for a multitude of conditions and possibilities. This is similar to founding a tech startup, where its founders, and early team members, must wear a lot of different hats, and perform under a variety of conditions. Both require perseverance through tough times to reach your final goal.
Create a mantra.
During each Ironman event, I hit a point where I start to feel not-so-great and question whether I will be able to continue. This moment of doubt can feel insurmountable and usually hits me when I have 40-50 miles left in the cycling leg, and is followed up by a full marathon (I mentioned triathletes are crazy, right?). My mantra isn’t super creative, but “it will get better” has consistently helped me get through the muck. As with building a company, the number of possible challenges can seem endless and there are plenty of times where the thought “we won’t make it” arises. You can either make that a self-fulfilling prophecy, or you can put it behind you and focus on achieving your next milestone.
Managing a team’s mindset through powerful phases of growth requires building a sustainable culture of inclusion to build products, build processes, and build people. As a technical organization engaged in the security space, Trava has an understanding of the needs of the individuals on our team and aligns them with a sense of purpose for the long haul. I feel this is important for success. It’s also important to honor those with whom you work, acknowledging everyone’s individual contributions. Teamwork should be treated in the literal sense, whether preparing for a product launch or training for an athletic event, surround yourself with good people who are as committed — or as crazy — as you are.
Rob Beeler is a former triathlete (including 2 Ironmans) and a drummer. He is CTO and co-founder of Trava Security and currently training with his son for a marathon.