Business lessons from a field sprint

It was exciting when two parts of my life came together. This year The Worthwhile Company is helping sponsor the Piedmont Orthopaedic Association Cycling Team — POA Cycling for short. The team has gotten off to a solid start and I’m glad to be both sponsor and racer.

2010 POA Cycling Team

For me it has been a learning situation and I have been amazed at how often lessons learned on the bike translate to real life — especially a competitive business environment. One such instance stood out to me in a recent race. It exposed for me a weakness on the bike that I also realized is something I need to overcome in my business life.

Cycling is a team sport. However, only one team member crosses the line as the winner. During a race each team member must make multiple decisions. Often, he must do so without collaboration with his mates. Those individual decisions affect the entire team.

This demands a level of trust and commitment. It allows the leader of the team for that day to focus on the one task – winning. He knows that his teammates are working to make sure he is kept in the best position. He knows they will be willing to turn themselves inside out in order to bring back a threat. There is an incredible bond in a team with the right chemistry.

Then the time comes for the rider for whom the team worked so hard to make his move. During a recent race, that was the position I found myself in with a kilometer to go. My team had me set up perfectly. I moved up with 500 meters to go and was in the fourth position. I was confident that I could take the win — there was really only one threat and he was somewhere behind me.

At 200 meters I made a mistake. I took my mind off of the goal in front of me and started thinking about the threat behind me. I knew he was strong and I reasoned that if I went too early, he would be able to ride in my draft to the final meters and then swing around me with the momentum to win.

I settled in on the front waiting. My thought was that as he came up to me, I would counter and we would race to the finish with the fastest man winning. Unfortunately, that is not what happened.

The known threat never appeared. He had gotten boxed in during the shuffle of the field sprint. What happened was two riders on the same team split me on the right and left. They came from several riders deep so by the time they got to me their speed put me in a deficit. I could not accelerate quickly enough to counter. They finished side-by-side with me in third place right behind them.

My team had put me in the perfect position to win. It was time for me to deliver. However, instead of focusing on the goal, I got side tracked trying to analyze the competition.

In a field sprint with 200 meters to go, it is not time to think. It is time to act! When you see the finish line, you don’t hesitate. You DO. When you make that move, you GO! You go with 150%. You leave nothing in the tank.

At Worthwhile, we have a great team. It is a team built on trust and competency. The decisions made each day by the individual team members set the team up to win. However, there are those times when the goal is in sight and it is time to DO. Then you GO with 150%. Pausing to over analyze leaves you playing catchup.

Jonathan finishing in 3rd place.

When the goal is in sight. Don't hesitate!

Put trust in your team. Put trust in your own training. Put threats out of your mind. Put the focus on the goal. Put the pedal down and give 150%. It works in cycling and it works in life. It will make both you and your team winners.

This article appears originally on The Worthwhile Company Blog. The Worthwhile Company is a leading Web design and application development company based in Greenville, South Carolina. Its team’s finish line is the goal of increasing your company’s or organization’s internet worth.