Getting your second wind

There’s a concept athletes are familiar with called the “second wind”.

You may be familiar with this through experience, or have heard some athletic friends discuss it.

Mostly, it’s a feeling.

But, a powerful one.

What is the “second wind”?

If you’re swimming a long-distance event – like the mile, which is 1,650 yards and 66 laps – you will start the event feeling fresh and rested. Then, as the event wears on, you will get progressively tired. This makes sense.

When you get tired, you have two options:

  1. Let the tired feeling consume you and win.
  2. Push through and overcome that feeling.

If you’re able to push hard enough when you begin to get tired, you can unlock your second wind. It only happens after you overcome being tired.

If you can overcome, you will feel better than when you started the race. It’s like a weight being lifted. Like you’re dropping shackles. It’s as if you could go at top speed forever.

The reality is, with this feeling you can continue at top performance for a period. This period allows you to effectively get in the zone. You want to use the second wind to your advantage.

In the mile, you hope this happens around the 500-yard mark. That gives you plenty of time to be in the zone and meet your goal.

The second wind isn’t exclusively available to athletes. It’s an idea. Anyone can get them and use them to their advantage.

You can get a second wind during a single day. A week, month, year, or sometime over your career.

The goal is to recognize it and lean into it.

Once you can recognize them, you want to be able to manufacture them. Time them such you can regularly leverage them.

Let it be your hidden overdrive button used for a burst of productivity or creativity.

Just like getting in the zone while swimming the mile.

When you’re tired, it may mean it’s time to stop or move on.

It could also be right before your second win.


P.S. This is not an endorsement for hustle porn. A second wind can only happen when you’re well trained and well rested.

Look for a back door

Look for a back door

The warehouse building was open to the street. It had a lobby, but that’s where the receptionist sits.

That is an immediate rejection.

My chance is driving around back. Where the shipping trucks pull up to the building and load, or unload, the shipments from places unknown. The back, which is where I sell my services, is relatively unsecured. I could probably rob the place.

I won’t. I’m just trying to make a living.

What occurs next is me walking through the back door of the warehouse. I think I look like I know where I’m going.

You shouldn’t tell my manager because the account might throw me out.

But, this tends to be the fastest way to speak to my preferred call point. The maintenance manager.

Yes, there is a way I am supposed to do things. Call the front desk, ask for an appointment, and get rejected. The process, which does not work in my favor, needs to be circumvented.

Thus, I walk in the back door. Like I know where I am going. Like I’m on a mission. When you act like you belong, the likelihood of being thrown out goes down. I understand people hate being dropped in on. But, if I wait for a call back, I will never make quota. I’d get fired.

So, I trained myself to look for the back door. The path with the least resistance. It’s not glamorous, and it is likely to upset prospects. Though at times, it is very effective.

There’s a process and a way of doing things. Unfortunately, the way of doing things may not get us what we want. A sale, a promotion, or a new client.

Thus, we have to look for a back door.

Look for a back door

The idea of looking for the back door is not my own. It actually came from a James Altucher Podcast. One where the interviewee worked at HBO in the HR department. Then, began managing comedians.

Working in the HR department as an assistant filing papers was the interviewees back door. She wanted to work in comedy. She knew HBO was the right place. Rather than enter through the front door, which was the comedy department, or whatever department comedians are in, she entered in HR.

Interesting choice. I thought about it, and at times, I had done something similar. I think we all have.

The best path forward might not be straight ahead. It could be circling the building, and arriving in the back. We have to look for a back door.

When I finally found the maintenance manager, he asked me to leave. Not politely. I guess when I went looking for the back door I didn’t end up managing a comedian. Or making a sale.

I hope you find a back door that has stairs leading to the executive suite, pot of gold, or a lifestyle that makes you proud.

Don’t worry, I’m still looking too.

The highs and lows of business

When things are good, they’re great.

When things are bad, they seem insurmountable.

Projects, careers, jobs, days, and years’ all experience highs and lows.

Moving to the next project at a high can seem like we had a success.

Ending a project when we’re at a low can seem like it was a failure.

Both situations may not be accurate. The result might be due to good, or poor, timing. The length of time in a project can determine success.

How long can you manage the highs and lows of your business?

The highs

The highs are fun. We’re killing it!

As we watch The Wolf of Wall Street, view Enron’s trajectory, or American Real Estate in the mid-2000s, the high is great. Everyone is making money. We’re living like rock stars.

If not managed, a crash follows. As with all three of these situations, you think nothing bad can happen. Then, the bad happens.

We glorify the highs with excess. Not management and preparation for sustainable growth. Sustainability for when the things begin to turn.

This is when we hit the lows.

The lows

Rising up from nothing is the American Dream. As an American, I love the story of the person who rose up when all odds were against them.

What happens is managing a low situation. This can also happen in our sales, marketing, and business.

A time where nothing works. The key is managing this period until the next high. Where we begin killing it again.

The lows happen to all of us. What I find difficult, is when your lows are coming at the time of another person’s highs.

For example, missing quota while colleagues are crushing it. Attending the sales meeting is not easy. Next quarter, though, the tables might be turned. It is merely a low before the next high.

At this point, maintaining the courage and motivation to continue is the only option. Moving forward when nothing seems to work.

The highs and lows of business

Managing the highs means we continue looking for new opportunities. Maintain the process that got us to the high. Hopefully, mitigating the damage of the lows.

When we hit the low, managing and continuing to the next high is the only path forward. If the past can provide any indicator to the future, we know there is a high on the horizon.

The question is: how do we get there?

Taking a Pause to Regroup

In football, teams can come out of the second half and begin their comeback.

They had 15 minutes to pause, reflect, and regroup.

The same can be applied to projects and our careers.

I have taken two major pauses recently. A pause in learning German and a pause in my blogging.

One was a poor decision, the other might turn out to be good. That is yet to be seen.

A pause can take two forms. It can provide the necessary time to regroup and reflect. Then, go out and crush the second half.

Or, it can kill momentum.

The trick is knowing when it is time to take a pause and when it is time to push forward. Enduring the difficult road ahead.

Taking a pause that loses momentum

A pause that loses momentum is a start-stop problem. In sports, a long pause in training can leave you out of shape.

A long pause in sales, such as a longer than normal vacation, can leave you the amount of time you were gone behind. It could also be more than that. It’s a gap in filling the sales funnel.

Or, when learning a language, it’s use it or lose it. A long pause causes us to forget words. A need for remedial work.

Taking a pause to regroup

A pause to regroup, on the other hand, can bring life back to achieving goals.

A productive pause, such as a sabbatical, can create much-needed rest. An ability to clear our mind. Renewing our sense of purpose.

This pause is like the football team that comes back from a 25-point deficit in the second half. Ultimately winning the game.

Coming back after a pause

The most difficult part of any pause is coming back after the break. Starting again.

In many projects, starting the first time is difficult. Not to mention having to do it twice.

When considering a pause, it might be, like anything, worth asking why. A pause for the right reasons can move us forward.

On the other hand, a pause because things are difficult can do more harm than good.

Not all pauses are created equal. We should not take the decision to take a pause lightly.

Self Managed

If you’re looking for someone to tell you what to do next, you might be disappointed when there’s no answer.

We are not trained to have the answer for what to do next. We are not trained to be self managed.

Early in school, we are told to seek guidance and wait for instruction. Those who are self managed get punished.

The same goes in a traditional work place. The traditional environment does not want you to be self managed. You might get a lose canon. You might get someone working on the wrong things.

In defense of this system, you do not want an entire team to be self managed. At least not all the time.

Why?

Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

Moving together in the same direction is difficult. It takes a strong leader. It takes followers.

But, if you clearly define a strategy and everybody is on board, the right team can be self managed.

The struggle, though, is defining the strategy and having your team on board.

Difficult up front, but the better long term strategy.

It is important to decide whether you want a team of self managed individuals or followers.

If you hire one and expect another, everyone will be disappointed.

Good luck and good selling!