Shut Up Legs: Two Business Lessons We Need To Learn From Sports

To make your business a success, you must possess two critical elements. First, a real passion for what you’re doing. Second, an unfailing understanding that in business sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. There will be lots of challenging weeks and dedication and persistence are what will get you through.

Cycling Is A Model For Passion And TenacityIMG_1691 winner small

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m blessed to be involved with a number of business ventures that I have a real excitement for, definitely including the USA Pro Challenge. I’m going to give credit where credit is due. It’s a lot easier to maintain that passion, and keep riding through headwinds and long steep climbs, when you’re surrounded at work, like I am, by a group of people who share a common intensity. Then there are the cycling fans. They’re a spirited people who follow races around the world. That creates a passionate sport with an ardent following. And we are fortunate that so many professional riders train here in Colorado in the off-season. These riders have a fire in their bellies and they want to challenge themselves. So the fact that our race is so hard is precisely why they want to cross the finish line.

Shut Up LegsUSA Pro Cycling Challenge - Stage 2

A staff member took an incredible shot of three very enthusiastic fans at the bike race last year. It’s on Rabbit Ears Pass, a really high mountain pass with an elevation of 9,426 feet. That stage of the race was basically a showdown between the race’s climbers. The fans were cheering on racers, waving signs that collectively read “Shut Up Legs.” That bit of inspiration comes from Jens Voigt. He’s a German professional road-racing cyclist who could be the poster boy for persistence. Now in his 40s, and still racing long after some of his peers have retired, he was quoted with that gem a few years ago during a particularly grueling race. “Shut up legs” says it all, and not just for cyclists. It can have meaning for those of us weekend warriors who spend our weekdays pushing through challenging business situations. In other words, when you’re climbing up a pass at that kind of elevation, when you’re out there pushing it all the time working twelve plus hours a day, it’s going to hurt. Yes, you have your downhills after your climbs, so there’s a little respite, but mostly there’s nothing but pain for your legs and they’re going to talk to you, or even yell at you, until you’re done. You just have to persist, tell your legs to shut up, and keep going.

We Didn’t Give Up And You Shouldn’t Eitherrider breaks away small

Obviously, business doesn’t need to be painful all the time, but there will be times. Getting the USA Pro Challenge off the ground, there were plenty of challenges. I won’t lie. We could have given up. I’m so glad we didn’t. Four years later and the race attracts the world’s best riders, it’s broadcast in more than 175 countries, the racers are cheered on by more than one million incredible on-site spectators, and the race just got picked up by NBC Sports Cable for five days of live prime time broadcast and two weekend days for the race’s finale. For sports coverage, that’s the ultimate.

The first time I rode in a peloton with 100 or so other cyclists, I was shocked by how much easier it was to ride. When you’re riding into a headwind and you’re in the middle of all those people around you who are all fired up and who are not going to give up, you don’t feel as much the impact of the wind pushing against your progress. Together you’re sharing the burden and persisting, creating a draft to help push all of you up a hill. Of course, there are only a handful of people who can ultimately break away from the pack and fight for the lead. And there can be only one who wins that race, all the while telling the legs to shut up.

I’d like to hear from you. What in life is your “shut up legs,” something that you need to push through to reach your business goals? Email me using the “Submit a Topic” feature to the right.