Bodybuilding is a sport popularized into mainstream culture by the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. From his humble beginnings, to a world-renowned athlete, actor, businessman and US politician, the progression of his career is nothing short of a marvel. He himself has declared countless times that the sport bestowed on him some of the skills that were the foundations in building his career. This is true to many Professional bodybuilders and bodybuilding enthusiasts who have gained from this sport. Bodybuilding focuses on growth of muscularity and strength by gradually increasing controlled resistance through training. The aim is to achieve sustainable muscular growth with good symmetry, definition and proportion.
How can entrepreneurship relate to bodybuilding? An entrepreneur uses similar strategies; gradually adding controlled challenges so that his or her company grows in a sustainable way. Implementing these strategies require a strong mind and physique, able to withstand the challenges of growth. Often entrepreneurs derive this strength from their daily lifestyle and activities. Below are my top five strategies learnt from the sport of bodybuilding that I use daily in planning for personal and business growth:
1. Shut up and lift!
No one built a Spartan physique by hitting the couch. Planned gains require hitting the gym regularly and the discipline of a warrior when it comes to diet and training. As an entrepreneur, we have to walk the talk, and do more walking than talking to achieve success. It is common sense, yet gathering the self-motivation to push your own growth is something that needs training and iron will.
2. Mixing it up
The human body gets good at countering any regular resistance applied to it. So as we train, our muscles get more and more efficient while maintaining their current size. This is no good for the bodybuilder who is looking for growth. As a training plateau is reaching, mixing up the training schedules and exercises confuse the muscles and prompt them to keep growing. As a company navigates through growth, occasional change and chaos is your friend since it keeps the team on their toes and pushes them beyond their comfort zone.
3. No Rest no Gain!
Hitting the gym with the aggression of a Spartan is great, but the smart bodybuilder understands the body’s thresholds as he matures in his training. Over-training is very common and opens the doors to injury and prolonged fatigue. Growth requires hard and smart training and resting too. Proper rest gives the body time to recover from the resistance it goes through and gear up for the next level of training. When business is growing, it is common for the over-enthusiastic entrepreneur to push beyond the limits and roam in the region between optimum performance and breakdown. Give yourself and the team time to recover from an enduring growth spree to gather strength and motivation to push for the next level. We need to remind ourselves that the growth we seek must be sustainable.
4. No, we are NOT skipping Leg Day!
For every bodybuilder, the quads are the toughest and the most painful to train. Athletes with good lower body development maintain long term growth since it gives a solid foundation to the core muscles. This helps to support tougher training and builds a balanced physique. Dedicated athletes make it a point not to miss “Leg day”. An entrepreneur looking to maintain the company’s growth for the long run cannot avoid the tough but important fundamentals. For a tech savvy CEO, it may be the financials or human resources. For finance savvy CEOs, it may be keeping up with the technology. Giving regular attention to building up the skills that do not come naturally gives the growth strategies a balanced perspective and spurs better decisions from the top.
5. Rome wasn't built in a day
The chiselled physiques of pro athletes were not built overnight. Often when exercising to reach a certain physical goal, the athletes have to cross many mental and physical peaks, plateaus and valleys. Those who are resilient, determined and patient are the ones who triumph eventually. In the current pace of markets and technology changes, it is easy to feel frustrated about your own organisational growth when you hit obstacles. But if you have done your homework and are doing what is necessary with dedication, only time and patience is needed to push across the canyons and eventually climb to the highest peak.