Today, I turn 45.  To be honest, I’m not in the least bit thrilled about that number.  Sure I don’t feel like I’m 45.  Clearly my sense of humor wouldn’t match that of a 45 year old.  But I’m 45 and that’s a reality, so I just have to deal with it.

I do this crazy thing every 5 years where I get my body in the best shape it has ever been in.  This anniversary is no different with the exception that I decided to do what many advised against. I did the unthinkable for a person my age and joined CrossFit®.  CrossFit for those who don’t know is an intense cardio weight workout.  Those incrossfit it espouse its benefits as if they were members of a cult. Those outside of it fear it is a masochistic workout that can do more harm than good.

After 4 months, I have to admit I’ve become part of the cult.  I’ve remained unscathed despite the naysayers. And I’m getting more than a fit body. CrossFit has made me a sharper entrepreneur and the lessons that I’ve learned are many of the same lessons any entrepreneur can learn about building and growing a successful venture.

  1. It all starts with a healthy body.  Without a healthy body you cannot accomplish anything. Exercise while it may be painful during, makes you feel good afterwards. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind.  A healthy mind gives you the ability to think clearly, logically, and strategically.  These are all skills entrepreneurs need to use everyday.
  2. CrossFit is both an individual and team sport. So is entrepreneurship. Both require that you set individual and team (aka company) goals.  In both cases, you should have a long-term objective. In both cases if you set smaller, daily, challenging yet achievable goals, you will have a greater chance of reaching your desired outcomes.
  3. Crossfit like running a business is never the same routine.  Working out and managing the operations of a business is never ending. If you give it your all every day you will never let yourself or your company down.  CrossFit also teaches you how to manage multiple things at the same time and how to prioritize.  Important business skills.
  4. In CrossFit it is all about showing up and execution.  This includes stretching, warming up, exercising, and cooling down. In business this equals researching, preparing, executing, and following through.  Taking time to prepare for what you are going to do will allow you to execute better and that doesn’t only relate to what happens in a gym.
  5. In CrossFit if you aren’t a puddle of sweat afterwards you lack commitment. In business if you don’t feel like you’ve given it your all, you lack determination.  A business cannot succeed without determination and your body will not get into shape without commitment.
  6. Getting in shape isn’t a sprint but a marathon.  You train daily for incremental improvement. The end game comes from your ability to stay on track and endure the hard work. Growing a business doesn’t happen overnight and neither does getting rich.  So go into it with a long-term outlook and you can get both the business and body you desire.
  7. It isn’t about the weight but the form. I’ve never had a CrossFit coach tell me to put on more weight. As a matter of fact I usually do less than the prescribed women’s weight.  However what I do hear is coaching (aka mentorship in business) about how to perform the exercise (or deal with a business challenge).  In business execution isn’t always about how fast you do something but how well you do it.  People judge you for what you can accomplish and how well you accomplish it.
  8. In CrossFit even though you might have done an exercise 100 times, they teach it to you as if it were your first time. In business repetition is key.  Employees and investors need to understand what you are trying to accomplish.  By repeating it you reinforce in them what you want them to know, what you want them to do, how you want them to do it, and what outcome you expect.
  9. There is risk everywhere. You might have heard stories about people hurting themselves doing CrossFit. In CrossFit you are taught over and over how to perform an exercise. (See repetition above).  They teach you the right way to do an exercise and also show you the wrong way. Nonetheless, people sometimes don’t listen or forget what they are taught.  That can lead to harm. Business is the same.  You need to listen to learn.  You need to practice to make perfect but there’s always the risk that something could go wrong.  There are no guarantees.
  10. You can’t think negative thoughts and complete a rigorous workout the same as you can’t think negative thoughts and succeed as an entrepreneur. You need to think positivehave a “can do” attitude, and push forward.  You need to have a dose of humility and a strong sense of confidence.  Not everyone can lift heavy weights (nor should they). And not everyone can take on the challenges of starting and growing a business. You need to be honest about what you can do however you should be confident in your capabilities.
  11. Be encouraging and help others.  Ever try to exercise when people tell you not to?  Ever try to work when people tell you not to?  It is easy to skip out.  If you are encouraging and helping others chances are they’ll be better off for it and you’ll feel good about it.  A simple “you can do it” shows you care.  It will also engage people to do more than they think they can.  It sure helps when lifting heavy weights.
  12. Competition is a natural part of CrossFit. It is also a natural part of business and life. How you deal with it determines how you will succeed.  Look at competition with a positive attitude and not something from which to run away.
  13. Engage diversity.  In CrossFit, you don’t have to be a 20 something white male to compete.  Thanks to crowdfunding now you don’t have to live in Silicon Valley and be a tech only company to start and grow a business.  You can be a minoirty in an innercity but leverage your online social network to help you succeed. Embrace who you are, what you want to do, and a community of people around you to fulfill your dreams.
  14. Watch others but be your own person.  In Crossfit I like to see how others are performing an exercise and when they hit exhaustion. I use that to pace myself so that I can complete what I need in the time allocated.  In business survey the landscape to see what others are doing.  Use that to strategically plan your path forward.  And finally …
  15. A fist bump means “job well done,” “I’m proud of you,” “we did it,” “let’s keep on going.”  Start bumping fists or whatever else you can do to commend people in your business and around you on a job well done.  It is a small gesture that will carry you and your company a long way.