If you want to run a successful business, or are thinking of quitting your job for a new life of independence, then start training for a marathon now. Or a Channel Swim, or a triathalon, or a 5k fun run or anything which pushes you physically and challenges you to aim for a long-term goal.
There is an intimate link between body and mind. When you step out of your physical comfort zone and start pushing through the pain barrier you realise that you can accomplish plenty of stuff you thought was impossible. Committing to a medium or long term fitness goal also gives you a massive sense of purpose and achievement which carries over into other aspects of your life.
In a teleclass I held last night about how to launch a new business in a recession, many of the questions I was asked in advance centred on issues of safety and security. People wanted to know how to find the courage, and the finances, to step out of their comfort zone and leave their job.
You only have to look at characters like Richard Branson, who regularly challenges himself with wildly ambitious projects, to see the correlation between those who are successful at business and those who never stay in their comfort zone for long. You don’t have to attempt a round-the-world balloon race to reap the benefits, though.
Simon Jayham, a former swimming instructor, big wave surfer, and a businessman who runs SurfGSD in the Gower, told me recently: “Many years ago my swimming coach said: “Whether you make it as a swimmer or not, the fact that you are training six hours a day, week in week out, will install an ethic that will be valuable in your working life.”
He says: “Of course at the time the statement went straight over my head but during those hard periods of learning to ride larger waves, and of course in self-employment, it has certainly been true.”
Some of the world’s most successful traders, (people who have made millions from buying and selling shares on the stockmarket), advocate regular exercise as a mental and physical discipline, an antidote to stress and a source of creativity.
Mason Gilmour, who runs SurfGym in London, and whose novel, Iron Sands, tackles this subject, says: “In our daily lives we almost never move beyond our learned behaviours or beliefs we hold about ourselves. This means we are not exploring our true potential.”
It’s why I challenge you to take up an activity that is outside your comfort zone in my email programme, and why this year I have again personally signed up for the Aspire Channel swim. It runs until December and is a get way to motivate yourself to get fit over the winter.