Earlier this year, social media lit up for a few days after a University of Oregon runner, Tonguy Pepiot, narrowly lost the men’s steeplechase event at the Pepsi Team Invitational. It was back in April and Pepiot, well ahead as he approached the finish line, slowed down and raised his arms in celebration of his apparent victory. But while Pepiot slowed down, another runner, Meron Simon from the University of Washington, stepped on the gas. Simon closed the gap and thrust his chest through the tape, winning the event and leaving Pepiot both confused and defeated.
“Run through the finish.” It’s something coaches around the world repeat time and time again.I heard a version of it many time (and shouted it some too) during my son’s time on his school swimming team. It’s a message you’d think would eventually get through – especially to those competing at the elite level. And with video of Pepiot’s faux pas preserved on YouTube, surely nothing like this would happen for a long time, right?
Just ask Ben Payne. He slowed down at the finish of the 10,000 meter Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia on July 4th. As Payne lifted his finger in victory, Scott Overall of Great Britain caught up and stole first place by 9/100ths of a second.
Or ask Olympic hopeful Molly Huddle. At the IAAF World Championships held in in Beijing in August, she had the bronze medal of the 10,000 meter race nailed down. She slowed down to celebrate and teammate Emily Infield blew by her to grab the last spot on the podium.
For some reason, there’s a temptation to coast as you near the end of the race. For those in front, perhaps there’s a desire to conserve energy for the next big event. Maybe those in back have a hard time believing the distance can’t be made up. Maybe everyone just gets tired.
Of course the same holds true for those of us competing in business. . Especially at this time of year, people tend to take their foot off the gas. The holiday season always seems to signal it’s time to coast.
But just like an athlete, there’s benefit to running through the finish. Who’s to say stopping now guarantees a win? Who’s to say it guarantees a loss? The only way to know for sure is to run all the way. Postpone the celebration or mourning until the final results are posted.
Here are a few tips for finishing the year strong:
- Develop micro-goals. Take the ground you have yet to cover and break it into smaller, more manageable chunks. Need to sell 100 widgets between now and the end of the year? Turn that into a weekly or daily goal and put your energy into achieving that.
- Focus on behaviors. Identify the specific actions you need to take in order to close the gap and work to execute those. Keep your mind on performing consistently and let the results speak for themselves.
- Ramp up the motivation. It’s easy to stay energized an excited during the opening laps of a long race; but it’s down the stretch – when you’re tired and ready to give up – that motivation is critical. Give yourself and your team a needed boost of encouragement to keep the pace until the very end.
Last minute finishes are very exciting – as long as you cross the line first. Make sure to find yourself on the top of the podium by finishing strong. Run through the finish. If you need some help finding your second wind, don’t hesitate to call. I would love to help you celebrate a victory.