I’m sitting in my room at the Tundra Inn located on the shores of Hudson Bay located in Churchill, Manitoba. Churchill is located about 800 miles north of Winnipeg and is the Polar Bear capital of the world. Myself and 13 other runners will take part tomorrow in the first ever “Polar Bear Marathon.” The 900 residents of Churchill are quite intrigued, as there has never been a winter marathon here before. How this came about is why I’m writing this blog because there are a ton of lessons for leaders and business people.
Two years ago, while speaking at a business conference in Winnipeg, I organized an impromptu marathon with four other local runners, all from Winnipeg. The day we ran it was -32C, which for us in the US, is -26F. That was the actual temperature, without factoring in wind. Even for the Canadians, it was cold. One of the runners, a guy named Matt, is a bush pilot for a Canadian company. Matt and I ran much of the marathon together. I asked him if he could get us a charter plane in the winter to Churchill. He said he could and asked what I was thinking. I told him that my dream would be to run a winter marathon in Churchill, with the expectation to see Polar Bears in the wild. He thought I was crazy, but I was not kidding. Two years later, here we are on the eve of the first ever Polar Bear Marathon. People are amazed that we are doing this and wonder what is inside people’s minds who think of things like this and feed on such difficulty.
How does this story apply to the real world? There are three things that come to mind when I think of what I’m doing here in Churchill.
1. Creative Thinking
3. Risk Taking
In a business world that is competitive and an economy that is weak and unstable, creativity is a must have. People continuously have to reinvent themselves, their services and the value that they bring to the table. Expecting to run with what has always has worked in the past will leave you far behind very quickly. Creating an environment in your business to foster people’s creativity is a must. What do you need to change in your company’s culture to promote more creative ideas and thinking from you people?
Second, self-confidence must be strengthened. As I started to run marathons in some of the coldest and harshest climates on earth, I realized that more of my success would come from my mind being strong and not just my body. The same applies to people in the workplace. Skills and certain job functions are important, but one of the weakest muscles in the body of most working employees is the muscle of self-confidence. As a leader, what do you need to do differently to help you people become more confident?
Lastly, those who will get ahead and stay ahead take risks. I’m not talking about being foolish or taking blind chances. I’m talking about increasing your ability to take calculated risks. What new services can you create in your industry? What problems has no company in your industry ever been able to solve for a customer? Why can’t your employees add new dimensions to their roles, incorporating more of their passions, talents and interests to become more engaged in what they do everyday? As a leader, what can you do differently to allow this to happen.
In conclusion, as I sit here in Churchill and think about what I’ve learned to this point over the last two years as we put the Polar Bear Marathon together, I’ve seen so much that is transferable to the real world to help people learn to become more successful. Creative thinking, strengthening the muscle of self-confidence and taking more risks have led 14 of us to this place. It is those same ingredients that lead anyone to more success in their world.
I welcome your comments, feedback and inquires.