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Ultrarunning Parallels to Building a Business, Vol. IV - Create a Cadence of Accountability

By Huw Edwards
Jul 14, 2017

This is the fourth post in a series written by our CFO, Huw Edwards. Huw is a “runner”, self-confessed running addict and finisher of numerous ultramarathons including the Leadville 100 mile footrace. In this series, he will explore the similarities between running an ultramarathon and building a business. You can review the previous posts: “Focus on the Wildly Important Goal” here, “Act on Lead Measures” here and “Keep a Compelling Scorecard” here.

Quick Recap

This series lays out my approach to achieving my running goals and how they parallel our formula for executing on our most important strategic priorities at Jungle Disk in the midst of doing everything and anything that represents “keeping the lights on” in our business. In the prior posts, I discussed the process of focusing on a single wildly important goal, in my running case, to ‘Finish the 2017 Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run on August 19th in under 24 Hours.’, how to act on lead measures, and how to keep a compelling scorecard.

To refresh your memory, I am referring to the formula laid out in “The 4 Disciplines of Execution”, which I was unknowingly following in my running endeavours and have now adopted at Jungle Disk to achieve our wildly important company goal for 2017.

The Final Piece of the Puzzle

Whereas the three prior disciplines set up the game, it’s the fourth and final discipline, creating a frequently recurring cycle of accounting for past performances, is where the execution happens. It’s what brings things together and ensures you are “in the game.”

Simple Agenda

As with many effective tools, it’s incredibly simple yet requires the discipline and habit-building of becoming a consistent process. It requires meeting with your “team” weekly for 10-20 minutes and quickly covering the following items:

Account: Report on commitments Review the scoreboard: Learn from successes and failures Plan: Clear the path and make new commitments

My Cadence of Accountability

The critical piece is the “team” and in an individual pursuit such as running, my team is me and my coach, Andy Wooten. We have a 15 minute call every Monday morning where we review the three items listed above.

Each week, I commit to follow the training plan set out for that week. I usually begin by summarizing whether I met that commitment or not and what I learned from the training activities. We then jump into training peaks and review the scorecard for the past week specifically.

Below is an example of a week where I executed perfectly on my commitment for the week:

Green boxes indicate that I ran the prescribed distances for each of the planned runs, I met my weekly mileage target for the week and in addition managed to squeeze in some yoga at home in the evenings to assist with recovery (bonus). And on a personal note I managed to get the training in while still spending time with my in-laws who were visiting San Antonio.

On the other hand, here is an example of week where things didn’t go quite to plan:

I was on track early on but I eventually came up 15 miles short for the week due to missing one run completely (red square) and running short on another (orange square). My explanation was this was the weekend of my sister’s wedding and I had to prioritize helping out with preparations before and after the event. This was a good lesson: there are things in life which are more important than running…. And it’s only one week and we decided to acknowledge this week as a “down week”, a necessary part of any periodized training plan, and adjust the forthcoming weeks appropriately to ensure the end goal is still on track.

Sometimes the results of the past week tells a deeper story giving indications of fatigue or of overtraining. This is all a part of step 2 and 3 of learning from past performance, amending and calibrating the plan going forward and making new plans and commitments for the next week to come.

‘Personal’ Accountability

Reading the examples above, it would be easy to see this as somewhat formulaic. What makes this process so effective is that ‘personal’ nature of the accountability. My coach, Andy, is both a mentor and a friend. He is someone I look up to and someone I trust. He is also someone I don’t want to disappoint. He gives praise when I deservedly meet my commitments and helps with problem solving and provides insight when I often falter. That is one of the key factors here that creates a positive reinforcing mechanism that ties all four of the disciplines together. In doing this, I feel significant. I believe I am doing good ‘work’ and that I will ‘win’ as it pertains to achieving my goals.

Next Time: Final Post Before the Big Race…. Am I on Track to Achieve My Goal?

In the next post, it’s show time. I’ll be out in Colorado and I’ll be reviewing my progress over the past months applying the four disciplines of execution. Check back to see whether I think and feel that I’m ready to crush my goal… Stay tuned!