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1 hour 59 minutes 40.2 seconds

What’s significant about that time?

That’s how long it took the Kenyan runner, Eliud Kipchoge to run the marathon in Vienna last weekend.

The significance was that he was the first man to run a marathon in under 2 hours.

Eliud Kipchoge is a great marathon runner. He has won the London Marathon four-times and he holds the official world record time.

But he had never done it in under 2 hours. And then last weekend in Vienna he finally fulfilled his goal. His time will not be ratified by the sport’s governing body, the IAAF, as an official world record because it was not run in open competition, and it was run with the use of pacemakers.

But nevertheless, it is a remarkable achievement.

Guided by lasers from a support car in front so that he knew he was on target and with the help of 41 pacemakers, the 2-hour barrier for the marathon had finally been broken.

To put it in context, it’s the equivalent of running 100 metres in 17 seconds. But doing it 422 times in a row without stopping.

Of course, the entire venture was about setting out to achieve a very specific goal. And that’s a lesson that is highly relevant for us as entrepreneurs. Kipchoge set himself a very specific goal and that was to be the first man to run a marathon – 26.2 miles in under 2 hours. Conventional wisdom had said for years that it couldn’t be done. But then conventional wisdom said that a man couldn’t run a mile in under 4 minutes until Roger Bannister did it in 1954.

So, having set the specific goal, Kipchoge and his team then needed to map out all the elements that had to be put in place to make it happen. So, for instance they needed:

  • An air temperature of between 10 and 12 degrees.
  • No breeze.
  • A completely flat track.
  • A special car with lasers shining onto the road ahead to help Kipchoge pace his run.
  • A group of top-level runners to act as pacemakers.
  • The provision of fluids given to him during the race in such a way that Kipchoge didn’t have to pause or break his stride

These and other elements all had to be planned out and carefully thought through, ensuring nothing was missed and that all possible issues had been taken into account.

Kipchoge could easily have become overwhelmed by what he was trying to achieve. Instead he took his goal and reached it by careful planning, breaking the goal down into smaller measurable steps and then executing exactly as planned.

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we are no different. We can often feel overwhelmed by all that we’re trying to achieve. We may be trying to grow our business and have targets in mind of what we are trying to achieve. But then life and business get in the way and we never reach our intended goals.

The solution is to do exactly the same as Kipchoge. Get specific!

In other words, break the big, seemingly unachievable goal down into much smaller, specific steps that are achievable. This has the effect of making the ‘impossible’ suddenly seem ‘possible’.

That’s what happened in Vienna last weekend. The ‘impossible’ was broken down into a series of ‘possible’ steps and something remarkable happened.

Your business is no different. Take time this week to look at a big goal you’re trying to achieve within your business and break it down into specific, attainable steps. Then execute and importantly keep going.

And watch your business fly!