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A Spectator or a Competitor?

By September 12, 2014Advice
A spectator or a competitor?

A spectator or a competitor?

“The road to financial success is lined by those who were always going to, but never did”.

I love the Tour De France. Each July my bleary eyes pay tribute to long nights in front of the telly (on an exercise bike if you were wondering) watching the lycra clad heroes tooling around the French (and other) countryside, struggling through the pain and the exhaustion to reach the prize for which they have always lusted.

I think why I love this event in particular is because for me it is the perfect mixture of the head and the heart. Not for me the explosiveness of the velodrome sprints, or T20 cricket, or 100m hurdles. The type of sport that I appreciate involves tactics, strategy, mind games, the dominance of the brain over the body, the ability to go on when your spent. There is also the time in these kind of events for the competitor who is able to out-think their opponent to triumph. A bit like business really.

So is this how business is? Is this how life is? Financially at least, I think that it is. Le Tour competitors ride on their long weary road to success through a tunnel of onlookers cheering them on, and pass those spectators by in an instant. The riders reach their goal because they keep pedalling, keep moving, keep doing something, while the onlookers watch as they go by.

Many people who I talk to come to me because they have been watching for too long, and in order to reach their goal now only have the steep uphill climb in front of them. Their financial journey would have been so much easier if they had only started the climb lower down where the going was easier. They can still reach the goal, but they need to work really hard to get there, and some will never get started.

So why is this? Is the climb too steep, or is it just that they aren’t willing to start pedalling? When asked what is needed to reach their financial goal, many have never even addressed the question. When shown the easy way to get started, with only a little effort, the decision to start is postponed for so long that the Col de La Tourmalet is all they can see in front of them, so they never get on the bike. At a recent Retirement Expo I was repeatedly asked what could I do for someone retiring next year who knows they don’t have enough. Answer, not much.

Whilst still in primary school I remember looking with envy at my mate’s new bike which she had diligently saved to buy for a couple of years while I had been spending my pocket money on ice cream. I thought to myself how lucky she was, but of course luck had nothing to do with it. She had identified a goal and gone for it, whilst I was standing by, gaining weight and eating my ice-cream watching her achieve her goals, whilst I wasn’t even sure what mine were yet. I was by the side of the road watching the riders go by on the road to success.

Financially you can achieve much with only a little provided you have plenty of time. In business you can grow steadily much more easily than trying to achieve exponential growth. What is required is for your mind to take control over the reluctance of your body, for you to begin the climb while you are full of energy rather than when you are already tired, and above all to not blow out by going too hard early, and you need a good support crew around you. There is no way to get rich quickly that I have ever found, short of robbing a bank or winning the lottery. It is possible to get rich slowly, but you have to be determined to do so.

Dreaming of Le Tour

Dreaming of Le Tour

The delicious irony is that one my own goals, an item on my bucket list, one of the markers of success for me, is to be in a sufficiently secure position both financially and in business, to be able to spend three weeks watching those riders go by in person, on their road to success. I’m pedalling, are you?

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