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December 04, 2009

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Best Advice for Times Like These: Discipline and Hard Work

My father, now 82, is a retired engineer, US Navy.  He is from a generation of Americans that is difficult to find these days.  A war veteran, a husband of 55 years, and a father of 7 children. 

In his 40’s he went for a physical and found he was 210 lbs, had high blood pressure and an incredibly stressful job.  He also was married to my mother (whom I will save for another post), who could generate more Greek food from one small oven than seemed humanly possible. Doc told him that he needed to do something about the weight, particularly given the fact that his father died very young of heart disease.

I think I was 10 years old when all of this occurred, and although all of my older siblings were athletes, I don’t recall my father ever exercising. 

So, with such drastic health news, what did he do?  He bought a pair of running shoes.

He measured the circumference of our yard and did the calculations to determine that 8 times around would equal one mile.  The challenge was that halfway around was a small pond that caught run-off from the road, and drained out through a moat which ran directly across his “track”. 

Ironically, an old toy came to his rescue. We had a metal slide that we all used to play on, which after seven kids and decades of sliding, finally rusted through the joint. Possibly ahead of the recycle movement, or just because of his engineering mind, he dragged the slide to the moat, and found that it fit perfectly across as a bridge. 

And thus, it began. Every day, 8 laps around the yard.  

We lived in Maine, and in that first winter, we thought it not possible for him to continue. But in bitter weather he did -- 100 times around our basement -- that was also a mile.

In the course of the next 4 decades my father went on to run thousands of miles, won hundreds of Masters Races, at one point was nationally ranked in the top 25 -- and oh yes, he lost the weight.

So how’s this all relevant to a blog on a software company's website? It’s very relevant to the creativity, hard work and discipline that all businesses, particularly sales organizations, need to think about these days.

The US economy is not in good shape, the doctor tells us of pending doom; many salespeople feel like giving up, but I would challenge you not to.  Instead, buy a pair of running shoes, measure the circumference of your territory, find out how many laps equal a mile, and START RUNNING!   

-- Tom Scontras, VP, Sales & Marketing

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