I have been waiting and planning for this weekend for years, and it’s finally here! November 11 is the first annual CTS Figueroa Mountain Gran Fondo and I am out in Santa Ynez, California surrounded by friends, athletes, coaches, and former 7-Eleven teammates. We had an incredible Legends Dinner last night, we’re riding a great route today, and enjoying a great post-ride party hosted by Figueroa Mountain Brewing this afternoon. Building a new event is not unlike preparing for an important athletic goal. If you have an ambitious goal you’re shooting for, here is the 6-step plan I use to make goals become reality.
Make it personal
Long-term goals require a lot of commitment, and you’re more likely to stay committed to a goal you find personally valuable. Even more important, the value needs to be intrinsic rather than extrinsic. For me, creating the Figueroa Mountain Gran Fondo was about bringing athletes, coaches, friends, and teammates together to share an unforgettable experience. When things got tough in the process of planning the event, I could reflect on my intrinsic, personal goal to keep me energized and positive.
Determine what success looks like
This is a crucial question for anyone pursuing a goal, because success looks different for different people. For some athletes, winning is the only definition of success. But for athletes who are not as competitive, success may be achieving a goal time, riding or running with a friend in an event, or feeling strong and prepared all the way to the finish line. From the beginning I have had a clear vision of what success looks like for me in terms of the Fig Fondo. It’s hanging out after the ride, swapping stories with happy and tired athletes who had a great day on the bike.
One of the biggest things I learned as an athlete and coach is the value of time. The earlier to you start working on your goal the better you can prepare and the more you’re able to compensate for inevitable setbacks. Not only is it important to start early, but it’s also important to push hard at the beginning. Typically you can make a lot of progress pretty quickly at the beginning, and then the steps required for progress get more difficult as you get closer to your goal. Sometimes my coaches and staff question my zeal to push hard on goals that are a year or more in the future, until they realize how valuable it is to have time in the bank when something goes awry later on.
Build your team
There is no way I could have created the Figueroa Mountain Gran Fondo by myself. This goal, like so many others in my life, was only accomplished with the help of an amazing support team. Although there were too many people to name individually on this page, I do want to specifically thank Event Director Dave Priest, who took the proverbial bull by the horns and produced a first-class event. Additionally, the general manager of the CTS Santa Ynez Training Center, Kirk Nordgren, and marketing whiz, Cory Bruno, went above and beyond in planning and promoting the Fig Fondo. And the entire team at CTS did a great job supporting the event and making this a great weekend. As an athlete, coach, and business owner I have learned team is more important than talent. That doesn’t mean talent isn’t important, but rather that great talent won’t help you if the team is dysfunctional. When you’re pursuing a valuable and ambitious sporting goal, a great support team (family, coach, friends, massage therapist, physical therapist, doctor, etc.) can play a pivotal role in enabling you to achieve your goal.
Do your homework
According to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, there are known knowns (things you know you know), known unknowns (things you know you don’t know), and unknown unknowns (things you don’t know you don’t know). When you’re preparing to do anything for the first time, all three of those conditions are true. That’s why doing your homework is huge part of accomplishing any goal. You have to eliminate as many known unknowns as possible and uncover as many unknown unknowns as you can. You will never know everything, but the more you know the better prepared you’ll be to figure out unexpected problems.
Don’t let up
A disproportionate number of goals go off the rails close the finish line. When you have been working toward a goal for months or even years, there is a certain level of cognitive fatigue that sets in. You’re so close to completing your goal, but you’re also tired of focusing on it. This sometimes leads people to lose focus and get distracted when they’ve already done 95% of the work! On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who get overconfident about their preparation and think they can let up and coast the rest of the way to their event. You don’t want to make either mistake. Stay focused, lean on your support team for encouragement, and don’t take anything for granted.
These six steps have led me to achieve some of the most valuable goals in my life, including making the US Olympic Team, coaching the US Olympic Team, building a coaching company, and – most recently – launching the Figueroa Mountain Gran Fondo. My hope is that you can use them – or have already used similar steps – to achieve valuable goals in your own life!
CEO/Head Coach of CTS