The Olympics are on!
One of the earliest events, occurring the day after the opening ceremonies, was the men’s cycling road race – a 250 km route that finished through the streets of London.
An avid cyclist myself (I am proud to say that I have completed three 100-mile races), I was happy to tune in to catch the end of the race.
As I watched two competitors pull away from the main pack (otherwise known as the peloton) -- and sprint toward the finish, I thought about what it takes to win a race like that and what parallels can be drawn for those of us in the sustainability field.
It starts with vision and strategy. The best riders in the world see themselves winning big races, and they know they can do it. For each race they develop a strategy: when to push hard, when to conserve; how to leverage their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses; how to work with their competitors and how to gain advantage over them.
Communication and engagement with the other cyclists is essential during the race. Communication -- both verbal and non-verbal -- can help riders avoid crashes and signal intentions to the benefit of all of the racers. And any cyclist, no matter how strong he or she is, cannot win without cooperating with other riders. A rider also needs to know when to lead and when to follow. It’s essential to be comfortable doing both.
Ultimately, however, it comes down to performance. A strong vision, a good strategy, constant communication and effective engagement with others is all for naught if a cyclist doesn’t have the skills, strength, technique and endurance to outperform the others. Practice, preparation and patience are essential. Winning won’t happen without putting in the miles of training. Investing in the right equipment and getting good coaching are also important.
The ability to integrate all these elements and pull it all together with courage and boldness is what makes a winner. The same is true of sustainability. The companies leading in this sphere are the ones who have vision, engage with others and are working to close the gap between strategy and actual performance.
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