5 Steps to Drive Innovation from Lessons in Resilience
Innovation and Resilience. These two words have had more impact on me in 2018 than I could ever expect, both in personal and professional ways. Due to physical challenges, the evolving cycle of our family and the pivots we’ve made here at Rocksauce; they’ve taught me more about how we can use our challenges to continuously improve.
I once wrote that “while some see the road ahead as an obstacle, I see it as opportunities” and I believe these words to be true every day. This year, I had set out a few goals for myself and the business. I wanted to tackle some opportunities I had never tackled before. For the most part, we got through the year hitting a number of benchmarks while being challenged with a multitude of obstacles in our way. I wanted to share my story of how my plans to finish my first half marathon were almost thwarted, and what tools I used to innovate my process for completion.
My First Half Marathon
The most ambitious goal I set for 2018 was to run a half marathon, my first half marathon, by the end of the year. This was particularly challenging since I had also scheduled a major surgery in March and had no idea what recovery plan lay ahead. Luckily, the opportunity to have the procedure gave me the chance to rest and map out a road plan to attainably reach my goal. Once I was cleared for exercise, I hit the ground running (pun firmly intended) and training in an effort to ramp up for my first half marathon on December 9th.
I ran short runs during the week and piggybacked on longer runs on the weekends with various workout buddies. The plan was working out really well. I not only believed I could do it but that I could do it at a reasonably fast pace. I invested in a great pair of shoes, started foam rolling and even overcame my fear of entering a cryo chamber and enjoyed a session of cryotherapy before the big day.
I felt I was ready to tackle this half-marathon. And then, surprise! My first major leg injury occurred with just a week to go! Every practice run I did all I could to rest and improve recovery but ultimately had to alter my goal from a perfectly placed under a 10-minute mile to just finishing the event in one piece.
When it came to race day, I was disappointed with myself but I knew I had to adjust and take the opportunity to grow and ponder on what would be next. Mile 1 was a great 9:40 pace and the numbers kept increasing as the sensation of pain and burning throttled me between jogging miserable and fast walking.
Every time I passed a medical station, I thought, ‘Okay, I can just quit now. Thanks.’ But, every time, I ran through, pushing forward, never stopping, no matter the pain or discomfort. All I could think about was getting through, completing the task at hand. I knew there would be other half marathons, and I’ll have time to reflect, recover and innovate my training plan for the next race ahead. I finally crossed the finish at 2:33, over 20 minutes from my goal finish. Hugged my husband, kids, and friends and celebrated the fact that I finished.
I’m still recovering from this event, but I’ve already started created a training plan to adjust to the strain in my quads. I reviewed what I had done to create the problem that occurred and have made adjustments in my future training plans. I have been implementing new tools to get better results from how I feel before, during and after my next event and that’s why resilience and innovation mattered to me.
What I learned:
- Create a plan
This part was easy for me, but may not be for you. Before taking a big bite of the 13.1 I had never run an event longer than 5 miles at a time.
I’d recommend starting with the goal date in mind and work your way back to where you currently are. Create something measurable and attainable so you aren’t intentionally setting yourself up for failure.
- Develop a team for support
I found a variety of running partners that ran a variety of distances and speeds to challenge me to reach my endurance of being able to complete the 13.1 miles on the big day.
Paramount to this thought is to develop a team of diverse individuals whose experiences would teach and challenge your beliefs about what you’re working on. This increases your ability to learn from their collective input and apply what makes the most sense for meeting your goals.
- Be open to new tools to help you reach your goal
Back pain, knee pain, and joint pain started affecting the way I felt about my long runs. I had to develop a new suite of tools to manage long-term injuries that I had never considered before: new shoes, cryotherapy & foam rolling for example.
Approaching a new challenge or solving a problem in a different way often requires a suite of new tools to assist us in reaching our goals. Be open and even seek out new tools that will expand your ability to learn and grow while creating something new.
- Remind yourself the plan might fail, the thing you can control is what happens next.
I had to recognize that at some point I may not hit the exact goal I wanted to hit. But bigger than that, I knew I had to try to run a half marathon and I did cross the finish line.
When in doubt, revisit recommendation number 1. If you are afraid of failure, you might be uncomfortable setting goals. However, goals help us define where we want to go in life. Without goals, we have no sure destination.
- Give yourself time and space to recover, review and reset expectations
In the days following the race, It took time to recover and challenge the reasons why things ended the way they did. I was frustrated and careful to be mindful of my self-talk in the process. I had to reset my expectations of myself to a more sustainable training plan.
If you’ve never done a post-mortem after a project success or failure, I’d suggest implementing them now to encourage a culture of reflection, developing best practices and a cycle of continuous innovation on your team.
The only thing that holds us back from innovation is ourselves. Developing the tools to forge the path of resilience is key to the exercise of innovation.
At Rocksauce, we design innovation sprints, pilot, create and develop new ideas, solutions, and software for companies big or small. Reach out to us today to see how an innovation or design sprint workshop can encourage goal-setting, ideation, and innovation at your company.