I’m a pretty competitive person. Actually, very competitive. Not so much with other people but mostly with myself. And nowhere is my competitiveness more evident than when I’m on my bike. Even before I knew what it meant to be competitive I always wanted to push myself to go farther and faster than my last ride. And in all the years since that passion to improve hasn’t changed. Every ride is a challenge to be better than the last.  And if I don’t meet that goal I try to think about how I could have better used my energy, where I could have picked up the pace, when I could have eased up to conserve energy, and a million other things. Crazy as it sounds, this is how I relax.

Recently I thought about how my approach to bicycling can be viewed as a microcosm for running my business. To compete as a bicyclist you need to have a strategy before every ride. You need to know where your ascents and descents are going to be, their grades, and how you can best take advantage of them. Knowing your optimal and most efficient cadence is critical. And you need to know when to ease up and let your competitor take the lead, let them take on the wind resistance so you can conserve energy, and pass them the instant the opportunity presents itself.

Sounds like the strategy you need for just about anything in life, doesn’t it?

By relating something I’ve been doing longer than almost anything else in my life I’ve found it easier to plan an effective business strategy. I’ve related conserving energy with conserving dollars, eliminating monthly expenses for services and products preventing me from being more efficient. How I approach a steep uphill can be equated with how I handle the typical slow time from January through March. And when business picks up in the spring I can apply the lessons of using gravity to go as fast as I can without crashing. And finding the right rhythm of business? I can directly relate that to establishing proper cadence on the bike trail.

Taking something that’s very familiar to you and applying it to something new can help with planning and clarity. It doesn’t matter if it’s a business strategy or saving for your kid’s college education. You may already have the knowledge you need to achieve success.

Charlie Cotugno is the owner of Charles Cotugno Photography in Woodinville, WA specializing in fine art portraits for families, high school seniors, and special needs clients. In addition he provides commercial photography services to businesses of all sizes. He is also the founder and board president of the non-profit organization Stories of Autism, a network of over 150 photographers from around the U.S. whose mission is to increase awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorders. For more information about Charlie and Stories of Autism please visit www.cotugnophoto.com.