Strategy Execution Is Easy, If You Approach It This Way.

Conferences this early in the year are focused on the strategy for the year ahead, the business plan, sales plan and marketing plan. How do you ensure the execution mirrors the plan developed?

The event brief for this week’s sales conference was just that, “ How do our sales teams create a sales plan that will see them hit their goals for the coming year?”.

Well, it’s not the sales plan, or in fact any plan that’s needs to be created in a way that can be achieved. It has a lot more to do with how “you” will achieve it. And that’s the part we all miss.

It’s one thing having a strategy that covers all required objectives and assumed challenges that have the potential to impact the success of the plan. However, actually executing the plan is the greater challenge as it is generally ourselves that stand in the way of a success.

As an adventurer that runs wilderness mountain ranges that span entire nations, I have to do a huge amount of planning for a project that can last for several months. There is so much that can go wrong and a plan is essential to make sure it all goes right. However even with all the planning in the world, I nearly lost my life because I was standing in the way of the plan.

It was when I set the record of being the first person to run New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail, a 3,054km mountain wilderness trail , that travelled end to end of both islands. I had been warned repeatedly about a particular section that was always known for its horrific weather conditions and virtually no emergency access of any kind.  Highlighted by a number of experienced mountain guides found perished in these dangerous parts.

Warnings and plans in place, I made sure I had all the necessary gear to both run and sit out any adverse weather, that the mountains might throw at me. I had emergency gear and GPS devices to make sure I was on track to knock off the 280km section in the three days planned.

However, all that planning was a waste of time. The rain came down sideways, lightning struck and hit all around me and the fog was so thick I couldn’t see my own feet. I started to feel more than a little out of my depth and fearful as to what might happen.

All of a sudden (*&^%$#@%^&*()(^%%FHUH*^^#IJ..........................

I was lying on my back looking up at the thick grey fog above me. Feeling nothing at all. I expected a hand to pop out of the clouds with a deep voice and say “welcome”.

What had happen was that I had tumbled 80 metres down a mountain side, only to be saved by two small rocks that my pack had lodged itself on before a 400m drop off a cliff face.

An accident? No, I was standing in the way of the plan. I hadn’t planned for what happens when I get uncertain, uncomfortable and fearful. My attention was on other things far away from the strategy of getting through these parts safely, and with that a single trip nearly ended horrifically.

Sticking to a plan means we have to have a mental plan for when things are uncertain or it will be “us “ that stops the original plan from happening .

Richard Bowles works in the field of progress. He has an extensive and unique background when it comes to how leaders, their teams and entrepreneurs push through problems, challenges and difficulties to gain and sustain results.

To find out more and to see how Richard may help your business or | @runpreneur

Self belief isn't powerful enough

You have heard a thousand times about the power of self-belief, you might have felt it, you might be experiencing it currently. And if you have it, you will just keep getting up when you are knocked down,  you will never take “no” for an answer and you will find a way no matter what.

This is true, I have had a truckload of self-belief to get to where I am today. To run across mountain ranges that span entire nations upwards of 5,000km takes a huge amount of believing in yourself and your abilities. But, can this alone keep you pushing forward when everything is pushing back? I don’t think so.

Self-belief alone is floored because it can be knocked out of you. I know, I’ve been there. I have had some of the strongest beliefs, so strong in fact that I thought I was bullet proof for long periods of time. However, repeated knockbacks, difficulties that swiped me sideways and a constant resistance to trying to succeed, eventually took its toll.

It was a gradual process; I didn’t see it coming. I just ended up in a place where I didn’t have the same amount of confidence that I once had, and didn’t believe that I could achieve the goals that I had set for myself. What happened?

Well, when life repeatedly fires bullets at you and overtime the gun gets bigger, even a bullet proof vest can only hold up for so long. That’s because a bullet proof vest is only one layer thick, we need multi layers of protection if we are to keep our beliefs, believable.

Self-belief is powerful, but more powerful than that is, others believe in you. We need a team of people who believe what you believe, that can push you when you feel you can’t push yourself. A team that picks you up and dusts you off when you think it’s your final fall. Because truth has it, we can’t always go it alone.

The bigger belief network, the more layers you have between you, and giving up.  If a bullet gets through, it has to get through another layer and another layer and so on, eventually it will run out of power.

A team of people can do more than keep you advancing forward, they help you stay on the right track, they are great to share and validate your ideas. They keep you engaged, excited and responsible.

That’s why religion is so powerful, there is a huge amount of people believing the same thing, sharing the same beliefs.  Your own self-belief needs to like that, go deep and wide with others that are on your side, you never know, you might start a new religion. 

Richard Bowles works in the field of Sustained Progress. He has an extensive and unique background when it comes to how leaders, their teams and entrepreneurs push through problems, challenges and difficulties to gain and sustain results.

To find out more and to see how Richard may help your business or | @runpreneur

A Straight-line of struggle, brings success sooner

Our everyday successes are a race against time. We literally have 24 hours to get to what we can done before that very day is lost forever.  In fact, we don’t really have 24 hours, we have far less when you take out all the things we need to do as humans for our very survival, sleeping, eating etc. That being the case our success really boils down to the speed at which we approach the things we have to do,  to reach what it is we are trying to attain.

“But life is already fast paced", you might say.  "If I do anymore in the time allocated I’m just going to be burnt out?” True, if we are just to  go, go, go,  it doesn’t take long before we get sick or breakdown. The key  to success, is in not allowing your discomforts to discourage you or alter your direction, or even  worse,  stop you in your tracks!

Every day we come face to face with things that we don’t want to do, uncomfortable things, painful things, things that scare us. We either try and do it a different way which can send us around in circles or we take a  longer approach to achieve the same outcome, resulting in slowing down our rate of progress to success.

To get more done, is sometimes as simple as going in a straight-line. That means going straight through the middle of those barriers and blocks that we try and avoid. Straight lines make more sense; you just have to draw a line from where you are now to the goal you are trying to reach to see that it’s shorter route.

African-American social reformer Frederick Douglass said “if there is no struggle, there is no progress”

What he is saying is that progress, development and improvement all involve going through (not avoiding) the very things that are scary, painful and uncomfortable to us. A struggle as he calls it, and no doubt what it feels like.

It’s not the path of least resistance in this case, but the path with the biggest resistance that will see you get there sooner.

“Move forward doesn't mean avoiding the pain, 
but look towards a new day in spite of the rain.” 


Words to delete from your 2017 goals

Richard Bowles, Motivational Speaker

I think we need to ban a few words in the goals dictionary and in life. There are two in particular, that I get tired of hearing, “just” and “only”.

As part of my work with business teams I have many people sharing their next big thing with me, they always start with these words. “I JUST ………” or “I ONLY…………”

It’s bigger than that and you’re better than that. I don’t care if your goal is to meet your company’s sales budget or be the company’s CEO, these words show lack in confidence and belittle what you are trying to achieve.

Do you think that sprinter Usain Bolt has ever said that he’s JUST running 100m? or Steve jobs was ONLY starting a computer company?

It’s important that you have some confidence in your goals. Believe wholeheartedly in what you are doing and be unafraid of what others think. “We compare ourselves to others”, I hear this frequently. Many think because I run mountain ranges that span nations covering up to 95km a day, that I must feel that their personal goals are insignificant in comparison. That is far from any belief I have. I get blown away and constantly in awe of ambitions achieved and the ease of how they are achieved.

The comparisons are irrelevant. The fear of what others think is ridiculous. Downsizing your goals with the likes of “just” and “only”, well…….there’s no just or only about it. Give your goals the purpose they deserve. If you are going to do something, never belittle it. Make a solid statement and stand firm on your goal, it’s amazing what you are doing, no matter what the scale!

So next time you're asked what you are doing, you know the answer. Now get out there and get closer to the end result.     

Richard Bowles works in the field of Sustained Progress. He has an extensive and unique background when it comes to how leaders, their teams and entrepreneurs push through problems, challenges and difficulties to gain and sustain results.

To find out more and to see how Richard may help your business or | @runpreneur

My keynote that turned around an under-performing team

Speaking to a group of salespeople at their year-end conference, the brief wasn’t pretty. Sales figures were down on previous years , creating low morale within the organisation. How do you change those feelings and make sure those people, not only finish the year strong, but have a plan in place for the New Year to deliver consistent results?

I called a few salespeople in advance, from the team’s top performers, to the lower performers on the sales board. What I heard was a whole lot of excuses as to why they were struggling to meet budgets. What was made clear to me, was something we all need to have in place if we want to not only meet sales budgets,  but win at whatever it is we are striving for?

When delivering the keynote, I knew people had to be told the cold hard facts, but if you go about a presentation in that way, you have the whole audience against you, and the message and actionable takeaways fall on deaf ears.

It had to be about not what the company fell short on but what they personally didn’t achieve. Let me explain.

What was it, that they didn’t achieve over the last 11 months outside of their career? Maybe they didn’t get to renovate the bathroom, manage to send their kid to school camp, or book that holiday of a lifetime. It could be anything. But rather than them being told what they didn’t achieve at work, what didn’t they achieve that’s personal to them, what they care about and what sparks that “emotional connection”.

I’m not under the illusion that everybody goes to work because they're passionate about what they do. The fact is if most of us won the Lotto, we wouldn’t be back in the office come Monday or well at least serve our notice.

It’s easier to get excited and commit to your own goals than it is your organisation.  From this emotional space I could make them accountable for their results.   Why? Because it became personal and not solely professional.

What they needed now was to be responsible for their “own” success and not just that of the company’s.  Creating a sense of accountability of what was not achieved  their personal lives , and the knock on effect to others is critical to driving the message home.

The “knock on” effect can be highlighted by building  a list of others that get affected by your underperformance.  This has to start with “you” but easily the first impact it has is on your immediate family, your loved ones and children. Even if it’s not about just providing financially for them,  what impact does your low morale from not achieving at work have on them.  What about your friends, a club or church if you are part of one? How about your local community? What great thing could have been done if you were firing on all cylinders and kicking goals in your career?

We can be accountable to a wider amount of people than just ourselves. We can feel obligated to be successful when we have all these people relying on us. We need to build a bigger responsibility than just us. We could call it a pressure to perform, but it’s broader than that. We have a whole group of people that, not only rely on us, but support us in what we do. It's humbling if you think about it?

We all need an accountability plan, a list of people that we are responsible to and obligated to perform at our best for. They will keep us engaged and help validate what we are doing. The bigger and wider the list of people, the better chance you have.

I left the stage, knowing I had just added yet another layer to my own accountability list. I had a whole new group of salespeople that were counting on me to perform at my best and inspire them moving forward into the New Year and beyond.

Success is infectious, it does not live in isolation, it will seep into all areas of your life .

Have fears? You need to close the time gap


Scared of something? Calling that angry customer, having that difficult conversation with an employee or perhaps cold calling a new client. They can all slow us down, make us change direction or worse stop us in our tracks. We all experience this fear at some stage. The impact is the longer you leave it the less chance there is of making it happen. Why? Because fears favourite food is time.

The more time you give to that thing you’re scared of the bigger and stronger it gets, it’s prime muscle building food that consumes minutes, hours and days of our life. It can leave you feeling choked, as it grows so big , it wraps its hand around your throat and restricts your breath. You've felt that right?

On my record breaking run along Australia's 5,330km Bicentennial National Trail, I had to cross the Daintree River on foot. If you know anything about this river in far north Queensland, then you know it's full of crocodiles! I didn't plan to swim across it , I'm a risk taker, but I'm not stupid. I assumed there was a bridge or boat or something, naturally. Assumption incorrect! Crossing the river was a track that dipped into one side of the bank and popped back up over the other side. The challenge was I had to cross it, if I was to create a world record of being the first to run the trail. My mistake wasn't crossing it, my biggest mistake was sleeping on the idea of crossing it. That entire night I tossed and turned, thinking about the terrible outcomes on crossing the river. It wasn't helped by the crocodile tour along the river banks I did that night, where 6 meter crocs lurked at every turn in the river. I had asked the guide about the crossing, he just smiled and gave me the typical Australian response "she'll be right mate". I'm not sure who “she” is but what about me? Next morning after no sleep and a complete 20 chapter story in my head, I eventually crossed the river that was less than waist deep and no crocodiles in sight!

There is a famous saying that is “feel the fear and do it anyway” what they failed to tell you is, doing it anyway means doing at the very point it scared you at. If you don’t commit to it then, you’ll feed it. You’ll prepare it a meal of made up ideas and terrifying outcomes, you’ll create whole scenarios of what might happen. The longer the time line the more creative you become.

Don’t become a Master Chief in scared based dishes. Stop feeding your fears and understand that closing the time gap, makes it a hell of a lot easier to conquer than those scary situations in the first place.

I must note though, fear and danger are two different things. Tackle fears, but don't take unnecessary risks like crocodile infested rivers!

Richard Bowles works in the field of Sustained Progress. He has an extensive and unique background when it comes to how leaders, their teams and entrepreneurs push through problems, challenges and difficulties to gain and sustain results.

To find out more and to see how Richard may help your business or | @runpreneur

Are You Slowing down?

Everyone I’m speaking to right now, seems to be happy that the year is coming to an end. They are looking forward to finally switching off the computer for the last time in 2016,  for what they say is “some much needed rest and recovery”.  However, that doesn’t mean you have to start slowing things down or put off starting anything new?

Lots of people start slowing down come the last quarter of the year, seriously! They are delaying decisions, not driving sales or creating new projects because…well, there is the AFL Grand Final at the end of September, and they need a week to get back into it. Suddenly October's over and now it's racing season throughout November with the Melbourne Cup, and then just like that, Christmas is just around the corner!

Now that’s just the last three months of the year, we have a whole twelve months of holidays, breaks and festivities and if we’re not careful they will slow us down and set us back.

We need to continue, pushing, striving and stretching ourselves if we want the results.  If it does stop , then expect it will set you back weeks. Those that achieve success, don’t slowdown, in fact they are ramping up.  Finishing strong and delivering 110%,  in conjunction with planning next year,  is the secret ingredient to success.  Driving results into the start of 2017, starts with what they do today, and if they slow down now, then January and February are, well, just aren’t going to be a success and sets the tone for the coming year.

We have to continue pushing and stretching  the whole year. Success favours those that are consistent, and you know what they say? It isn’t over until the fat lady sings, or in December's case, the jolly fat guy in the bright red suit.

Don't start the new year slow, speed up now and put yourself way ahead of the rest.

Richard Bowles works in the field of Sustained Progress. He has an extensive and unique background when it comes to how leaders, their teams and entrepreneurs push through problems, challenges and difficulties to gain and sustain results.

To find out more and to see how Richard may help your business or | @runpreneur


I’m told that I am extremely successful based on the many world records I have achieved. However, I believe that success isn’t defined on reaching the goals you have set, but rather on your growth and development. If I was to attain those things without growing into something else, it wouldn’t be a success.

It was great to unpack my ideas of success on the “Get More Success Show” with Warwick Merry. Enjoy the interview.

What Am I Up To?