The Case For Warming Up

Oct 10, 2019 | Newsletter

What Works with Tara McMullin

When I first started running races, I thought it was nuts that people would run before the race even started.

While I’d be busy trying to get my bib on straight without jabbing myself with a safety pin, they’d be slowly jogging laps around the parking lot.

I mean, come on, don’t you want to save all that running mojo for the race itself?

Then, I gave that pre-race running stuff a try.

It turns out that they knew something I didn’t know. Shocking, right?

When you take a jog for 5-10 minutes before a race, a bunch of things happen. Your heart rate goes up and it starts delivering blood to your muscles more effectively. Your legs start to lock in that old familiar stride. You take deeper breaths and your lungs flood your blood with oxygen.

Then, when the gun finally goes off, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to get up to speed. You stay comfortable for longer.

Learning to warm up made me a better racer.

I’ve also been working on warming up for business projects, too.

My natural tendency is to throw myself into a new project, idea, revenue stream, or process. I get excited and I’m off to the races (see what I did there?).

Not only is that an unsustainable habit that’s directly led to burnout and self-sabotage more times than I can count, but it also means that I miss on a chance to question my assumptions and seek out help. I lose the chance to make the idea better, to prepare for mistakes and for victory.

Instead of launching into something new without a plan, buy-in, or any idea on how I’m going to follow through, my goal is to be fully prepared.

Alyssa Mastromonaco, who served as President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, writes in her book Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?:

Preparation is protection you can create for yourself; for some people, the hard part may be balancing precautions with paranoia, but in my experience, you can never be too prepared.

As Mastromonaco alludes to, “fully prepared” is a nuanced phrase. For me, the goal isn’t to feel like I have everything figured out before I start–that’s a recipe for never starting in the first place! The goal is to have done my due diligence, be warmed up, and gathered my resources.

Here’s what that might look like:

  1. Write down brilliant idea and temper my urge to do #allthethings right away
  2. Analyze how that brilliant idea would impact our customers, revenue, operations, our team, my workload, etc…
  3. Realize that the brilliant idea is a good idea that needs some work
  4. Ask for buy-in from team members by fully explaining the good idea, asking for their feedback, and linking the idea to our mission & vision
  5. Create a test for the good idea that involves engaging customers, planning the initial procedures, and identifying a clear goal
  6. Analyze the test results and plan for full implementation or adapt the good idea and test again

Honestly, I’m not 100% there yet on warming up and being fully prepared–but each step I take towards that goal has yielded incredible results.

How do you warm up for new business projects? What does “fully prepared” look like in your business?

With gratitude,

Tara McMullin
Founder, What Works


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Host of What Works

Tara is a podcaster, small business community leader, strategist, and speaker. She’s been helping small business owners build stronger businesses for over a decade.  

Tara McMullin, What Works Weekly Newsletter

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