Slowly, Slowly: An Endurance Athlete’s Four Lessons for Going the Distance

What does manufacturing leadership have in common with running marathons or climbing mountains? Steven Pivnik is the perfect person to answer this question!

Steven is an entrepreneur who brough great growth and success to his company Binary Tree during his tenure as CEO. He is also an accomplished endurance athlete, who has reached the summits of Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro. He has competed in dozens of marathons and Ironman triathlons, including the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. (If you’re unfamiliar with this feat, Ironman is a grueling triathlon that combines a 2.5-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.22-mile marathon run—all in about 16 hours!)

Steven recently came onto the Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast to talk about the intersections of entrepreneurship and endurance sports, plus shared some of the lessons he highlights in his book Built to Finish: How to Go the Distance in Business and Life. Whether you’re ready to scale mountains, run marathons, or change how you show up on the manufacturing floor, Steven has great insights for you!

Go the Distance, Tip #1: Avoid the Shortcuts

In both sports and business, shortcuts often cause more harm than good! When you take a shortcut on a task, like hiring a new team member or building a product, it makes seem like a quick and simple fix. But shortcuts can come back to bite you, leading to an increased risk of mistakes, unsustainable outcomes, and a greater sense of disconnect in your organization.

Go the Distance, Tip #2: “Pole pole!”

In Swahili, “pole pole” means “slowly, slowly.” Steven heard this phrase many times while climbing Kilimanjaro, as local guides reminder him to take it slow and not rush the journey. Like shortcuts, going too fast can lead to rushed outcomes and missed connections—or serious health issue, if you’re climbing a mountain. “Pole pole” is a powerful reminder to take it slow and practice intentionality, especially when it comes to forming connections with your team.

Go the Distance, Tip #3: Stronger Relationships, Better Results

When people have strong relationships with others at work, they’re more likely to show up feeling motivated, encouraged, and ready to give it their all on the manufacturing floor. To improve outcomes in your organization, commit to getting to know your team. Ask curious questions and shift your mindset to foster more meaningful relationships, and it can have a positive impact on your entire organization.

Go the Distance, Tip #4: Everyone has Greatness

Everyone has greatness and a story to tell! If you’re open, curious, and willing to learn, you’ll discover that every person has a unique perspective and that every conversation is a chance for deeper connections. Stay curious and be intentional with your conversations, and you never know what kind of great connection you’ll unlock!

Learn More on the Podcast

To hear more great lessons on endurance and leadership with Steven Pivnik, listen to his Mindfulness Manufacturing episode here.