This is a guest post by Akash Vaghela from RNT Fitness. Akash is the brains behind my incredible body transformation and through that journey has become a friend, confidant and someone I am constantly inspired by.
If you don’t follow him already, do so now (his details are at the bottom of this post). You will learn so much – not just about fitness but, as the title of this post suggests, how you can use physical fitness as a vehicle to grow your business.
I’ve learnt more about business from my physical endeavours than just about anything. I’ve read the books, listened to the podcasts, been to the seminars, but nothing has given as many real-life business lessons as pushing myself to the physical extreme.
Richard Branson, the maverick leader of the Virgin Group once said, “I seriously doubt I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness.” He famously starts every day with a form of hard training, whether it be weight training, tennis, surfing or swimming, and is known for his annual physical adventures, feats and challenges.
Why though? Why is it so important for entrepreneurs to be physically fit in order to grow their businesses?
The answers lie in two parts.
The first is the direct benefits and outcomes that derive from training. The second is the lessons it teaches you that puts you in a direct business setting, every single day. The combination of the two is why if you’re not already prioritising your training, you should make that your number one strategic business move for the next 12 months. It will force a step-change in your business that you didn’t think was possible.
Taking Care of the Number One Asset
The biggest bottleneck in most businesses is the entrepreneur. Not because they may still be doing technical delivery, menial admin, or have a lack of systems in place, but because they aren’t protecting their number one asset of the business: themselves.
The entrepreneur is the leader, the visionary and the driving force of the business. The team thrives on the entrepreneurial spirit they bring, and this spirit is what drives momentum, growth and the positive change the company seeks to make.
But without a healthy and fit entrepreneur, the spirit can diminish and everything grinds to a halt. Most entrepreneurs love to push the limit of what they can achieve. If you tell them no, they’ll take it on just to prove you wrong. Everything is 100mph. That’s great, but it won’t last.
Let’s think of your body as a race car, and you’re the driver. Would your car perform well if you just raced it around the track at full speed all the time? Of course not. I’ve learnt this the hard way through various moments of burnout. On reflection, in each of these moments, it’s been when I’ve let my health and fitness slip lower in my priority list. It sounds counterintuitive, but prioritising training, nutrition, sleep, hydration and general activity is what drives high performance, energy and quality output.
That’s the fuel to your Ferrari.
Putting yourself first can be difficult for many entrepreneurs. We’re so hard-wired to build businesses that deliver value to others that stopping to add fuel to the tank feels selfish, unproductive and a waste of time. Yet, how can we take care of our team, clients and suppliers if we don’t care of ourselves first? It’s time to take back the reins and protect the number one asset to your business.
‘But I’m Too Busy?’
Entrepreneurs are stubborn. We’ll hear this and think it’s something for later. We’ll drag it on our calendars because we think we’re ‘too busy’. The problem is, if we’re too busy for ourselves now, our bodies will force us to take the time out later on. You have to put yourself first because tricking your body is futile.
To make the time, it boils down to planning and managing your priorities. Making time for the important pillars in your life (like self-care) forces you to become an essentialist with your diary. Blocking out time for training means you’ll now have to:
- Be more strategic with what you say yes and no to
- Eliminate, delegate and/or automate systems and/or processes
- Be more focused in the remaining time blocks you have available
When you develop non-negotiables physical practices and rituals such as strength training 3 to 4 days a week, walking 10-15,000 steps a day, eating quality nutrition, sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night and the extra toilet breaks needed for the 3 litres of water you’re now drinking (!), you quickly realise how much bloat you need to remove from your day.
Injecting healthy fuel into your business means you need to cultivate a level of self-awareness to understand your priorities and what’s really going to move the needle forward. By default, you’ll work less but earn more. You’ll stop burning the midnight oil because you know the importance of recharging through sleep. You’ll hire team members, automate manual tasks and systemise your business so you have time to look after yourself.
What’s interesting is that when you start prioritising self-care, all of a sudden, everything else becomes easier. You think clearer, have more energy, are more productive, and you’re able to do the hard stuff you previously didn’t have the time to do. You create more structure in your day, instil more discipline and paradoxically, create the freedom you craved in the first place from starting your own business. It runs in circles, and you begin to realise the power of the physical as the vehicle for your business growth.
Hard Business Lessons In Hard Training
Pushing yourself physically is the ultimate playbook for business, and the lessons run in complete parallel. I’ve lost count of how many entrepreneurs I know who have doubled their businesses after taking themselves to the extreme physically. It builds a level of self-confidence, mental resilience and ruthless consistency that becomes the driving force for the business.
Every time I take my own body to the next level, my business grows as a result. The harder the challenge, the greater the growth.
When you go through the process of transforming your body, undertaking a physical challenge or setting new personal records in strength, you have to learn to trust the process. It’s impossible to get a six-pack in six days. Or to run a good marathon time with no preparation. Or to add 20 kilos to your bench press with minimal training. You have to be committed to the long-term goal and then consistent on a day to day basis with the boxes you need to tick.
It’s the same in business. You can’t go from zero to a million overnight. It takes doing the same few things repeatedly without falling for the temptation of grabbing the new and latest shiny object. Ruthless consistency. The process of physical transformation teaches the concept delayed gratification like no other because there will be times you won’t be seeing any results for your efforts. It teaches you to lean in, believe in yourself, trust the process and to understand that if you continue to tick the right boxes to the best of your ability, you will thrive. Business is the same.
My physical challenge of choice is bodybuilding. In my numerous hard preps to take myself to the absolute extreme, I’ve always come out the other side with new insights, ideas and introspection. I learn the power of progressive overload (getting a little better each time) and build more resilience to overcome challenges outside of my comfort zone. Your choice of suffering may be different; it could be a Spartan challenge, a marathon, a sporting tournament, etc. The specific vehicle is irrelevant. What’s key is it’s outside of your comfort zone. When you learn to take yourself there every single day and apply progressive overload each time you venture into the unknown, you cultivate unshakable confidence and belief.
There have been countless times on a bodybuilding prep where I’d be so exhausted, fed up and tired of the process that I’d want to quit. But each time I opted to lean in was a victory. Each time I decided to tick the box to a higher level was another win. Another step closer to the goal. Business is identical. It’s a rollercoaster. You can be celebrating a win one minute, and thinking the world is going to end the next. Embracing the dips, highs and lows of business is something only taking yourself to the extreme physically can gear you up for.
The Physical Is The Vehicle
I can’t imagine life without having health and fitness as a high priority. What’s interesting is it’s not even about the aesthetics. That’s why I don’t stay bodybuilding lean year-round. What it gives me is the discipline to gain the freedom I want everywhere else. It gives me structure across the day and enables me to live by strong habits that magnify and 10x everything in my life. It allows me to handle anything thrown at me. When I know I can overcome the hardest physical challenges, I know I can do anything. The physical is the vehicle. It’s my teacher, anchor, and outlet. It gives me an opportunity every day to ground myself, relieve stress, learn new things about myself and become a better person. When you master your body, you develop the confidence to master anything, especially your business.
Building a business is a long game. As an entrepreneur, you have to be at your best for it. Prioritising your physical health is the first step in this journey. Don’t wait for the clearing or when you have more time, because that won’t ever arrive. Instead, pick a challenge, go all in, and watch how your business begins to take a shape you never imagined.
Akash Vaghela is the Founder of RNT Fitness, where his mission is to see a world where everyone experiences the power of a physical body transformation to act as a vehicle for the greater good in their lives. He’s the author of Transform Your Body Transform Your Life and host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, which has amassed over 150,000 downloads in 90+ countries across 120+ episodes. Alongside this, he’s been seen in Men’s Health, BBC, T-Nation, Elite FTS and the PTDC, while also regularly speaking nationally and internationally on all things transformation.