If you haven’t seen the Nike+ iPhone running app, you have to check it out. It’s a little app to track your jogs and inspire you to run a little further or a little harder. Since millions of people have downloaded it, I know I’m a bit late to the table, but if you’re into technology, it’s worth your attention – runner or not.
The Nike+ app is the perfect confluence of social networking, geo-spacial tracking, and multi-media experience, overlaid with corny game theory. It tracks you in real-time with the geo sensor, allows you to share your run in real-time with your Facebook friends, and plays you your favorite songs. All while a pleasant sounding women sporadically announces your progress without a hint of sarcasm.
Some software is so beautiful, so intuitive, and such a perfect blend of complex technology that it almost takes your breath away… but not quite as much as the actual running. But in any case, I can’t help but think, Is this really good for me? Do I really need this? If this donkey and carrot trick, this little virtual whip and reward works on me, what does that say for my character? Do I need that digitized gold metal? Do I need that anonymous gruff voice saying that I’ve beaten my own record?
in a very different realm of performance, the Olympic athlete Usain Bolt apparently runs races at about 27 MPH. He’s like a car. Or a Coyote. He needs to shave milliseconds off of his time and tweak every aspect of his performance and style. He needs to watch himself in slow motion and critique the positioning of every muscle and emotion. He needs an entire team watching him and digging into every aspect of his form. But do we?
Do we need analysis of our own tiny results? Do we need to inspect and dissect the smallest levels of performance to ensure stronger results in the future? Do I really have to know that I ran a thirteen minute mile in order to run a twelve minute mile the next time?
The answer, at least for me, is maybe. The interesting thing about being human is that we can trick ourselves on purpose. We can give ourselves fake rewards and make them work. If we think we’re eating full calorie foods, we feel full. If we think we’re eating diet foods, we feel hungry. The past matters to the future and our perception becomes our reality.
I can tell you that I’m about a hundred times more confident in the success of our business than in my adherence to my new (albeit generously cautious) running schedule. I do know, however, that my instinct to measure and track, to analyze and dissect is the same in business as in running. But I’m not sure there is time for this kind of thinking in a small business. I’m not sure that we can step back and track results before we are done with the race – and in business, the race doesn’t end.
So where does that leave us? We need to celebrate small victories and progress. Although on the Nike+ app I thought it too much to ask for cheers from my Facebook friends, in real life, we need them more than anything. If you’re running a business or just working hard every day at something, make sure you are actually working and running and not measuring and examining the past. The truth is, we don’t need it.