Practice the Art of Adherence

shutterstock_200354111Let’s talk about Indian thorny bamboo. You may never have heard of this plant species native to Asia. Like many types of bamboo, this kind, when planted, requires the right amount of watering, sunlight, and care. It takes up to two full years of careful attention for the bamboo to build a strong root structure, which is not visible aboveground. However, once a sprout finally breaks through the earth, Indian thorny bamboo can grow up to 100 feet per month!


As I near my 100-mile mountain bike race set for August 9, I’ve been reflecting on the life lessons learned during my training. I suspect these lessons can be applied across the board to our businesses, careers, athletic endeavors—and to our lives in general. To be honest, the last few weeks have been difficult as I’ve struggled to balance family, work, and my training program. Working 60 hours a week plus travel requirements, meeting family commitments, and training upward of 20 hours per week is taxing. However, I’m in the home stretch, and I know it will all be worth it.


So what do Indian thorny bamboo and mountain bike racing have to do with each other?

In business and in life, the game is usually won by those who can consistently execute a well-thought-out strategy.

In other words, winners stick with it.

Winning requires adherence. Adherence is the critical link between strategy/vision (knowing) and results (doing), and adherence can be defined as “a commitment to consistent execution over time.”

Although your plans may change, adherence to your plan, whatever that plan may be, is your key to success. John Maxwell states it perfectly: “Failed plans should not be interpreted as a failed vision. Visions don’t change, they are only refined. Plans rarely stay the same, and are scrapped or adjusted as needed. Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan.”

The principle of adherence to your vision holds true for growing bamboo and for mountain bike racing—and for a whole lot of other things too. We must practice the art of adherence.


Three things will determine how well I do in the Leadville 100 on August 9: my preparation, my focus, and my discipline throughout my training. I like to call this approach the PFD. You can apply the PFD strategy to your own challenges: prepping to launch a new business, pushing hard to the end of the year to make President’s Club, going back to school to obtain a degree, or training for an athletic event.

Here’s how to work the PFD and give it your all:

Preparation. This is your plan, your blueprint. It’s how you’ll get from here to there. This is when you get help from coaches, managers, and mentors to set the course ahead. Being flexible with a plan does not mean winging it; it means taking a serious look at where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.

Your plan doesn’t have to be a formal five-page document. It can be as simple as a checklist or an outline. Here at ConMed, our sales force refers to this plan as the “Standard/Model Day.” Sales reps who have committed to this plan have seen the results firsthand—perhaps not at first, but, like the bamboo, daily adherence eventually yields tremendous results!

Focus. This is your filter. A sense of focus keeps your attention directed on executing the daily plan. If you find yourself distracted by something, ask yourself whether or not the distraction is moving you toward your goal. If it is not, put it aside and get back to your plan.

Kinda-sorta working your plan will get you kinda-sorta results. Hold yourself to a higher standard, asking what you need to do to execute your strategy today.

Discipline. This is your power. The power of discipline is what makes your goal, your plan, come alive. Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most. Discipline is hard, hard, hard, but it is necessary. It keeps you working the steps of your plan and is fueled by your desire to reach your goal.

Remember, pain is temporary, but memories are forever! Success doesn’t come from wanting or wishing; it comes from doing—over and over and over again. How badly do you want it?

I would like to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Zig Ziglar. Remember this as you go into your next professional or personal challenge: “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”

Whether it’s mountain biking, growing bamboo, or any other adventure in life, practice the art of adherence every day. I’ll see you at the finish line!

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