If you thought the title meant this article was about going out to find your spirit animal, you’re partially right.

I think my spirit animal is a red fox, only because they seem to follow me around every time I’m on the trail. But alas, this is not that kind of article.

No, the vision I think you are ready for is the one that helps you figure out where YOU see yourself in the future.

Not necessarily your family, friends, or livelihood self — although this could impact that — but your race promoter self. The self you see when you think about creating events.

My Mother would say that a proper vision quest would produce a similar result, but you won’t need to do any sweating in a lodge to understand the kind of vision I want you to create.

Spirit quests, revivals, and walkabouts all have their place, but all I want you to do today is think up a simple vision that you can use to guide you towards building something great.

We’ll rethink your whole life another day.

So let’s get started!

What’s All This Vision Talk?

The kind of vision I want you to build is called a “strategic vision”.

Strategic vision? That sounds hard!

No worries! This kind of vision is used to help you build your first race, or maybe even your first race promotion company.

It begins with an understanding of what a strategic vision is, and what it is used for.

The simplest definition is that a strategic vision is a specific view of the future used to inform and guide your goals and objectives in the present.

It is how and where you see yourself — and your race — when it is completed.

It is also the connection you have to your event that will allow you to visualize what kind of experience you want someone to have when they encounter it.

Be it a physical, emotional, or spiritual one, your challenge is to understand that connection and build a race that will achieve that experience.

But how do you go from visualizing the experience you want your racers to have, to actually creating a strategic vision to guide you?

Great question! The creation of your strategic vision comes in three steps that are captured perfectly in this neat little sports psychology saying:

If you can see it, and you can believe it, you can achieve it.

You’ve probably heard this saying before, or seen it written on a gym wall, or even had someone recite it at you while you were doing 600 flutter kicks.

Regardless, we’re going to use it as the framework for building your vision.

Step 1 — See It

Time to meditate. Take a minute to consider why you are doing this. Put on some mellow music, or go to your happy place, close your eyes, and think about what success will look like one year from now.

Ok, we’re back to talking about spirit animals and sweat lodges again, right?

Maybe. Taking a long look inside your own desire for why you want to create events, will help you begin to conceptualize the path you will need to take to get there.

If you see any talking animals while your eyes are closed, you could see what they have to say. But do remember that animals don’t really talk, so take anything they do have to say with a grain of salt.

Ok, back to our mediation.

Why are you doing this? Why do you want to put on a race in the first place? Why do you want to build a race promotion company?

Is it fame? Power? Stacks of money?

What is driving you down the race promotion path?

Need some help putting it in words?

When I close my eyes (and talk to my red fox), I see my vision as a desire to make a difference in people’s lives.

You may have that same vision, and it’s not a bad vision to have.

To be an effective race promoter, you have to (at some level) want to make an impact on people, and not just manage the mechanics of a race.

Race promotion is a “people first” business. If you don’t like people, you might want to think about getting out now.

But if you’re like me, and want to see your events have a physical, emotional, or maybe even a spiritual impact on people’s lives, you need to see yourself in that people-first role.

Are you eyes still closed? Good.

Try to visualize yourself out exploring trails all day, getting exercise while you work, marking race courses, and dreaming up new and amazing places to explore.

Do you see yourself do those things? Perfect.

Now try to imagine the people that will come and visit you in that place.

What are they doing? What kind of experience are they having? What are they saying to you? Are they having fun?

Do you see them giving you smiling faces, high-fiving you as they finish, or telling you “thank you” before they head home?

If you can visualize those things, you one step closer to building something that can achieve those reactions.

Take a few moments to work on this step. Explore what you want people to experience when they come to your race.

Once you have an idea of what that is, write it down.

Examples of this might be:

“I want to challenge mountain bike riders to see how many laps they can do in 12-hours.”

“I want to create a course that takes racers up and over a mountain.”

“I want to have a festival that takes up the whole weekend with both casual activities and stage races.”

“I want to be the host to the best of the best in a championship event I create.”

“I want to establish an annual picnic where folks from all around come and explore the trails as a group.”

All of these are valid, but they have nothing to do with YOUR vision. Your vision is just that, YOURS!

It is something only you can have. It is personal to you, and no one else can take it away from you.

But you have to conceptualize it, then write it down.

Because if you don’t give your vision form, it will be difficult to share it with those willing to help you realize it.

Step 2 — Believe It

Now let’s put some structure around your vision.

Look back to what you wrote down. For the sake of this step, we’ll use the “challenging mountain bike riders to see how many laps they can do in 12-hours” example.

This seems like a big event.

Having riders do laps for 12-hours means you need to have staff on-hand before and after this event, you’re probably going to get finished in the dark, and will have an assortment of people going to and from tents, cars, and restrooms all day long.

That is a large undertaking if you have never built a race like this before.

But that’s not the point of your vision. Your vision is to see the 12-hour event as your end goal to your efforts.

What do I mean by that?

The event in your vision is what you need to build up to, not create your first time out.

Using the 12-hour race example as your end goal, you need to break it down into believable events that will lead up to your final goal.

A 12-hour race is a lot to handle. But a 6-hour, 3-hour, or even a 1-hour race is not as big. By working backward from your vision, you can start to see how you could progress to your vision’s goal over time.

Just like when most people start working out for that race they want to finish. They don’t just sign up for something huge — like a marathon — for their first race.

They start with something small — like a 5k — and work towards the big race.

You need to follow the same pattern. The key to believing you can achieve your vision is to work towards it incrementally.

Let’s look back at our 12-hour race example:

The 12-hour race our very ambitious goal that we want to achieve in a year. So we start with maybe one small, 2-hour race at a local park.

We then graduate to a 4-hour event at a bigger park but break down the event into two, 2-hour races. Beginners and Juniors go first, with faster racers going second. Or maybe we have one style of race first (like a time trial), then another style second (like a cross-country race).

In our third race, we try our hand at half of our goal, by building mini-version of our big 12-hour race, by putting on a 6-hour endurance race. This will give us a taste of what our goal will feel like, but with only half the challenge.

Our fourth race should probably be a second running of the 6-hour endurance format, or a 6-hour version of the 4-hour event, only with a larger course. This should give us another chance to experience the mini-version of our 12-hour goal, and help us learn how to deal with challenges when the big day comes.

Then in our fifth race, we finally deliver our 12-hour endurance event. We’ve worked out our fears in the first few races, learned how to deal with this kind of race in our mini-versions, and can now execute our vision with some level of confidence.

That is how you break down your vision into believable chunks — it’s called a roadmap.

Now think about your vision. Working backward, what are the steps or milestones within your own roadmap?

What do you think are necessary events that need to happen before you can complete your vision?

Where do you see it all beginning? What does that first race look like?

Can you see it? Then write it down!

Your roadmap should have the same kind of incremental milestones as the example above.

Although you didn’t have any conversations with red foxes during this step, it is important to have a conversation with yourself about when you want to see your vision come true.

I put down one year for our 12-hour race example. However, that might not be a realistic amount of time unless you’ve already put a few races under your belt.

Your vision may take multiple years to achieve, and that’s ok too.

A vision that spans 3-5 years is normal in the business world. The key to believing in your vision — no matter how long you want to take to achieve it — is to give your plan enough time to make success possible.

Don’t declare that your vision is to be the host of a championship event, and then give yourself 3-months to achieve it.

A vision that is not believable will most likely cause you to fail.

So instead of making it hard on yourself, work backward from your vision’s goal to where you think it should begin.

Give yourself enough time to complete each realistic milestone you set for yourself, and layout a believable plan that you think that you can achieve.

Step 3 — Achieve It

With your vision and roadmap before you, you now have the formula for creating the specific goals that will make it all achievable.

Each of the milestones you have on your road map leads up to the achievement of your vision. But it all starts with the first stone.

What is that milestone? What is your first race on your roadmap?

Funny word, roadmap. It means exactly as it sounds. It is your guide along a road that will lead you to achieve your vision.

So where does it lead you first?

Start there!

You’ve already come up with a vision. You already know where you think you want to go, what you want to do, and how you want to do it.

You’ve also created the map to how you will get to where you want to go, what major events you need to create to get there, and roughly when those events need to happen.

With all that information at your fingertips, the best place to start is at the beginning.

Build your first race.

Make it real.

Bring it into this world so that others can enjoy it.

Now go build something great!

Posted by Kyle Bondo

Kyle started Reckoneer with the simple mission of helping those who want to become race directors and learn the mechanics of outdoor recreation engineering. Kyle demystifies outdoor racing with over 20 years of endurance and outdoor industry business knowledge. Combined with his top-rated podcast Merchants of Dirt, dozens of articles, lessons, and infographics, Kyle has made Reckoneer the premier educator in outdoor event management. Build better races today!