Forging A New Path: Trail Running, Business, and Buses

dirt path with green-leaf trees on both sides
By: Louis Bookoff

This was originally published by Louis Bookoff on Linkedin on April 30th, 2020. Click the link to see the original post.

I’ve recently fallen in love with running, more specifically trail running. The challenge, the obstacles, the serenity, and the quiet chaos of the nature that surrounds the trail. I’ve fallen in love with all of it. The cuts and scrapes, the painful hills, the sore waddle after pushing myself that extra mile that I didn’t think I could run. 

Through finding this new love, I’ve also learned a lot about myself and gained a deeper perspective around building and running a business. My hope is that some of these learnings can be beneficial to anyone involved in a business, whether you started a tech company, run a bus company, work for a company, or are thinking about pursuing an entrepreneurial path. I hope this can inspire those feeling stuck. those feeling scared, and those feeling isolated during this challenging time.

So here are the learnings:

Find a balance between looking at what’s right in front of you and looking towards the path that lay ahead. 

With trail running finding this balance is crucial. Why? Well if you don’t find it, you will run into the various obstacles that come up, whether it be a root that is jutting out of the ground, a puddle of mud, a fallen tree trunk, you name it. Finding this balance is also crucial in running a business and your career. Especially during difficult times like this pandemic, it’s natural to feel like you can only look down at your feet and we expect each day to be another obstacle. But the thing is, if we don’t look up at the path ahead we might not be able to see new opportunities, new ways to drive efficiency, new ways to become more effective in your role. We might miss adapting to the new tastes of our customers. If you only look ahead or if you only look down, you’re pretty much guaranteed to fall, so do your best to strike a balance.

Take the path less traveled.

one dirt path splitting into two

Trail running on a dry, sunny day is a lot different than trail running after a rainstorm. But there is something beautiful about the rain. It possesses this calm refreshing quality and that same quality is felt when on the trail after a storm. The trail path after a storm is typically different then what it would be on a sunny day. New obstacles, mud, you name it. What running on a trail after a storm taught me is that it’s okay to take the path less traveled. You see, the main path becomes harder and harder to get through because everyone is stepping on and pressing down the mud. But with any trail or journey, there’s always another path. And just because it isn’t the one you ran yesterday and you don’t know what might lay ahead, that doesn’t mean that this new path will be less meaningful. This lesson strikes a deep chord with me. When my cofounders and I started Busie it was terrifying. We didn’t know what to expect, especially as recent college graduates who had just started their professional careers. But every step on this new path has been truly incredible and our passion for what we do has deepened. The path less traveled doesn’t always have to be a massive leap. It could be trying something new at your company that no one else has attempted. It could be shifting your strategy to compete in this post-Coronavirus world. What I’ve found through taking the path less traveled while trail running and in life, is that even when I slip and fall on that new path, I learn, I grow, and become stronger from it. 

Don’t be afraid to fall, but always bounce back up

This is where I slipped and planted face first in the mud :)

The thought of writing this came earlier this week when I slipped in a giant mud patch on the trail. I wasn’t anticipating slipping and got covered in mud. But I hopped right back up and laughed it off. With trail running, you go in knowing there will come a point where you didn’t anticipate that branch or that muddy patch and you will ultimately fall. The same is true in life and in business. You can never anticipate everything and you will slip or fall at some point, whether it’s on a small project or the particular career path you are currently on. But don’t let that deter you from running down a new path. Don’t let fear guide you. If you have an idea test it out. If there’s something new you’ve been meaning to try, try it! We all fall at some point and we each make the decision of whether or not to bounce back up. 

Use your guides, but don’t blindly follow

a metal and wood bridge crossing over a small river

The trails are always marked by some type of visual marker, whether it’s painted on a tree or wooden posts. For the most part, the markers are a good thing to follow because you definitely want to try to avoid getting lost. But at times, if you blindly follow your trail guides you might miss out on something beautiful. The same is true with life and in business. There will always be people giving advice, successful individuals telling you how they did it, articles advising you on one path. Don’t forget these are just guides and they aren’t always the right path for you. Sometimes it’s hard to separate out the noise and that comes at the risk of not seeing or creating some beautiful. See, on the trail, there’s this bridge over a stream and the obvious path is to go across the bridge. If I had blindly followed my markers I would have missed the stillness of the being next to the water. The minute where I just paused to reflect, which set the tone for the rest of my day. The beauty of nature. So remember to pause for a second before you follow your guides. Take a moment to see if there is a better way, whether it’s a project you’re working on, a relationship, or a new hobby. It’s your run, so set your own path. 

 Together we are stronger

Don’t get me wrong, the serenity of running down a trail by yourself is amazing. However, nothing beats doing it with others. Cutting through obstacles together, encouraging one another, and discovering and forging new paths even when everyone before you has taken the same path. Trailing running with other people lets you guide each other, build trust with one another, and you get to share in the fun and excitement. In business, we are also stronger together. Collaborating, providing feedback, leveraging your teammate’s strengths in the areas you might be weaker. Building trust with your vendors, your customers, and your communities. Despite how it may feel, know you are never alone. We are all on this crazy journey we call life together. For bus operators, other travel services, and other industries deeply affected by COVID-19. We are in this together and we are here to lend a hand. It takes a team effort to move America. Together we are stronger and together we will never stop moving.

To speak more directly to my bus family – The trail this industry has been running on just got hit by a devastating rainstorm. But despite numerous puddles, branches, and lots of slipping and falling, there is a path forward. That path will be challenging and that path will require pushing what we believe to be our limits. Our goal should not be to rebuild our old path, but rather to forge a new one. If there’s one certainty, it is that this new path will require us to be side by side moving forward, together. 

I’m both scared and excited to venture on this new path and can’t wait to hit the ground running with you!

Louis Bookoff

Co-founder & CEO @ Busie