A bit of a cross post this one between my public and private domains but I think it translates well. In my private life, I’m training for (another) Ironman and that takes some commitment and a fair amount of mental fortitude. For those who don’t know, an Ironman triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim (usually sea or lake), followed by 112 miles on the bike, then a quick 26 mile marathon to finish, all in under 17 hours.
I completed Ironman Weymouth last year but whilst I should have been happy with the simple act of finishing with substandard preparation the truth was I wasn’t happy with my time. The fact is I knew, deep down, I could have done better. Mentally I crumbled half way round the bike and was looking for excuses to stop. Long story short, having seen my family, specifically my son as I started the marathon, there was no way I was going to let him down. Father, role model, pride, call it what you will, it got me round but in my heart I knew I could have pushed harder on the bike and taken less breaks on the run.
Just a little faster..
So how does that impact daily life? Yesterday I had the joy of a 2 hour treadmill session, mind-numbing plodding whilst staring at the wall. It becomes meditative and it helps build mental strength and resilience (is what I told myself). I had a pace and a goal…then 90 minutes in someone got on the treadmill next to me. Irrespective of knowing sprinting would achieve nothing I increased the speed for the last 30 minutes because a remnant of competitive instinct took over. I wanted to go faster the treadmill next to me. I hit the two hours and I’m paying for it today.
I assume everyone is like me, a desire to do better every day, not to spend a life of what-ifs and that translates to working life. Why would you spend the day doing the same thing over when you can do it better, faster, more efficiently? I believe there is a seed in the human psyche that drives us all to improve upon yesterday. The issue is that some of us have been so overwhelmed at work and on social platforms (yes I see the irony) that we kid ourselves we’re progressing and we make excuses for coming up short.
Too many people are institutionalized in positions at work, feeling a false sense of security. Do me a favour, take a risk, push your teams, nobody got fired for trying and no team ever succeeded with a ‘maybe tomorrow’ approach.
If you want to know what a first time Ironman feels like – my experience