Category Archives: Greatness

Sometimes, you just have to suck at something

Tonight, while sweating up a storm, a spark: Sometimes you have to really just suck at something before you can start to get with it.

In the last five years, my life has changed at least as many times.  I set goals and succeeded at a lot of things.  But I fell flat on my face a few times too.  I’ve been injured and sick at times, and I used that as an excuse to stay on the couch.  I let each of my failures dictate how I’d spend the next few months.

For me, that meant wallowing in a sort of self pity.  I felt sorry for myself all the time.  I couldn’t even walk down the street without being reminded of just how much I screwed up on the one thing I believed so much in.

A spark: Maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.  After all:

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

-Winston Churchill

and

Life is full of setbacks, success is determined by how you handle setbacks.

-A Shopping Bag

Do I need to fail more?  I’ve learned more from my failures over the last few years than I’d ever learned by succeeding at anything.  (Remind me, and maybe one day I’ll get more into that, and how a major setback at work led to a major epiphany…)

So I remember, thinking to myself when I moved to Kits, that there would be “no more excuses”.  Screw that.  Excuses are something that you make for something you don’t want to do.  The real joy is in surrounding yourself with the people that you want to be around, and kicking ass at the things that make your life — and their lives better.

So, this is now.  And that’s really it.  Is it the excitement of something new?  Or is it the spark of nostalgia?  Or does it matter?  It’s a spark.  And it’s my job to share sparks with you.

Moving forward…

Part Two: What do you want?

Goal setting is a journey.  Let’s start this journey with the end in mind.  And I’m talking about the end.  The when they’re writing your obituary end.  Bleak?  Maybe.  But if you could look back on your life from that perspective, what do you see?  What do you want?

For me, I look back, and I see a life lived in good health.  I sort of envision a kind of younger-looking version of Jack LaLanne.  Maybe someone like Sister Madonna Buder.  I see someone who didn’t need a walker or a mobility scooter, right up until the end.  (However, if I ever do need a mobility scooter, I call dibs on this one.)

What does it take to make it happen?  I’m a firm believer in goal-setting.  When I’ve done it, it works.  If you’ve never set goals before, a quick run-down on some of the criteria that make a goal a good one.  I like the “SMART” acronym, personally.

  • Specific.  Target a very specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable.  How will you know that you were successful/how successful were you?
  • Attainable (or Achievable).  Can it actually be done?
  • Relevant.  Does it really matter to you?
  • Time-bound.

Trouble with “SMART” is that it means different things, depending on who you ask.  For instance, some corporations use “A = Aligned with Corporate Goals”, which completely deludes both the company and the employee.  More often than not, corporations are only interested in year-over-year goal-setting.  But goals are really about making you great in the long-term, which in turn makes everything you do touched by greatness.  In other words, if you take care of your personal life, your health and your career, everybody wins.

Let’s stick with “Attainable”, and focus on those three areas of life.  We start with the end in mind, and work out the steps it’ll take to get there.  Think long-term.  That’s 10 years from now.  What will you have achieved by then?  Let’s try a fictitious goal as an example:

By January 2024, I have established a successful business, supplying widgets to the entire West Coast region.

And there it is.  It’s got a deadline, and it’s pretty specific about how and what will be measured on that deadline.  What’s more, it’s written in past tense, which is really just a trick to make you believe it.  Moving on… backward:

By January 2019, I am Regional Sales Manager, Western Division for XYZ Mega Corp.

Cool.  You’re going to need industry contacts.  Your boss won’t be pleased that you’re thinking about spinning off that sales division into your own company, though.  Best keep that under wraps for now.  But wait — maybe, just maybe, they’ll even help — if you can show that the National Corporate Headquarters can benefit by lopping off the Western Division.

By January 2015, I’ve successfully completed a Continuing Education course about writing a successful business proposal.

That’s only a year off, so now is the time to act on it.  This month, there are steps that you can take to attain that goal.  You might not be able to start your company tomorrow, but you can certainly pick up the phone and enrol in a course that will help you get there.

Rinse, lather and repeat.

By September 2023, I have completed five iron-distance triathlons.

or

By April 2019, I have 2.5 children and a house with a picket fence.

The sky is the limit.  Now try it in your own notebook.  And feel free to add some of your goal ideas in the comments section.  In Part Three (of what is becoming a poorly-planned three-part series in four [or more] parts), we’ll discuss some strategies for taking your goals from your notebook into reality.

All the best,

Darryl

Part One: Discovering the high-performance athlete inside

Triathlon is a unique sport in that professionals and amateurs often compete on the same course and on the same day, if not side-by-side. For many of us, it’s a lifestyle sport. Unlike many other amateur sports, even the shortest sprint distance triathlon demands a significant outlay of time and effort, not to mention the hemorrhaging of cash credit card debt.  It’s very easy to let the sport take over your entire life. And really, what better obsession? When the sport does take over your entire life, you put up pictures of Paula Findlay or Crowie on your cubicle walls. You derive a sick pleasure in watching people cringe when you tell them you spent more than $500 $5000 on a bicycle, and that you have at least two or three of them.

You probably do this for a reason. If you didn’t at least enjoy it, there wouldn’t really be a point at all, no? This is what discovering your inner elite is all about. Whether you are racing competitively against others, or whether you are racing for your own heart.

I do it because it is a challenge, to see whether I am capable of finishing things that ordinary people would call extraordinary. But it’s really not about that. There’s nothing special about the things that we do, except for the fact that we choose to do them.

So if there’s nothing extraordinary about the things that we do, or for that matter, the things that the elite do, then shouldn’t it mean that there’s no difference between the elite, and you?  There is no difference between any of us.

Through racing a few years ago, I learned that I am good enough to justify the time and expense of the triathlon lifestyle. An injury set me back a bit, but 2014 affords a new opportunity to start again.

There is nothing more rewarding in my life when I finally see that spark in someone’s eyes, when they finally get it.

So, make it real. Here are some ideas:

  • Get a personalized license plate for your car. Something like “TRI4PR” or “CARBON”.
  • Create an “Athlete” page on Facebook, so that you can have actual fans!
  • Get someone to take pictures of you and your bike (like you might see in Triathlete magazine).

I think the first point of order here is to really begin to accept myself as a high-performance athlete. That’s not to say that I’m pro-level or elite, but as a high-performance athlete, there is a slightly different bar that applies to me, my workouts, my day job, and my personal life.  But being a high-performance athlete means eliminating all those excuses, and making it real.  Not because I have to, but because there’s no better feeling than doing something that everyone else thought was impossible.

All the best to you, in 2014,

Darryl