Real Men Do Cry

The last time I broke down in public I was trying to articulate what it was like to totally commit to winning Ironman Canada and not achieve my goal. Looking back, it was a highly effective explanation, but difficult to explain in words!

Collectively, we share an aversion to pain and protect ourselves by limiting commitment and managing expectations. This provides an opportunity to succeed through uncommon commitment – the flipside of which is temporary pain if we fall short.

I’ve been working on a writing project that shares what I’ve learned so far about wealth, longevity, real estate, personal finance, marriage and kids. As part of that process, I’ve been reviewing a dozen years of blogging and came across an article from December 2004.

The article references my Top Ten List from March 2000.  

  1. Touch someone with my writing
  2. Clean out my computer room (had to have one easy one!)
  3. Relax more
  4. Sub-10 at an IM
  5. Buy a house to have a base
  6. Be published in a major magazine or in a forum where a wide audience can read me
  7. Get rid of a lot of stuff in my life
  8. More love in my life
  9. Write entertaining pieces that make people laugh
  10. A new career that would give me time to do what I want as well as travel

Over a decade ago, I wrote an outline of a life that I wanted to create for myself.  I was 31 years old, working at a desk job and wishing I was somewhere other than Hong Kong. When I read that article, I smile because my pals in Boulder would recognize the guy that I describe but I had NO idea who was within me.

In fact, 11 years on, I managed to go further than my wildest dreams.  That knowledge cheered me up last week, when I was nursing a rib injury and wondering what the heck I was going to do with the rest of my 40s.

So I think it’s time to put myself out there again and write my Top Ten List as at November 2011.

  1. Be able to walk to world class long course masters, ideally at Stanford University
  2. See my wife vibrant within our marriage
  3. Have my kids tell people their Dad loves them
  4. Publish my second book
  5. Complete a new high mountain cycing route each year
  6. Stay fit enough so I continue to get a mini speedo given to me on my birthday
  7. Start my fourth career
  8. Maintain freedom of location and occupation
  9. Quarterly retreats in nature
  10. Touch 1 million people with my writing

It will be fun to look back when I’m in my 50s and see how I did.

This week a friend joked that when you spend your entire life acting like a dog chasing a car, it can be tough to figure out what to do when you finally bite the bumper…

…I guess you write another list and enjoy the ride.

Filtering Towards Clarity

In September, I decided that I was going to dial down technology.  I’ve made progress and the changes have created space within my week. 

I’ve used the additional space to read and write.  Purchasing a Kindle made books easily available and I’m reading one title per per week, up from one per annum. While I haven’t been active on this blog, I’m three chapters into my next book and have been writing weekly for the Endurance Corner site.  

My increased productivity was achieved by deleting apps, turning my phone off more often and simplifying my daily structure to:

  • Wake up by 7am;
  • Write two pages of my book;
  • Do some exercise;
  • Meet my work commitments;
  • Spend time with Moncia, Lex and Ax.

Interestingly, this change didn’t happen until I was injured and decided to compensate by becoming more productive in my work life. Throughout my athletic career, my work has been an essential back-up plan to cope with unplanned setbacks.

One of the books that I read was Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs. My take from the book was the singular focus of Job’s life: Make Great Products.

Similarly, when I speak with champion athletes, I find that they filter their lives:

  • Get to the Olympics;
  • Win A Medal;
  • Win World Champs;
  • Be An Ironman Champion.  

Whatever their goal might be, life passes through a simple filter of what they are seeking to achieve. People that get to the top of their field create habits that let them say no to attractive opportunities.

To get stuff done, create your filter and get to work repeating a simple routine that moves you towards your goals.

After months of talking about it, I made a few small changes and will get my book drafted by the end of the year. It wasn’t the clutter in my life that was holding me back – it was habit as well as a focus on other attractive opportunites.

What do you want to achieve and what’s it going to take to get there?

Keep it simple, and persist.