Confidence and Clarity

Yesterday, Endurance Corner published my article on athletic confidence. This piece is a continuation from that opener.

One of my favorite things about adult sport, is applying its lessons into my non-athletic life. In doing that, there are a couple of traps that we need to watch.

Equating (athletic) performance to self-worth – business, and sport, show a clear link between daily choices and future results. This is a great lesson! However, if we are prone to obsession then we can become attached to our results and confuse results with self-worth. To keep myself balanced, success around the house is measured in “I Love You”s. Kids keep-it-real!

If some is good then more is better – there are diminishing returns to the time that we invest in athletics, and business. Now that I have three kids in my house, I have no idea how people can train for Ironman events (or start companies) with young children in their family. To perform at a high level outside of the house requires me to let my parenting and marriage slide.

There is no quicker way to erode self-worth than fail to meet your obligations to the people you live alongside (and the man or woman in the mirror).

Back to my friend’s observation that opened my Endurance Corner piece:

One thing about your writing is that you seem sure of yourself in the moment. Do you ever feel uncertain in your pursuit of excellence and sense of control?

I’ll answer first but are you seeking my answer?

I changed my life to become world-class with the amount of time I give my family. While I could give more to them, I am comfortable that I’m giving enough to them. I’m living in a house where I’m constantly reminded that I’m doing a good job. This required radical change – I moved, I shrank my work life, I reduced my athletic expections, I constrained my personal expenditure. Totally worth it and I’m the only example in our peer group.

But my answer may not be what lies behind the question.

Let’s invert the question and approach from the opposite direction. What creates uncertainty, a lack of excellence and a feeling of being out of control? Let’s call this situation “stress.”

If you have multiple interests then going “too far” towards any direction, will create stress. So consider if you’ve gone too far. If you go too far then create systems to prevent yourself from repeating your mistakes. Publishing is my most effective system.

But, you say that you enjoy going too far! I do as well. So schedule your year so you have a few weeks where you get to go too far. The rest of the time keep yourself in balance. You may gain a new perspective on the “too far” aspects of your life when daily living comes into balance!

Consider if you might be hooked on stress. Being out of balance feels exciting, but is it really? Have a look around and talk with the people that are closest to you. Many people, myself included, take pride in their idiosyncrasies – take pride in achieving positive change. 

Have an honest look at the level of drug use in your life – including sugar and insulin overdose via overeating. If you’re triggering disordered eating and needing a stack of drugs to get through your week then something needs to change. Overeating and coffee are my drugs of choice – when those crank up, I know I’m out of whack.

If you’re seeking control and confidence then trim away stress sources, gradually. I’ve been peeling away at connectivity, low margin commitments and my compulsion to train. I’ve changed my approach to email and focused on efficiency gains in my work life. I create space before I create change.

Confidence comes from meeting commitments to the people closest to me and avoiding the trap of giving myself too much of what I need.