I hit the trails at Mt Macedon this morning for a training run. About 50 min into the run I came across a fellow runner (Troy). We spent the next hour running together and swapping stories and plans for the coming 12 months. This hour included the ascent of Mt Towrong.
Whilst chatting, Troy declared that for 2014 he had set himself the goal of running an ultra-marathon…every month! Whilst this feat is almost certainly beyond my body at the present, it did explain why Troy was heading out for a 40km trail run (versus my sub-25km).
It also reminded me that I have not formalised my goals for the new year AND I am running out of days. So best I start by determining that in 2014 I will attempt my first ultra-marathon.
I was recently given a tour through the re-developed premises of a Melbourne business. Located on King Street, the building is an inspiring mix of open plan workspaces, timber walled privacy pods, street art, beanbags! and whiteboards!! with exposed brick walls and steel girders to boot.
Hanging on a wall was a copy of the Holstee Manifesto:
I made sure that I had a copy of this up on my wall before the book closed on 2013.
Those wanting to learn more about the Holstee Manifesto can find it here:
I had a meeting this morning with a former colleague. We hadn’t spoken for a few months, so there was plenty of ‘life’ to catch up on. During the course of the discussion I had cause to reflect on those people in my life that challenge me to be better than I am. They can be found professionally, or amongst family and friends, but in their own way they each support and inspire me on a never-ending quest for growth.
They can do this by:
encouraging fresh ideas and attempts to tackle new challenges
being a positive role model with their values and actions
sharing stories and writings that help identify the best parts of yourself, or that help define who you want to be
Conversely, there are those people and situations that always seem to bring out the worst in us. Without always being conscious of it, I realise that over the past two years I have sought to maximise time spent with the former whilst minimising the latter.
Do you have a vision for the best (or a better) version of yourself?
What does that person look like?
How can you help others to strive for their aspirational selves?
These questions bring to mind one of my favourite aspirational quotes, from Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. It seems appropriate for this challenge.
How to do this?
A good start is to surround yourself with the people you identify as having the capacity to help you be the best possible you (and vice versa). In writing this I am reminded of a colleague who is fond of saying:
“It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys!” (If you’re reading this, you know who you are.)
Nevertheless, I encourage you to make a start. But you must accept that the task will never end.
“Accidents and inspiration lead you to your destination.” (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, our lives are shaped by a series of accidents. These can be as simple and commonplace as a chance introduction by a friend or a random encounter with a stranger. All such happy accidents create opportunities to develop new relationships and explore new things, if we are shrewd enough to recognise the potential that they hold. (Of course, some accidents are downright nasty, but we will set them aside to ponder another time.)
I have personally experienced several instances where a series of related accidents over a period of months / years has culminated in a moment of inspiration that has then catapulted me down a path that I had not previously considered. The song lyric cited above to introduce this post has proven an apt description for the process that I experienced.
A case in point is the journey that ultimately led to my decision to take up rowing. A chronology of otherwise unrelated encounters included:
Age 18 – Being treated by a chiropractor who had been a school boy rower; he was the first person to suggest that I might be suited to the sport. A seed was planted.
Age 20 – Enrolled to study psychology at Monash University, my desire to avoid dissecting rats in the experimental lab at the Clayton campus meant that, instead, I attended Applied Psychology lectures held at the Caulfield campus. There I met a mature age student (in his 60’s) who happened to be a member of the Hawthorn Rowing Club. He tried to recruit me to the club without success. At the time I was committed to playing four games of basketball per week.
Age 24 – Whilst doing bench press during a gym session I ruptured my right pectoralis major tendon (torn clean off the shoulder; made a thoroughly delightful sound). The surgeon who reattached the muscle for me suggested that I incorporate more exercises that would strengthen the rear of the shoulder; e.g. rowing.
Age 25 – Within 18 months of the original surgery I required an arthroscope to repair a torn labrum in the same shoulder (basketball injury). Rowing was again suggested as an activity that would be of benefit.
Plenty of accidents there for sure. Next stop, inspiration!
A cathartic moment at an AFL game (Richmond v North Melbourne…Tigers lost …bummer) had me resolve to throw myself at a completely new sport, from scratch. Later that year I had my first row. It happened to be at Hawthorn Rowing Club, in a tub pair named after the club member that I’d met at Monash University years earlier (he had since passed away).
So many positive things flowed as a consequence of that journey into rowing. From meeting my partner of (almost) 13 years, to standing on the podium at National Championships with my mates, racing at Henley Royal Regatta in the UK and forging too many great friendships to count here.
All because of accidents and inspiration.
Think about where you find yourself today. What combination of accidents and inspiration has transported you there?
Links to “The Long Way Home”, by Mary Chapin Carpenter: