For the past two weeks I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with some of the closest people in my life in Europe, and accomplish the greatest feat of my life to date: an Ironman
Notably, I was able to live out Sprious’ four main core values:
- #connect: with my brother and dad, Max (our VP of Engineering), a client of ours, and my good friend Sebastian
- #freedom: 2 weeks off without having to worry about work – wow, I love Sprious for this! Thank you all for the support!
- #empowered: I felt the love and support from family, friends, and all my amazing colleagues.
- #growth: and I grew… in ways I never could have expected…
I’d like to share the story behind that #growth… a growth that we can all tap into. A freedom that is everlasting.
The growth I experienced started before my Ironman race when I had a session with our company’s performance coach, Phil Towle. In this session I explained to him all the fears I had coming into the race:
- What if I have a flat tire?
- What if I freak out on my swim and have to get out (like I did on my first triathlon – ouch)?
- What if I have to take a during my 1 hour 20min swim? (Yeah, that’s a real concern on an anxious race day…)
- What if my calf injury I had two weeks prior flares up again and I can’t do my marathon portion?
- and ultimately: what if I fail? A failure that would represent 100s of hours of wasted training. A failure that would put into question my identity (‘an Ironman’).
All of these fears were justified, and they metaphorically represented the fears we have in our everyday lives: “what if my manager is upset that I failed my OKR?”, “what if this social media post I make gets no likes – does it mean I am unliked?”, “what if I am not being a good parent?”, “what if the world goes into a deep recession?”, “what if… what if… what if…”. Sincerely, every one of these is real and true… but what if we were to look at them as an opportunity?
As I learned, perhaps, the obstacle is the way. I knew this logically from my Stoicism readings, but in this session with Phil it became ever more apparent: if any of those fears were realized during my race, they would be real. They would be reality. There is no arguing with them – they’ve already happened. At this moment a mantra shined brightly in my head:
“Everything is right” – right where it should be. It’s not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it is just right [where it should be] (not to be confused with “right or wrong”, which is neutral as well).
Coming into race day, I was quickly given the fortune of one of my first fears: as I left the swim area and got to my bike, it already had a flat tire – ha! But, with this mantra channeled, I could only look at it and say ‘hm, ok, this is reality, so it must be right!’. I got it quickly changed and off I went to the 180 km course thereafter…
Consider for a moment something in your life that you perceive as unfortunate – can you find another way to look at it? Can you find the opportunity? Can you make it ‘fun’ to conquer it? Perhaps smile at it? 🙂
‘Everything is right’ was the mantra I used for the duration of the race, and it definitely got me through the toughest parts, but it seemingly ended when I crossed the finish line.
I crossed the finish line and felt… nothing. No excitement. No elation. It felt like “just another day”. I blamed it on the fatigue from the day… the absence of all the physiological chemicals that my body depleted.
Then I woke up the next day… and still felt nothing. “What, Neil?! You just accomplished the single greatest accomplishment of your life to date… and you feel nothing?!”… sadness ensued. Why could I not celebrate such an achievement? “What’s wrong with me?”.
I’ve learned from Phil that this negative voice, the one that says “you are not good enough”, “you suck”, “you’ll never be good enough”, “you can do more than this”, is one that we all have in our own unique way (and each one of us has this voice for different reasons). I won’t dive into the history of where mine comes from, but rather acknowledge that it does exist… and I was given the greatest gift possible in realizing this when I completed the Ironman.
Here is what I learned:
My lack of emotion now proves to me that no matter the future accomplishment I achieve (i.e. – an Ironman… or something even grander!), it will “never be enough”. I will always be unfulfilled. Sounds morbid, right?
It’s not, though! Instead, this shines a bright light on the greater truth, which is:
If it is perilous to always be striving for ‘more more more’, then the more logically reasonable truth is: ‘Everything is right [as it should be] – in the present moment, not in some future event/accomplishment/moment.’ Happiness is found in the present.
Re-read that once more… it’s a bit of a tongue twister, written in the algebraic way that my brain works 🙂
This is true freedom. The realization that “enough is enough”, “more is not more (or less is not less!)”, and that everything is as it should be.
Does this mean I won’t do another Ironman? Maybe an ultramarathon? Does it mean I shouldn’t strive to push Sprious to new and exciting limits? Does it mean I should just wander off into the wilderness and rid myself of all material items?
Of course not… instead, it is quite the opposite: maybe I will do every one of those. Or maybe I will do none of them. What’s important is that each moment is a gift to be appreciative of.
To live in the present, to be, is right. 🙂