The Finish Line Predicament

Greetings Northern Nevada!

Another weekend has flown by and we are getting ready to enter March. Oh March, that tease of a month where it pretends to be spring and then dumps four feet of snow in your backyard only to warm up to 70 before plummeting back down into the teens. One thing is for certain, however – XTERRA is in 27 days and I’ve spent approximately five hours on my mountain bike this year. Ugh. It might just be a warm up race where I have to shake it off and go for it.

I recently had the opportunity to watch a lecture by the fantastic Simon Sinek (I highly recommend watching this thing. It’s incredible!) https://creativemornings.com/talks/simon-sinek-251/2. I especially love the content beginning around 11:30, but the entire 30 minutes is absolutely worth your undivided attention.

“An [activity] you find joy from is not something you discover… You are in love [with your activity] because you work very hard every single day of your life to stay in love [with said activity]…Life, career fulfillment, relationships are journeys… Do you have the patience to go on the journey?”

I won’t steal his thunder, but he did hit on some points that really resonated with me. His video is truly a must-watch!

  1. Appreciate and endure the journey You do not “win” at the game of life. Life itself is both the journey and the destination. You do not arrive at a point of success, you leverage your experiences, good and bad, into accomplishments. If you are looking for some magical moment when suddenly you are totally fulfilled, you will be disappointed because it simply does not exist. You have to have the courage to begin the trek up the mountain, and then the range of mountains behind that one, and a whole continent of mountains beyond that. There are no shortcuts or checkered flags waiting for you – only new experiences that you turn into adventures. This is your journey – own it.
  2. Have empathy – In a world where everyone is trying to get ahead, accomplishing their own tasks and quenching their own desires, it suits us all very well to take a step back and practice empathizing with those around us. We should be thrilled and excited to help others with their goals, bringing them along and ensuring their success, rather than striving to make sure our desires are met no matter the cost.
  3. Finite vs. infinite games – We live in a society where collecting the most toys counts as winning, the size of the SUV you drive determines how great a person you are, and your accomplishments and other laurels are your red carpet to fame and fortune. Unfortunately, this is as far from the truth as possible. Life is not Monopoly. You don’t get to bankroll your successes at the end. Instead, we are involved in a never ending, infinite game where the winners are the ones who continue to play, continue to strive, continue to new and great accomplishments, and are not limited by the zero sum ideals of the highest earnings per share, marketplace dominance, or extinguishing your competitors. The civilization that doesn’t help its citizens along is no civilization at all.

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I have done some pretty cool races in my life. IRONMAN, races along Tahoe’s majestic mountains, and some great open water swims. In a recent conversation with someone, we were both amazed at how quickly the journey of training for and completing these races quickly turns into a “hurry up and get across the finish line” instead of riding the ebbs and flows of life whilst getting to race day. Four years later, I am still convinced that my first IRONMAN will forever be my favorite and greatest race. All of the experiences were new, the epic road trip, all of the training hours, the ups and downs of the race itself – each of these elements weighed into and formed that long 11 hour day into what it was – incredible. But it wasn’t June 23rd that made that event so special, it was the year and a half of preparation before that, all of the other triathlons I had done, and the hardships and great accomplishments that I dealt  with leading up to it that were actually the success.

My journey led me to that day, and the race itself was just the icing. 90% of the things I learned about myself were discovered in the many months and early AM hours leading up that race, not in the day itself. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the thrill of the finish line without all the hard work and sweat and sacrifices of the journey, but wouldn’t have lasted through 140 miles without the training journey either. Don’t wish away your journeys too quickly… the journey is what life is made of.

In a society that encourages and ravenously pursues instant gratification, we need to be the ones pushing for delayed gratification. Set your goals, establish a plan, and work hard towards it! Big goals take WORK. You will not be handed a finish line on a silver platter. You’re going to have to earn it through dedication and perseverance to press on even when the going gets tough… and trust me, it will always get tough. There are no freebies.

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