Two weeks ago, I had a terrible but wonderful learning experience. Here's what happened:
I was registered for my first Sprint Triathlon in Long Boat Key, Florida. I was thoroughly confident with the running and cycling portions. However, I was concerned about the swim even for a short distance like 400 meters. Nevertheless, I felt ready. I had been training in a pool two days a week and even did an occasional swim in the ocean to replicate an open water experience. Prior to race day, I took the extra step of checking out the lagoon where I was to be doing the swim.
On race day, I felt nervous but ready. The water looked calm. The brightly colored buoys made the whole thing seem festive and fun. As we entered the lagoon, I sunk into the muck. I was OK with that. What I wasn't prepared for was the blackness of the water. I was used to the clear pool with its blue lines I followed. I wasn't prepared for the sun blinding me as it bounced off the water. What I was most unprepared for was the 200 other individuals trying to go where I wanted to go! The flurry of kicking feet, bobbing heads and moving hands seemed to be coming at me in all directions. It wasn't long before I was I was frozen in a panic.
I tried to make it to the first buoy with a combination of a side-stroke and a weak doggy paddle but something in me was locked up. Fear. Withdrawal. I'll never know but as I saw the line of swimmers moving fast and forward I knew I was going nowhere. I wasn't in a complete panic and knew enough to wave over the volunteer with a board who got me to shore. I was done and I was crushed.
Once I got myself together, my wife helped me come to some important realizations. (Don't tell her but I really do appreciate the calm logic she brings to a situation). What I learned from this experience applies to any major endeavor we undertake whether it’s launching a venture, doing our best at work or home - and of course if you love tackling endurance events. Here are my takeaways from my epic fail:
“You can get good at something just by working hard at it. If you’ve got some talent and you work hard at it, you can get really good at it. But excellence, peak performance, being the best you can be at something – that doesn’t happen without coaching.”
I’m thrilled to have started work with coach Angie Ferguson and her group called Geared Up (http://www.gearedup.biz/ if you’re interested) and it’s exciting to see results already! Whether you want to be a better professional, parent, friend, spouse, or athlete there’s a coach out there for you. They range from free to accredited professionals. Trust me -- it will make a huge difference so get on board.
Looking forward to sharing the lessons of a very difference triathlon experience soon….
This weekend was a special one for me. Like many other parents, I had the privilege of seeing my daughter graduate from college. Beyond feeling incredibly proud, being at a graduation ceremony was an inspiring experience for me. Since my daughter is a pretty private person, I’m going to respect that and leave out details on her. Suffice to say, I couldn't be prouder of what she's accomplished and I know she's got exciting things ahead.
I can share that she graduated with some people that had some pretty unique majors in fields that didn't exactly scream “here's a job for you." Clearly, they read the books that said follow your passion and don't worry about the money. But I truly, truly admire these students particularly as someone who has followed a rather nontraditional path in my own career. (At one point, I truly believed I would be playing guitar or bass as my professional career).
As an interesting bookend to the weekend, on Saturday, I received an email from a local nonprofit asking me to participate in Career Day. They wanted me to speak to some fourth graders about my career and share an inspiring message. That's challenging! Think about it: How often do we say to each other that we need to make our mission messaging so concise that a fourth grader could understand it? Now I'm being asked to talk about my life story - or at least my professional one.
Well, none of you are probably fourth graders but for the fun of it, I thought I'd share my message. Since I'm doing this tomorrow, if you have any feedback, I'd love it!
Robert is an Executive and Business Development Coach. You can read him here or on www.younonprofitnow.com