Thursday, June 30, 2005


I lead the lane today for most of swim practice. I started off leading (you know, "BE GONE, complacency," "carpe diem," no more "good enough"...), four of us in the lane, and part way into the first set, I said to the woman behind me, "Do you want to lead?" I heard myself say it. And then I regretted it and cursed the fact that it came out of my mouth. I wasn't being overtaken, I wasn't slowing down the lane, in fact, I was setting a pretty good pace and making it challenging for myself and my lanemates. So why the dish off?

I'll tell you that moment, I realized that it's become a habit for me to take the easy way out, to do only 80% of the work...after all, how many people are home in bed sleeping while I'm swimming back and forth a hundred or so times? Isn't it enough that I'm here at all? WHa?? Yes, that might've been enough a few years ago...when any work at all produced gains and speed. But now it's NOT enough...I've said it before, and I'll say it again: nothing good comes from only 80% effort. 100% is my aim. And as soon as I could, I grabbed back the lead of the lane and finished a pretty damn challenging practice. It felt good to break the habit.

Leadership has come pretty easily to me in life. In fact, it came so easily early on that I got burned out on it...I didn't want to be the one to make the decisions any more, to be the one who carried the responsibility on my shoulders...I used to revel in being the one that folks looked to. But then I realized that it's a lot of WORK (notice a pattern here?) and there's no time to slack off because you're the role model, the one people are counting on. So I think I went the other way and tried to shrug off all leadership responsibilities - and now, as evidenced by this morning's dish off, it's become habit.

There must be a middle ground between Slackersville and InCharge Town. Mia's managed it...she's a leader by design, an icon, a role model...but she's never been the US Team's captain or spokeswoman. She does it all by example. She shoulders a lot of the responsibilty for the team and the success of US Women's Soccer but she takes herself out of the limelight and quietly goes about breaking every record there is to break, working harder than just about anyone out there, and inspiring her team (and SO MANY of the rest of us) to be better, to do the work, to excel. Perhaps this is the middle ground I need to shoot for....focus on myself, work hard and lead by example. And I only really need to answer to myself anyway, right?

Mia would ask, "Is it in you?"

Yep. Yep, it is.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

That Razor Sharp Edge

Let's talk about complacency. I think it's evil... not just bad evil, it's the insidious kind of evil that creeps up on you when you least expect it, squirming it's way into what you're doing, how you're thinking, and what you're feeling. Complacency is the antithesis of carpe dulls the clarity, the sharpness you feel when you're totally on top of things. Complacent is not what I want to be right now.

Things at work this week are pretty slow and it makes me sloppy. I have about 2 or 3 things that I kind of need to get done today and it's 4:15 and neither of them are done because they can really wait until tomorrow. Chances are, when I get around to doing them, I'll have missed a detail or inadvertantly changed a quantity or forgotten to record a shipping address. Give me a hundred details and make me juggle 25 different jobs at once and i'm ON FIRE...I have that edge and I can keep all the balls in the air for as long as I choose...bring on the multi-tasking. But leave me with a few little items to manage, and I drop the ball like a big geek on a football field. It's just too easy to check out.

But I don't want to check out, especially when it comes to life outside of work. I realized today that my work complacency has spilled over to my tri world and that has to stop right NOW. I want to be PRESENT, to find that edge and hone it to perfection. Here's a confession: my swim coach is away coaching swim camp so our masters practices have been coachless now for almost two weeks...which is fine. The usual crowd shows up anyway, coach leaves practices for us to do and we do them. Now, I have a race in a week and a half so you'd think I'd be ready to kick some a## and work hard, but today I had a few folks in my lane who just finished a half ironman so they were understandably taking it easy. Somehow, Mind takes this to mean that Body can also take it easy. WTF?? LET'S GO!!!

And of course, just like with work, the swimming was kind of sloppy. How is it that Body thinks it has license to slack when Mind knows slacking isn't going to get me what I want. It's like there's a disconnect, no awareness of cause and effect...remember in geometry, "If A, then it follows that B...?" I could just as easily have decided that I was going to lead the lane, push myself through an hour of focused swimming and come away stronger and sharper but I chose to hang in the middle of the lane and cruise. Cruising isn't going to make me faster and it's not going to sharpen that edge. I'm resolving here and now that complacency will NOT be part of tomorrow's ride or Thursday's swim. I've said it so now it's truth. BE GONE complacency...

The Most Difficult Thing

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. [Your] fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward."

Amelia Earhart said that...and it pretty much sums it up for me and my world right now. It's all about the decision to act, taking the bull by the horns, sh%# or get off the pot... Yup, it's time. Enough getting by, enough of it being "good enough," enough's time to be great. No more regrets.

I've been "doing triathlon" for 4 years now and I've made big gains in strength, endurance, power and speed since beginning in the late summer of 2001. But the goal then and the goal now was, and still is, to be ready to do a half ironman by the summer that I turn 35. That's in 2007. Felt a lot further away 4 years ago - kind of a murky, hazy possibility, a goal that I might or might not reach, that I was only willing to divulge to a few close friends who I knew would not judge me if I decided it was too lofty. It's not too lofty. I know now that I can do it and I'm going to do it and it's time to get serious. It's time to lose the weight, gain the endurance and speed, and get ready. Because I don't want to set a goal and then bag it just because it's hard. Enough of that. No more regrets.

My bike's name is Amelia, named after the great woman pilot. She attained goals that were previously thought unattainable. And she didn't back down. And I won't either. It's time.