Ambition aspires to descend. Letting go of goals

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When we’re talking about performance, letting go of goals seems like the exact opposite thing we should be doing to excel. But what if letting go of the goal enabled the attainment of objectives beyond the original scope?

Ambition aspires to descend” – Pierre Corneille
Freediving Club Greece: Letting go of Goals by Maarq

Location: Descending into the big blue deep, Anavyssos, Greece

Letting Go of Goals?
Repeatedly I am taught that the mind is a powerful tool and not to be underestimated. No matter the setting, letting go of goals has provided the mechanism to go even further. To clarify, letting go of goals is not about detaching from them or dropping responsibility for performance into some other bucket, it’s about prioritising awareness of what we’re doing in the present to step towards the goal rather than focusing on the future state (the goal).

Mask and Snorkel, Freediving Club Greece: Letting go of Goals by Maarq
Location: Alexander Beach, Anavyssos, Greece

Aspiring to Descend
To illustrate the success of such an approach, I’m going to present a sport or rather discipline that to most will go against natural tendencies. Over many summers I’ve enjoyed entering various marine sanctuaries with a snorkel and mask, freely diving beneath the surface to three or four metres depth. Soon the desire to go even deeper and hold my breath for longer was a goal I was unable to shake. On the couch I could reach two minutes and come out of it in a sweating panic and swimming underwater for 30 seconds felt like an eternity.

Freediving is a simple concept in theory but there are many factors working against achieving the aim of competent breathhold diving. There’s the physiological aspects of holding your breath and the repercussions if you hold for too long, the skills in diving deeply efficiently and with proper equalisation, being settled and calm in the marine environment and the obscure notion that one merely takes a breath and goes under without air tanks.

For a full insight into the perils of freediving, here’s a documentary on the dangers…just 40 seconds in and you’ll get enough of an impression to understand the risks.

Learning to Let Go with Mindfulness
For my immersion into this murky subject (bad pun, I know), Stavros Kastrinakis, Greek Freediving National Record holder (151m, no limits) and Owner of Freediving Club Greece would be my instructor. In the months leading up to the intensive AIDA2 Freediving course with Stavros, I’d commenced practicing mindfulness techniques with Neuralign as a way of practicing and honing the ability to remain aware and focused no matter the environmental or physiological state (see previous blog entry here “Mindfulness: Hocus Pocus or Renewed Focus“).

As an eager student my goal was to become proficient at breathhold and freediving to go deeper for longer. It wasn’t long before I discovered my desire to reach the goal would start getting in the way of advancement.

After a day of rigorous instruction in theory and practice in the swimming pool, the first open water dive was upon me. In actuality the dive would take me towards a small boat on the sea floor 13 metres down. I had fixed in mind that target, I thought “I must reach the boat”. It was after all far deeper than I’d been before. And with that fixation on the goal, the boat continued to elude me on each successive dive. Stress ran through my veins, discomfort engulfed me and each time I couldn’t reach that boat I became more and more anxious to get there. It was a tense day in the water.


Video: Freediving 13m depth attempt, Anavyssos, Greece

On reflection that evening, armed with video footage, it was obvious that an improved state of mind would benefit me greatly. I let go of the boat and any further depth goals for the rest of the training course. It was a defining change.
Freediving Club Greece: Letting go of Goals by Maarq
Location: That Boat! Anavyssos, Greece

Finding New Depth and Performance
During the course Stavros delivered a range of instruction, theoretical, practical, pool-based and in open-water. On the second day under Stavros’ guidance, with a new approach and mindset, I was able to achieve a static breathhold of almost four minutes, that’s twice the duration compared to my previous best on the couch and it was underwater. Letting go of goals put me in the right place.

Out in the open water that second day, it became easier to defer to the process, to rely on the small steps of improvement, to be in the present moment and enjoy each and every dive for what it provided. Some went well, others poorly, but with each a growth step was achieved.

By the fourth and final day, having let the spirit of the experience wash over me and let go of the ambition that first brought me to Greece, aka The Big Blue, to learn how to go deeper into myself and the ocean than ever before, I’d found the most beautiful of sports that I could never have imagined. Later I would learn that I’d reached depths of 26 metres, about 20 metres more than on the first day.


Video: Freediving 24m depth, Anavyssos, Greece

Letting Go of Different Goals
That freediving course taught a lesson that has not gone away. Letting go of goals has aided me in even the most menial of tasks, such as packing an entire home and moving all the contents elsewhere within five consecutive days, without stress and all done piece-by-piece. Or for an exciting wheel-based challenge, it’s not different to the state that lifts you up the Col du Tourmalet, one of cycling’s toughest hors category climbs, 19km and over 2000m in altitude. Pedal stroke by pedal stroke the peak gets closer. In business and in projects, the approach is the same, beginning with the objective in mind at the start and enabling the flow to take you to the project peak.

Mindfulness in the Mainstream
From my observations, mindfulness practice appears to be really gathering pace and volume in the on and off-line community, it’s certainly becoming more and more accessible to those curious enough to enquire. For a bite-sized ingestible chunk of ten guiding principles for cultivating mind and body balance, you may refer to Dr Natalie Masson’s useful summary here.

Ed Halliwell describes mindfulness practice:

“It nurtures a process of unfolding, of allowing things to settle, so that that well-being might emerge from coming into flow with how things are, even when that isn’t how we’d like them to be.”

And that is just what it is!

Having an experienced, skilful and patient guide such as Stavros truly made this a long-lasting education and one that really continues to serve each day.

Freediving Club Greece: Letting go of Goals by Maarq
Location: Alexander Beach, Anavyssos, Greece


Enjoy the flow and peak performance of letting go of goals.

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Navi-what? Navigarminating. Find your ride.

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Traveling light with my bicycle, Sci-con styleDo you have a certain penchant for travel? I do, especially with my devoted companion, my bicycle. When traveling however, it’s not always easy to find that local training ride or get to the top of that secret single-track, or in fact meet a knowledgeable local to ride with. Here is possibly a fast-track to resolving that problem, well before someone floats ‘BikeBook’ on the stock exchange that is…

JC, Double-barrelled training partnerMy training pal, JC, put me onto this wonderful and simple technology solution. Keen to discover new trails and potential new courses, he led the way in my tutelage. The tools required in this scenario are: a GPS device (mine’s a Garmin), computer with internet access, a Strava account and a willingness to search on-line. I’ve labeled this wonderful solution “navigarminating”.

Here I’ll give you the how, the directions aren’t bathed in precision, but the method is the key. And it gets better than merely finding a course to cycle, you might just find that local expert to ride with too…

The broad guidance given here assumes you’ve connected your GPS device to your PC, have fired up a browser, are connected to the internet and over time you’ve acquired some familiarity with sites like GaminConnect or Strava.

GUIDANCE
1. At the PC
– Using your preferred GPS database (Strava ‘Activity Search’ chosen here) search for and select the route you like and want to download.
– In this search the parameters are: Port Vendres; MTB riding; 30-60kms distance; 3-4hrs duration, and; more than 1000m of altitude gain.

20121031 Strava Search Clip

The first item in the list above looks promising, so that ride is selected and now appears below.
20121031 Strava Ride Clip_1
20121031 Strava Ride Clip_2
It can be seen from the ride detail that there’s a few climbs, the rider achieved a few KOM’s (so he must go alright one would think). He didn’t pause much (“Elapsed Time” less “Time”) and the route goes in the area I wish to target. So, I decide to choose this ride as my one to follow…

2. On the Web – Using an interface such as Cosmo Catalano’s Strava Ride Exporter, copy the ride URL / web address and have the site prepare the file for download to your PC and GPS device.
20121031 Cosmo Ride Clip_1

3. PC to Device – Download the file and transfer it to your Device (simple instructions here via mapmytracks and alternate instructions via ridewithgps here for Edge800 device)
20121031 Cosmo Ride Clip_2

4. Device Ready – Fire up your device, load the route and get ready to ride
Edge 800 Go!Edge 800 Ready to Ride

5. Navigate to the start, or just get to part of the route that is closest to you
Edge 800 Navigate to start?

6. Follow the route merrily
Ready to navigate! Or navigarminate perhaps?
Navigating the route, blue line is my trace, purple line the one to follow.

Optional Steps
a.
Type a comment on the ride to the owner and potentially query them on the ride specifics, or
b. Simply thank them for uploading their ride because you now are better informed, or
c. Ask them if they’d be interested in going for a ride. Be polite, not a stalker.

A pretty pause south of Tour Madeloc
Location: A pause after climbing the Vermeille, France

Personally I like the Strava-Cosmo-Garmin interface, it’s relatively simple and particularly with Strava I’ve found the people I’ve contacted very helpful and willing. It’s also global. What’s more with Strava’s metrics, you’re able to get a fair idea about the difficulty of the ride based on the suffer scores etc and before you decide to ask someone to go cycling, you can get a fair idea about how fit they are given their kms/hours per week and amount of KOM/Segments etc. Useful tools!

Towards Banyuls-sur-Mer
Looking towards Banyuls-sur-Mer, France

Now, it’s true there are a multitude of sites out there available offering Bunch-ride finder services, Cycling-Buddies, GPS traces and other GPS Exploring facilities but I’ve not found one to date that really delivers on what I’ve been looking for across continents. This UK site has great technology and interface qualities, I really like it, but it is limited in its geography. Many cycling social-sites based on the Ning platform have also come close but having a centralised resource aids in quicker identification of the desired route. Garmin offers a new social service similar to Strava but personally after many attempts I just can’t bring myself to be a fan of their search function. One more I haven’t yet tried is this, but it looks okay.

Up to Tour Madeloc
Location: Up to Tour Madeloc, France

Chilly in the autumn afternoon in the south of France
A chilly autumn afternoon in southern France. Never mind the 120kph wind either…


Pleasant rocky singel-track abutting vineyards
Location: Descending loose and very rocky single-track abutting beautiful vineyards, Port Vendres, France

To taper off, the final benefit of all this navigarminating business… With the ride example above, I had intended to take the full tour, however after three punctures, fading light and declining zest I was able to re-route back to the start for a hastened short-cut back to base. It doesn’t show on the route data, but the last 3kms were ridden on a flat tyre and it involved a straight heading for vertical descent hike-a-bike style through two vineyards, a leap across a creek and a whip past the mangey dog.

The moon rises over Port Vendres and singletrack disappears
Re-route time as daylight quickly gives way to the moon’s approach.

All thanks to navigarminating. Thanks JC!

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Balancing the scoop

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Photo credit: D Sharon PruittToday’s technological society keeps us hyped up on status updates, likes, tweets, tips, tricks, and positive re-enforcement techniques. Really though, all that represents is sprinkles on the cone of an ice-cream.

Sprinkles add a bit of flavour and interest to the real substance below and the supporting structure of the cone beneath. The question is, would you enjoy a cup of sprinkles as much?

Or would a palmful of melting ice-cream dripping through your fingers sate your ice-cream dream?

Likely not, but grasping that cone, turning it in your palm, keeping the scoop from becoming unbalanced, it’s a small ritualised process that keeps us returning to the Ice-creamery time and again for the enjoyment.

Life is like that too (no, not a box of chocolates). You may get a ‘hit’ from life’s version of sprinkles, maybe it’s tweets and likes or even this morning’s latest 7-tips to a better you, 5-tips to reduce your waste line or 9-tips for career success and so on. Lot’s of colour and excitement. Underneath those small sound bites and tidbits hides the real enjoyment of crafting a program, swirling it around to see how it fits, plotting a course and grasping the supporting structures required.

Once that’s achieved then comes the process of keeping on course, turning your thinking, adjusting behaviour, keeping your scoop balanced and catching the drips. The enjoyment develops through working at it and seeing the whole of it in front of you.

Just as quickly as the sprinkles run out and you’re biting into the still cool and textured ice-cream scoop, the sprinkles are no longer a care nor is the fact they’re gone, it’s the substance of the middle, the heart of it. It’s what you were dreaming about when you bought the ice-cream that now drives you. You’re focused fast on keeping the drips from escaping.

Now in the centre of the cone, thoughts of how the moment can be savoured take over, how to make the buzz last.

Similarly the thoughts echo when the realisation that your program for new behaviour change or learning new knowledge is starting to stick. The realisation that a shift has occurred is enough to let you know that you’re actually closer to the end than the beginning. Closer to completing your course.

It’s not that the enjoyment is coming to an end, but that it’s now possible to look forward to the next treat, the next project, the next experience. Perhaps even a different flavour.

Whatever it is, 5-steps, 7-tips or 9-ways may draw you in, but it’s the deeper purpose and experience that will hold the long-lasting meaning. Had enough of sprinkles?

*Photo credit: Ice Cream Cone – D Sharon Pruitt.


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Dreaming of being a Pro Cyclist, but better at driving the pens than the peloton?

Here’s your chance to feel like a professional cyclist.

There’s few chances in life where you can actually put your feet into the shoes of another profession, discipline or role and really live it as an expert in that field does. Unless you’re an Actor perhaps.

Welcome to the Tour of Friendship cycling race in Thailand.

Tour of Friendship Logo

In 2011 I was lucky enough to join the Confero Mavericks cycling team (formerly know as ANZA Mavericks) and compete in the Tour of Friendship five-day cycling race. It’s on again this year, starting on 28th April.

I say “feel like a professional cyclist” because this event gives you an incredibly close experience to being a Pro. Not that I’m a Pro, but I can almost bet, you’ll be riding with Pros in the race.

From being met on arrival at Bangkok airport by a race official who whisks you away to your transport and hotel (and collects and manages your bike baggage for you), to screaming spectators along the road, to police-escorted bus trips, you’ll be living that computer-screen induced dream of peloton exhilaration.

It’s not easy though. Like a Pro, you’ll suffer, you’ll see crashes, submit to white-line fever, struggle to stuff down enough gels and then finish the race thinking that was the best thing you’ve ever done.

Confero Mavericks Tour of Friendship R1 Thailand 2011

Did I mention the daily massages? Your legs will never feel better, recover better or serve you better through a race. But that’s part of being Pro isn’t it? What about the team dynamics? This is a hard-fought race. There’s drama, disputes, protests and jostling for position and that’s just to look at the results as they’re pasted up on the board.

Confero Mavericks Tour of Friendship R1 Thailand 2011

Excited yet?

If you’re a fit, well-trained cycling executive, this is the experience for you. This is revered as Asia’s best amateur cycling race. Around 300 competitors enter across Open and Age categories, men and women. It attracts not only local Pro riders but some of the cream of the crop expat business executives who are some of the most driven and dedicated cyclists I think I’ve seen. Keen to build some new relationships? Well that’s what the Tour of Friendship R1 is all about. Linking in with like-minded people, building ties with another culture, another country, connecting.

Confero Mavericks Tour of Friendship R1 Thailand 2011

Fear not, this race is hard, but beautiful. Average speeds of 40kph, plenty of spirited attacks, hard mountains to climb and no mercy. You want to be Pro? Lap it up, it’s once in a lifetime. You might even see an elephant cross the road in front of you. And enjoy an ice-cream at the end of a hard time-trial. Not your average race, this one.

Confero Mavericks Tour of Friendship R1 Thailand 2011

What I’d really like to see though is this. A men’s or women’s team from Australia enter.

Maybe you’re a local shop based team, or a corporate team, or a bunch of cycling executives that have a strong zest for cycling and have gone to the trouble of creating your own kit, culture and maybe even a website. You need at least six riders to make it really work, to really get that sense of teamwork, suffering for your mates, suffering for the win, suffering because that’s just what you’re about. Two domestiques, two climbers, one GC (general classification) and one team leader. Maybe a DS (Directeur Sportif / Team Manager) who may or may not ride. Australia has just put together GreenEDGE, how about taking the edge and showing some Asia Pacific might?

The Confero Mavericks team was a demonstration of teamwork, assigned roles, individual sacrifice for team goals. You might be tempted to do it on your own. But when you see another competitor sliding along the highway at 40kph after losing control trying to take a water bottle from the motor scooter neutral support, you’ll be so happy you’ve got your team around you and you’re sharing the responsibility and the sighs of relief.

It’s okay, today you’ve got 72 days left to the start line. You’ve got until 31st March to get your team together and book your flights (and to book at least three days at a tropical beach resort afterwards, you earned it remember!).

I’ll say it again, this is an experience, maybe even a rite of passage.

Strap in and hang on.

Confero Mavericks Tour of Friendship R1 Thailand 2011 Prologue Cockpit View

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Sometimes it can help to go back, reverse

On a bicycle you’re always looking ahead, scanning, anticipating, looking at the path forwards.

Cycling Perspective Performance Point Ormond Elwood VIC

Your head is up, identifying obstacles, changes or hazards ahead, searching for clear space. It’s a very rare occasion you’ll fully look back whilst going forwards, it might just be the point you hit that pothole and get thrown off.

But have you ever tried it?
There’s a distinct difference between seeing the road rushing by underneath and looking back to see where you’ve come from, the horizon disappearing rather than becoming more familiar.

Beach Rd Cycling Specialized Tarmac Corratec

Mountain biking offers an even more unique experience. On the trail, in tight tracks, senses are on full alert. Rocks, roots, ruts, trees, twists and turns, and other countless features, Kangaroos even. You’ve got to look up and keep looking ahead, preparing for what lay ahead. Staring down at the ground in front, you see the detail but lack the flow required. You stutter and stall at everything.

Turner Hill MTB Park WA

Eyes up and you’ve identified, processed and anticipated what’s coming, you’ve given yourself every chance to be smooth and to act with the skills and abilities at your disposal. For most trails, there’s an obvious direction to travel, perhaps it’s clockwise around the circuit. If it’s a trail frequently visited, a ‘home trail’, the features become known and riding them becomes second nature. You become faster, more comfortable and confident, perfect timing and precision come closer. Your brain spends more energy on skills and abilities rather than assessing every trail feature. Much as shifting through manual gears in your car becomes subconscious, your performance on the trail similarly reflects less conscious effort.

There’ll be a point where performance on that home trail has peaked. You’ll consider riding it reverse and you do.

You know it well, the tricky bits, the features, the cruising stages, to your surprise however, it’s almost completely foreign. Unfamiliar familiar territory. It’s as if you’re on it for the first time. Confidence is high that you know exactly where you are but you’re uncomfortable, awkward, you’re confused; it should feel easy. Your senses light up once more. Going back the way you came, it presents difficulties you hadn’t considered or seen.

It’s like going back in time to the start of something else. You know the milestones, the easy bits, the unpleasant times and how you were at those points. They can be uncomfortable to live again, sometimes fun, but you understand much better how you got to where you are now, from where you began.

Going backwards or in reverse is a bit rough, but no less beneficial than going forwards and honing those qualities until they’re once again natural. The retrospective can help you see a different course, or enable the chance to realign thinking.

Keen for a shift in perspective, maybe take that tour in reverse?

Alfa Romeo 147 GTA Rear Mirror View

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Extending Boundaries

Limitations and boundaries, sometimes they’re there to keep us from straying, at other times they’re merely a motivator to push to create a new perceived limit.

Hume Hwy Victoria

The Hume Hwy

Over the weekend, not only were some assumptions tested, pre-existing limitations were discarded.

<a name=""> As a cycling enthusiast the number of bicycles owned and ridden numbers in the forties. Alloy, carbon, steel, road, mountain bike, fixie, bmx, the list goes on. Participating in the Tour of Bright cycle race for the first time, it represented the premiere use of a Giant roadbike. Supplied with a demo 2012 Giant TCR Advanced SL1 bike from Giant, some longstanding cynicism about this manufacturer was not only to be pressed, but the odd-looks from the peleton towards a known never-rides-standard cyclist riding a ‘for-the-masses’ bike was assured.

Giant TCR Advanced SL1 2011

The Giant TCR Advanced SL1

Coming from a background of Avanti, Specialized, LOOK, Orbea, Paconi, Bonetti, a long-held disdain for Giant has been held pretty tightly. Having worked in the retail bicycle industry casually for over 10 years, some pretty concrete beliefs have been established that Giant’s speed-wobble on descents, are a bit sloppy and don’t corner well. Enough to arrest any chance of owning one.

Pedaling out into Bright at the foot of the Victorian Alps for the first roll on this brand new Giant was the first step over the threshold; limitation #1 discarded. Passing fellow cyclists remarks were echoing such as “Gee, got to get a photo of that, you on a Giant? That’s not right”. This was a test of not only boundaries and the bike, but resolve to put up with the free commentary; limitation #2 spent.

The race itself was nothing short of agony. With a new steed amplifying the eagerness, there was no option other than to get into the winning break for Stage 1. As grand as that was, the engine was unable to sustain the output and not far before the final climb it was evident that surviving to the finish would be an accomplishment. Nevermind, the finish of the stage was atop the mount at Tawonga Gap which meant a descent back to Bright was likely to restore the winning feeling.

Tour of Bright 2011 Stage 1 Finish

Finishing atop Tawonga Gap: JXP Photography

Tawonga Gap for any cycling event generally swallows up at least one cyclist into its clutches off the side of the road. Many have suffered its easy lull into confidence for the twisty and fast return to Bright and been bitten hard, fractured bones carted off in the ambulance type of hard. For this reason the road is no longer included in the race.

So it would be with a high degree of trepidation that the descent would be tackled on this Giant. With no memory of the descent as the last attempt was some eight years ago, this was a blind test. Ravaged with fatigue and dead legs, the only upper was a swig of cola before taking off.

To start, a convoy of cars and shattered cyclists prevented progress to around 5kph. Not helpful. After a short while, these were passed. Shortlived joy though as another vehicle prevented quick progress. An opportunity to pass presented and that was it, click, click into the 53×13 gear, not really that big a gear but it would have to do.

Thoughts trickled across the inside of my forehead, speed wobbles, poor cornering, safety?

It was not to be though. Prior to this day the favoured road bike upon which to descend was the Orbea Orca, certainty, confidence, direction, rapidity, such good geometry that it has been replicated multiple times on custom steel frames since. The Giant for this first experience also provided similar geometry.

Thrown out on each corner were those long held beliefs. A big fan of descending, anything that can amplify the thrill and also give optimal feedback of what’s happening underneath mere centimetres of rubber is well sort after. Even without attempting a new KOD (King of Descent), this bike provided certainty, rigidity and feedback like nothing before. The old saying ‘like being on rails’ is well applicable.

Reviewing the Strava file for the descent, it can be seen that compared to the current KOD holder, at the first kilometre a 30 seconds deficit existed.

Strava TG Descent Km1cr
Km1 – 30 second deficit.

Strava TG Descent Km5cr
Km5 – The deficit recovered.

Strava TG Descent Km6.5cr
Km6.5 – The deficit had been turned over into an advantage of 12 seconds. This causes wonder of what could be possible if the road was clear.

And so there it was, long held beliefs and limitations were discarded freely and the opportunity for new boundaries to be extended. The future? It could be a Giant in the stable, it could be a quicker descent, importantly however, flexibility, adaptability and an openness to change was reinforced when least expected.

What’s hiding beyond your boundary?
Bright VIC Tower Hill

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Targeting optimum performance and optimal preparation?

The period leading up to a new role, project or event is an exciting time. The anticipation and excitement is enveloping as thoughts of the unknowns run free. How can this energy be best channelled for optimum performance upon arrival?
Berlin Rail Clock
These last weeks the countdown to a new event in a new environment and new location sparked a raft of thinking and additional preparatory activities.

The Tour de Bintan is a stage cycling race over two days on Bintan Island, Indonesia. Apart from the ‘normal’ sports training to reach optimal condition which remains ongoing, the ability to arrive adequately prepared mentally, physically and knowledgeably, maybe even experientially is oft-overlooked in the single-minded focus on competition.

The approach to Tour de Bintan has been multi-layered and is little different to the approach applied to joining a new organisation.

Mental
To reach a positive mental state and develop the hunger for the new challenge, a certain amount of time is devoted to reviewing previous experiences and looking forward to the new application of energy. Lessons learned are acknowledged, strengths and weaknesses are assessed with a sanity check on progress areas and targets for continued development. Periods of reflection may be balanced with engagement in experiences that stimulate the senses, especially ones that may be put on hold in the start-up period. Perhaps it’s a swim at the beach, maybe a gallery visit, a few idle hours at the library or a nature walk. Experiences that rejuvenate the mind and are not likely to be easily accessible once the new role, project or event has begun.

Maarq Paconi Houffa Custom and Vetta Lime Splice

Mental ease may also be built from developing a structure around identifying what information can be gathered and absorbed, what will be needed early-on and later in the period and locating the appropriate sources.

For Tour de Bintan, a review of the performance and lessons learned at a similar event ‘Tour of Friendship’ Thailand highlighted the volume of electrolyte concoctions consumed and rehydration requirements for tropical conditions, vital reminders after a cool six months in Melbourne. Swimming at the beach was not on the agenda, but quiet time at the local library was a great source of fresh mental stimulation.

Objectives and Challenges
Before a new project or event even became the target, a personal objective was likely stirring the source of the new challenge. Identifying the underlying and explicit objectives will help shape the approach and assist in creating a strategy or at least a plan for what’s coming next. By understanding the motivations behind the challenge and identifying the objectives it’s possible to generate some expectations around what is hoped to be achieved, what can be achieved and what may not be achieved. By formalising and even communicating these expectations to others, be they involved or not, will cement the reality of the challenge and test it!

Racing this time again as a member of the ANZA Mavericks cycling team, it’s been critical to coordinate with the Team Manager to ensure expectations for the race are known and understood.

ANZA Mvericks Tour of Friendship R1 2011 Thailand Prologue

People
In the lead-up, it’s not just about access to people who can tell you first-hand information, perhaps they’ve raced before or maybe they’ve reccie’d the course recently. Maybe they’re a previous employee, or current, of the organisation you’re about to start. There’s also the support network who are keen to share in your new challenge and potential success, family, friends, colleagues, partners. They’re just as invested!

Knowledge
For the Tour de Bintan, it’s a deep-dive into the course information, competitor details, race schedule, results history, Garmin or Strava files, previous race reports, news stories, local environment conditions reports. For a new role it may be company information, performance history, share trading information, key personnel data, company reports, news results, magazine articles, case studies, current or previous employees. Knowledge assists to create a picture of the world about to be entered. How many times would you swing open a door and walk right through with no prior knowledge of what’s on the other side?

TdB Stage 1 Profile
Tour de Bintan Course Profile Stage 1 2011

RIO Share Price 6 months
RIO Tinto 6 Month Share Price 2011

Experiential
Once armed with a body of knowledge and frame of mind ready to tackle your new project, perhaps the most trying element is to replicate the actual environment you’ll be faced with. Recently a study of the effects of long-term space travel was completed, assessing what astronauts may face whilst undertaking a 520 day trip to Mars. They didn’t leave the carpark, but they’re well placed to know first-hand what it feels like to be isolated for that long. Bintan Island reported potential temperatures of up to 45c recently, not likely in Melbourne’s Spring but closely replicated in a gym steamroom to aid adaptation. Perhaps you’re about to take up a post with a multi-site retailer, what better way to know what happens than to walk into a store?

The preparatory period will be different for everyone and some areas more important than others; what else can be done to achieve optimum performance in your new challenge?

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