When I was at school I was on both the swim and track teams. Through the last two years of high school and then 6 years of University I was a nerd, buried in books, sport a long way from my mind.

In my early thirties I started running, a random thing. A sequence of events kept me running. Had me switch to triathlon. It was not a plan. It was simply a response. 

In the early days I created a tool that I found very useful when my motivation was low to get up and go train. 

It went like this.

I would lie in bed, awakened by the alarm. Typically in the sweet spot of comfort. The kind of sweet spot that keeps you in bed. 

Then I would ask these questions while still lying in exactly the same place.

It is now two hours later, and I got up and did my sport. How do I feel?

It is now 5 PM on the same day. I got up and did my sport. How am I feeling now?

It is now two hours later and I did NOT get up and do my sport. How do I feel?

It is now 5 PM on the same day and I did NOT get up and do my sport. How do I feel?

If I knew I would feel better both at the 2 hours later and the 5 PM time for having done my sport I now get to decide if I want a day where I feel good, or a day where I choose, deliberately, to feel bad. 

Almost 100% of the time I got up. I choose feeling good. 

Occasionally getting up and doing my sport would make me feel worse. Tiredness, illness, or injury might contribute to this. The discipline was to stay in bed. I have seen many athletes ignore these signals, the addiction of the endorphin high too tempting to deny. 

Over time my training became a habit. I rarely need to use the tool I created. I choose to feel well and strong and fit every day.

To give context, I am someone who clearly benefits from hard endurance sport. This is not for everyone. My mother has practiced yoga for over fifty years, way before it became a thing. 

Throughout my sporting life I have competed in age group world triathlons (Olympic distance and Half Ironman), an Ironman Triathlon (3.8km swim + 180km bike + 42.175 km run), over twenty marathons and ultra-marathons and many other races locally and internationally.

Sport, particularly distance and endurance sport like the ultra distances, has taught me as much about me, my inner world, my character, my strengths and weaknesses, as any other field of play might have. A University through movement.  Applicable to any business, leadership or enterprise.

*What does it mean to quit? When is quitting the right thing to do? When is quitting the cheats way out?

*How do I pace? At what pace can a start a 96km run and expect to finish in good shape? What will happen if I go out too hard, too fast? (Easy answer, in most cases, you are broken before the end.)

*Recovery, fuel, nutrition, sleep…it is the non training times that make the biggest difference. Good sleep, excellent nutrition, the right amount of recovery. To go hard constantly is to invite breakdown prematurely. 

*Mental strength. Remember why you started in the first place. In Syntropic World we call this the Source Idea. The original animating impulse. There is a Pattern Integrity to this impulse. For me it was to get fit, stay fit and no longer be a couch potato. When things change, when we enter competitions, win races, we might load a whole lot of different pressures on ourselves, disconnected from the Pattern Integrity of the original impulse. Pressure is a choice about accepting the expectations of others. We also create our own pressure through our own expectations. We can choose to not accept these expectations.

The sportspeople who inspired me the most were those who refused to take on the pressures of others. They stayed focused on their own process, their own reason why they competed. Ian Thorpe, the Australian swimmer, set an incredible example of this. 

*Training and doing the preparation. We have to be confident that we have done the work. That we have considered all possible breakdowns before we get to the start line. In training we focus on one step, giving it our all. We assess and then take the next step. Repeat. Year in. Year out. When something breaks we give it full respect, learn from it. Start again. We reach a place where we trust our training, trust what we have in the bank of experience and allow that trust to bring the right amount of confidence, not too cocky, not too nervous…and then do what we can, leaving nothing from the effort applied.

I watch the Olympics, witness amazing courage and strength. Years of dedication. The untold stories of athletes reaching the point of here. All the pain. The challenges. The breakdowns. The triumphs. The perfect or imperfect timing. 

To arrive as an Olympian in its own right is exceptional. To make it to a final is extraordinary. To win a medal is to enter a domain that few know. 

Business talks about meritocracy. Forgetting that access to the better schools, the ‘in’ crowd with networks of influence, being the right gender, colour and ethnicity precedes any true meritocracy in almost all cases.

Sport has that. Rich countries, Richer opportunities. Yet when it gets to the pointy end, it comes down to heart. Like the remarkable Tokyo Olympics Women’s road race, where the Austrian Mathematician, Anna Kiesenhofer, road almost the entire race on her own, digging deep, suffering solo for hours. Never quitting. Backing herself, not knowing that the peloton behind her did not know she was in the lead, and as such they never tried to catch her…luck so very much on her side.

*Luck makes a difference. Anyone who denies its place in events has either too much privileged or has not been around long enough. Luck to be born into a country that allows freedom. That supports women to ask for a place at the table. That provides education and health care. Luck of timing. A year ago the medal winners would not have been the same. Luck of weather. So many elements out of our control. 

My sport kept me going through dark days. It was my dependable outlet. On the streets and in the pool I left my heartbreak. My anguish. All the feelings of inadequacy, frustration. Horrid anger. Rage. 

I would be lesser human without the decades of early morning endurance. 

The translation of my sport to Syntropic Enterprise creation is evident.

To know why I am doing this as a pure animating impulse. To never violate the Pattern Integrity of this impulse. To always return to this, even when the wins come in or the road turns rocky.

To understand Kairos time. That unique partnership with the larger patterns of universal time that ebbs and flows. To not push prematurely. To move at a pace that is right for the time, not the pace that I want to go. 

To play with luck. When she arrives, dance with her. When she is missing, keep going, learn, trust that she will return in her own time, cultivate the right attitude to ensure she does. Be ready when she returns, to seize the day.

The discipline to stay the course, yet also know when to quit if that is the right action. To quit or lose with dignity, knowing you are done everything in your power, given your all. Nothing else possible. There is pride in that. 

To take care of my vessel, my body, mind, being. Get rest, take days off, sleep well, eat well, play. 

Do the preparation. If we want to build a cathedral that lasts more than a thousand years we take the time to get the foundations right. We build the container. Create a Trust Manifesto. Build a team through the application of a Synergistic Audit and other things. Know that when we have the architecture right, both the visible and invisible, we are building endurance, resilience, integrity into the very fabric of what we are stewarding.

Work in partnership with that which we are stewarding. When we do this while also maintaining connection to the Pattern Integrity of the Source Idea pressure is rarely present. We can choose to play with the application of pressure to support perturbation. 

It is a different way to create an enterprise. One that honours cycles, flows, partnership, comprehensive consideration.

In application we become more whole, those we work with becoming more whole, the ecology in which we work and play approaches a higher order of wellbeing.

It is a beautiful thing.

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