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Posts Tagged ‘Nigel Marsh’

Yesterday I watched a video on my iPhone. Nothing unusual there (except it was the first time I had done it) and it had a profound impact on me. So much so, that I found myself wiping away a tear from my eye whilst trying to not let anyone see… after all I was standing on a platform packed with commuters at 8am in east London. Then later I read an email from a friend and fellow athlete and something he wrote really resonated with me. And then I watched another video this evening and something in that tied all the thoughts from the first movie and the email together… so here goes.

The most important thing we can do for ourselves is decide what we want as far as work-life balance is concerned and then make that a reality. Oh and I believe that at the moment I have it wrong.

Here is the first video I watched, whilst waiting for a train to take me to another day of relentless and probably pointless grind doing something that I am well paid for, but which ultimately I do not get any joy from. It is a TED talk by a chap called Nigel Marsh.

I think the reason the video affected me so deeply was because everything Nigel Marsh says is so blindingly obvious. I went cold when he said that if we do not design the life we want for ourselves then someone else will and we might not like their idea of balance – and moreover that if that ‘someone’ is a company it will be to our detriment. I realised that I spend almost all my time worrying about, thinking about, resenting or trying to be passionate about doing things for other people that I don’t really care about. And what makes it worse is that in theory I work 4 days a week – at least that is what I am paid for.

Then I got an email from my friend Neil. Neil and I used to work together and we had a shared passion for endurance sport. Neil is a triathlete, but I won’t hold that against him. In a corporate environment I was delighted to meet someone else who was as passionate as me about endurance sport. Sadly we no longer work together but occasionally exchange emails and in his last message Neil told me that he had negotiated a couple of days a week working from home to avoid what I imagine is at least an hour commute to work each way, every day. He wrote that this would have a very positive impact on his ability to train and bring him closer to his dream of a podium place in the World Triathlon Championships. A bold ambition but I have no doubt that he will succeed. Why do I think that? Because of his dedication – physical dedication, mental dedication and the the fact that he is taking responsibility in his life for creating the opportunity to make his dream come true. Those three together make for a very, very powerful combination.

And tonight, while my fiancée was out having dinner with a friend, I found an Alex Honnold video on a Chinese version of YouTube where this incredible climber was free soloing the face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California. A truly amazing feat. But what struck me more during the video was the lighthearted comments that Alex made about living in a van and not having a girlfriend. His dedication means that he is prepared to live with minimal comfort in pursuit of his dream. He knows that meeting a girl is unlikely when ‘home’ is a shelf in the back of a Transit sized van full of unwashed clothes and a ton of climbing gear. But Alex is prepared to forgo the comforts that he could have (not to mention the career and earnings he could have if he had a ‘normal’ life) in order to dedicate himself to his passion.

So what does all this mean to me? Well I think it is all pretty obvious really. Fairly soon (although I hope not too soon) I will be lowered into the ground. And on that day I would like to think that I will have had a good and interesting and useful life and that people will have something to say about me that is not that I worked hard or that I was a responsible person or some other bullshit banality. I would like people to remember me for being the best runner I could be. For giving triathlon and climbing and hiking and cycling and many, many other things a go. For pushing myself to test myself and do more and be better. Because more than anything I believe more passionately than I can explain in words, that (to paraphrase Nigel Marsh) life is not a game of ‘who the fuck has the most money when they die’… so live on friends and follow your dreams.

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