Last year, we spoke all about smashing big goals and what it is structurally, what you’ve got to do to set the big goals and achieve them. But today, we want to talk about what it’s actually like to be inside the marathon.
What’s it like ‘inside the marathon’?
Today we will look at the totality of the journey. So, it’s not about setting the goals, et cetera, but what’s going on within you during a massive challenge that you have set for yourself. The marathon is our metaphor and example.
Larger than normal challenges – the bucket list stuff
This topic is all about when you’re taking on larger than normal challenges. It isn’t some small day to day thing. We’re talking about your big goals, that are at the bucket list of who you really want to be.
Using marathon as a metaphor and the context being the big goals – our bucket list is a beautiful way of describing it because it might be a fitness goal, like a big run or a swim or an iron man triathlon or something you’ve always wanted. Or it might be climbing a massive mountain. It could be a huge work project or starting your own business. It could be anything like that. It’s a larger than normal challenge in your life that would take a lot more energy and commitment than you normally give.
What we’re talking about is very different to the persons sitting at the bar saying, “One day, I’m going to,” and they never do it. Or they go through life saying, “If only I had.” That’s not what we’re about.
I have to take this leap
What you’ll find is when you get to this point that you are musing over big challenges, “How the hell am I going to start my new business, or am I going to go and do my first marathon or something?” You’ll find you’ll be mulling over it for a period of time and then it will start to eat away at you. Then you’re thinking, “Oh God, I really didn’t want to do this.” A kind of internal tug-of-war is going on. It will start to get inside your head and you think, “I’ve got to do this,” until the point where you say, “I can’t not do this.” The voice inside you calling you to be your best YOU says, “I HAVE to take the leap.”
You will be shitting yourself. You’ll be sitting there going – am I out of my depth here? Greg recalls the first time he set out to do a marathon. He had never run more than 10Ks; he had no idea what it was going to be like. He was petrified that he wouldn’t be able to do it. Then when he paid the entrance fee and he thought, “Jeez, I better go and run a few miles.”
At this point there is this voice saying, “What have I done? This is crazy. So it’s a thing where you are reaching high. You’ve set this high thing. It’s a deliberate choice and immediately, there’s going to be fear.
Setting the goal – getting the skills
You’ve set yourself a goal, okay? At the very, very start then of the journey – whatever form it takes, you’ve got to get those skills. If you’re going to set out on a particular journey, whatever that journey is, there’s a period at the beginning there of just setting the goal and the sub goals, but what are the skills I’m going to need? You can’t just get up and go and run a marathon.
One of the fun bits at the beginning will be that everyone will be telling you to build up slowly. Almost like a curve that’s slowly building gets steeper and steeper towards the end. But you’re so impatient and you want to get some runs on the board. You go and dive into it. Often at this point, you go too far, too fast and this can knock a lot of people off their journey. Because they go, “Well, I’m going to run a marathon and I’ll go and run 18Ks this weekend.” And they kill themselves, got blisters all over their feet and they never run another mile again.
This is one of the really hard parts about a marathon or whatever you’re doing. At this early point, there’s got to be this level of patience that this is going to be okay. And just build momentum, early on to build that capability and fitness and skill.
Any change whether it’s a physical change or a work change, a relationship change, you’ve got to be very, very patient. When Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa, one of the very first things he did is, “We’re going to have a truth and reconciliation commission.” Now, that was a journey.
He just didn’t go and get the idea and set it up within the first month. He had to do that work. So he got the right people, he got the right panel, he got people wanting to come and share their particular story. So he did a lot of that preparation time, the setting up time.
It would be the same if you’re starting a business. This level of patience while you build that capability and then you’ll find there’s all these other pressures. As you’re going along, maybe you find all of a sudden your family needs more of your time than you expected, or there’s more financial pressure than you expected and maybe you get distracted with other priorities.
This is what happens when in a busy life you’re trying to take on a massive challenge. There’s all these bits that are pulling you in different directions and you have to make sacrifices. There are sacrifices that you might have to make. Every now and then, on this journey to getting to the start line of your marathon, you will find that you’ve got to make a sacrifice one way or the other.
Either the marathon is going to take a bit of a hit or you’ve got to take a bit of a hit. But at that point, you’re going through these value judgments. What’s the right thing to do? In this situation, you can’t set a blanket rule to say, marathon, new business, whatever it is you’re doing always wins. If you do that, oh man, you’re going really find it hard. Each situation requires careful consideration. Sometimes your big goal wins, sometimes it needs to take a slightly backward seat.
Not walking alone
And you can’t walk any journey on your own. You’ve got to talk about it with the people who are really close to you. You’re going to get the voice saying, “That’s a stupid idea.” It’s going to be that real true friend and mentor who can see this is something that you really need to actually do, and they will walk beside you as much as they can and this brings you closer together with those who really believe in you. That’s one of the wonderful things about it.
Then with really big challenges it vital to have a coach in your corner. They are a technical or wisdom figure who in this aspect of life, gives you perspective, points you in the right way, helps you with your skills and challenges you.
Greg has a coach now for his business because they can tell him the next step that he needs to follow and then they teach you things like how to vary your training so you don’t stall and they teach you all the different elements because they’ve been there and done it and they know all the steps inside out.
What you’ll find is when you start off on the big challenges, the pathway to the start line or the preparation before, looks like an abyss. You have no idea how you’re going to get from where you are now to the start line. That’s where a coach can just give you so much confidence. They’ll give you a training plan or a business plan or whatever it is you’re doing and you’ll go, “Okay, now I can see it.”
That gives you some patience, it gives you some confidence in what’s happening.
Then what begins to happen regardless of the particular type of journey, your particular fitness grows, there’s a sense of momentum, you’re beginning to sense, “I’m on this journey now. I’ve ticked a couple of boxes. I might not have gotten to the actual starting line of the marathon, the sign itself, but my fitness is getting near, I’m acquiring the particular skills and as you share about this and as people see you doing that, others are inspired. When others see you chasing big goals – they are inspired as well!
Then maybe if you decided to do something like the Kokoda trail, something like that. And you’re going alone and you’re going to need training and what happens is you hit a wall. Might be even training for a while. You hit a wall and your fitness just stalls, doesn’t get any better.
But then what happens is you break through that barrier. Maybe you change your training and you get fitter again, and you go, “Wow.” And you feel good. People notice that in you. Not just that you’re going to do Kokoda, which is inspiring in its own right, but that you are transforming yourself.
When people can see that within you, that is inspiring. When we see other people do it, we’re inspired by that to get up and do more. So it’s a wonderful thing to play that role for someone when you’re doing it.
The negative voices – hitting the wall
Tough times will come in big challenges. Business is going to be hitting the wall. You’re going get injury and the self doubt voice can’t wait to have a say. The self doubt voice might well be be with you on the whole journey, and it takes different forms at different times. That’s always going to be there but you know it’s there. That’s okay. Yeah, look at it in the face.
One of those self-doubt voices will be, “Is this worth it?” because you are sacrificing so, very, very much.
Particularly if you’re doing something that’s pretty significant, that’s putting yourself out there, it’s going to be a fair bit of public attention. Maybe you’ve got to promote yourself, maybe through either fundraising or the business. It can be a bit scary because you might be saying to yourself, “Oh, I don’t want a big number.” And say, “Why do I wanna put myself out there?” That tall poppy syndrome can come in and just eats away at you if you’re not careful.
But remember what this all started from, this started from values and you really wanting to do something that was important to you, was gnawing away at you, and there’s a strategy you come up with doing it. And if it involves some exposure, that’s good. Never forget that you are doing something that is good for the world. If people wanted to attack you, that’s their problem.
Embrace the adventure of YOUR marathon
The second you put yourself out there, you’re going to have people that are going to try to knock it down. But try to see it as a bit of a fun too, almost like in an adventure. “I’m growing my own self.”
There are times on different types of journeys, Pricey’s had to walk different types of marathons. It isn’t fun all the time, but there is a sense of adventure in it. Pricey did a 95K hike when in New Zealand a couple of years ago, and it was physically tough. But every time he conquered another high alpine pass and then down in the valley looking back, there was a sense of the journey. You’re walking with your mates, you’re achieving your goal.
One time Greg was executive coach at a mining company that was doing a massive turnaround in Africa. It was a really, really hard business turnaround. This was a marathon of three years. But the adventure of it, which was not so much the fact that we were in Africa doing mining, which was cool in its own right, but the challenge of everyone being there, the drama that unfolded constantly because of the nature of the business. It was just something that was cool to be a part of. It felt like in many ways a bit of an adventure. That’s one of the great things about big turnarounds in particular. They’re just fun.
One thing is, when you’re on a longer journey, when you’re on this journey of life, you work hard, you hit the wall at times, but then you grow in your strength and your fitness or whatever the thing is. You reach a plateau in it and you know it within yourself, “I’m on a higher plateau of skill. I’m on a higher plateau of fitness.” That feels good. Now, you know there’s going to be another wall, that is okay. You get to the start in line of the particular race, particular marathon and you’re ready.
At the starting line
At the start line – it is the day you’ve worked hard for, you made this choice. You start off strong. You’ve got a rhythm going. It’s almost a bit of a honeymoon period.
When Greg recalls the first marathon he ever did the first 10 k’s were easy. The first business he ever ran, the first 10Ks was easy, and then what happened? Then you start to question, maybe things don’t go as you perfectly planned because when you’re actually operating, or you’re actually running, things start to go wrong. A bit of self doubt.
Maybe the pace is a bit faster than you thought or a bit slower. Maybe the cash flow’s not as good as you hoped. Oh my gosh. Something is not quite where you want it to be and the inner voice call say, “Holy shit!” And then you’re like, “Right. Oh, that’s right. I’m doing a marathon. This is going to be hard.”
Pricey’s last 12 months has been professional challenging. He has been in a fairly significant role at work. For the first month or two, it was the first time in his life for a long time, that he was boss – with huge responsibility. For the first couple of months there was a real energy flow – almost adrenaline – a sense that Pricey was enjoying that chance to implement his own dream. He could focus the enterprise his way and then the difficult questions began to come in. The difficult issues coming in, the self doubt comes in, et cetera. But that made the whole journey worth it.
The pain sets in
Now, at this point in the marathon, maybe you’re about halfway through, sometimes things go wrong. Now, this will take many forms. When Greg did the Atacama Ultra Marathon in Chile. The runners were delayed getting to the start line because of the earthquakes in Chile.
Greg was sick as a dog because we were at altitude and dry air and all these kind of stuff. He was really sick the first day even though they ran 40 Ks the first day and then 40 Ks the second; he was really sick. By the end of the third day, Greg was a mess. He had to make a decision then and there, after a year of training and all the hard work, “Do I continue?” And every now and then the decision has to be absolutely, “No.”
And in that moment, Greg knew the answer. It was hard to say, “After all this training, I’m not going to go out and complete this race.” You know what? But as soon as he came to decision, he was completely at peace. Greg knew it was the right thing. It would be the wrong thing to go out and push himself potentially, seriously get in trouble out there. So, every now and then, the writing’s on the wall, “This isn’t for you now. This is the wrong business idea. This is the wrong challenge for you. You’re unfit. This is just not the right time, turn back.”
The point of honesty and self awareness – the freedom to say ‘no’
That point of honesty and self awareness is one of the most powerful things. When you even get to this space where, “Hey, I worked really hard. I’ve put so much time and effort and energy into all this, but then that hasn’t been a waste.” You’ve grown as a person. You’ve grown physically, spiritually, but you get to a space where, “No, this is not where I need to actually be.” That decision to go, “No,” while it’s painful and while you will be sad, and you will grieve it, it’s the best, best one.
What was interesting for Greg after that particular challenge, of that particular turn back is that he took the fourth day out of five days off. Then actually recovered almost completely because all he needed was one day. The shame of it all was just that he was sick for that particular point.
On the fifth day, is an 80K double marathon Greg had never gone so fast with so much happiness. He was free. He wasn’t competing just to hit the finish line. Now, he was running and enjoying the place he was at just for the joy of it.
The inner marathon – the mindset change
Something got changed within Greg and on any journey, any particular marathon, that’s the biggest, biggest journey. The one within you and you changed, you grow, your mindset had changed.
But in the end, most of the time when you’re in these really hard marathon type journeys, you do get towards the end and there’s a couple of key places, two final steps before the finish.
To continue our marathon analogy – somewhere around about the 30 to 39K mark out of 42 is where it can often be an all consuming pain. You’re not close enough to the finish line to see it. You are pushing yourself, and you’re just totally inside your own head, and the voices are going and the body’s racked with pain and you are pushing yourself to this new level you have never been before. It feels, I suppose no other word, but all consuming.
In the professional role Pricey has been in there were times towards the end of 2018 there was a three month period when he copped a ton of severe conflict with no resolution where a professional colleague made Pricey’s life hell.
Pricey went through all this stuff about questioning his own self. In that time, he had anger around him. He had confusion around him. he had aggression around him and he had to dig deep. He had to be very clear. He had to be honest inside on making every right call, true to his own self.
Pricey put in the hard yards. He became aware of his own ego. He did a lot of that 32 to 39 Ks stuff within his own self. It was ugly and messy. He have been at Melbourne airport one day and just got a phone call and he didn’t feel as though he was being supported by some people that should have been supporting him professionally. Pricey wanted to walk away from it all. But a deeper voice kept saying, “No, you’re on the right journey. You’re doing the right things, you’re being true to yourself.” After a while, that inner journey began to grow. That inner voice was strong.
The finish line
They say, the night is darkest before dawn. This is the point. Because what then happens is you go out of the darkness, and you can just see this little sliver of light on the horizon that says, “Hey, that might be the finish line. You might be through this challenge and it’s the end.”
Then the hurting starts to go, “Oh yes.” And the pride perhaps starts to build that you’ve defeated this fight or this challenge. That was really in a marathon context, 39 to 42Ks. You don’t really see it too much before that because you’ve got at least 15/20 minutes to run still, however fast you run. It is a magical moment because now, the mind is almost split between the pain and visualising the finish.
It is a beautiful, beautiful time. As you cross the finish line, and the finish line takes a million, million forms, it’s a celebration of you. You’ve achieved a personal kind of a victory.
People laugh, but Pricey has actually got a PhD and he remembers on the night when the degree was conferred he joined the academic party about to walk into the hall and there is a couple of thousand as people there. This had been a five year journey for Pricey. He remembers something inside saying, “Celebrate this.” Pricey remembers walking in, in cap and gown and there was a sense of, “Yes!”
When you have a PhD, you’re the first person who receives. Pricey felt pride. He felt a sense of, “Yes, this has been a journey. I’m a better human being for it.”
There’s this deep sense of peace when you have set your goals high, worked hard and reached them. Greg had that feeling when he put his book ‘Chiefmaker’ into the printer and then got the final hard print copy back in the post; it was like “Wow.”
Greg was talking to Bill the other day who just finished his first ever 10K Ocean swim which is the equivalent of months of hard work – we’re talking six months or 12 months to train for it phenomenally hard; hard race. Like wind, current; hard. 10Ks in the pool is hard. 10Ks in the ocean is twice as hard. Greg was filled with admiration for the effort. There was a great feeling of pride in Bill – it was “I did that.”
That is what happens when you achieve something like this. You get in and go – at the end of YOUR marathon – you look back and you go, “How the hell did I do that?”
When you’re on that mountain top, there’s a view, and there’s a great, great sense of achievement. I’ve got a friend of mine who’s had a son who’s a severely autistic boy. For years there, it was a real journey, a marathon. But they’ve come to a space within their own lives now where it’s still got a difficulty, but there’s a sense of pride, a sense of family, a sense of love, commitment. They’re (him and his wife) looking back now and and it’s a beautiful space.
Now, Look, we’ve got a special challenge that we’d like to invite everyone to join us in. One of our members, Jimmy Purcell (a dead set legend), is driving a pushup challenge in July. That’ll be July 2019. And we’re going to do this together as universal men.
JOIN US HERE: PUSH – UP CHALLENGE
There’s going to be a little group website where we can track all our effort.
If you’d like to be part of this because this is a marathon, this is not going to be easy; 3000 push ups in a month or equivalent squats or steps. So, if you would like to be involved, contact us for the universal men website at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get you involved in the pushup challenge. We’re going to do a bit of work through June to prepare ourselves and then get ready for the 3000 push ups.
Pricey and Grego