Monday, September 20, 2010

The View from my Bicycle [COLUMN]

I had an epiphany whilst working on an article this week.  The premise is about looking at gadgets that athletes often use to enhance their performance.  So the idea was initially to gauge the effectiveness of various gadgets.  Without going into much detail, the most important asset you have when you're trying to perform at your peak, or simply more effectively, is you.  In fact if we're speaking about assets, not even owning your own home, or a car, or what's in your bank account compares to the the asset that is you.  Well, a healthy you.  A distracted, semi-attentive, stressed and sick you is less of an asset.  But a healthy you is the most vital and valuable asset you'll ever own.


Consider for example some of those small things we do that we take for granted to make us more effective.  It may be a cup of coffee to give us that boost.  What if you found a way to boost your own energy.  Another trick is training to music or with an iPod plugged into our ears.  It is a way to motivate you, sure, and to occupy your mind whilst moving, but there is another psychology to consider too.  Imagine if, while you are exercising, you can instead concentrate - in virtual silence - on you.  On your goals. And let the inner motivation flow - your thoughts, crystal clear, encouraging you to dance. Because it's important that we know how to do this - motivating ourselves, that whole inner dialogue.  On why you are doing what you are doing, and how you should be doing it.  Isn't the music a distraction from the pain and discomfort? Isn't it running interference for that vital inner dialogue, interrupting or drowning out the reasons why we are sweating in the first place.  And they are good reasons no doubt, we're just out of practise reminding ourselves what they are. And isn't it really important that you listen and feel your body, rather than making exercise another thing we want to escape from, rather than celebrate or at least do so in a fully realised fashion?

Listen and Learn

Another example is the heart rate monitor.  Top athletes don't use them.  Why?  Because they listen to their bodies.  They push themselves according to 'perceived' exertion.  My guess is they're able to push themselves a lot harder because they know how to listen to their bodies, and better, they know how to respond.

Give yourself a chance to know yourself, and absorb this sense of aliveness.  Turn off the distractions, move away from all the entertaining things that ultimately serve little purpose but to amuse us [and waste our time].  You are your most important asset.  Respect that fact.  And find ways to live by this new knowledge I'm sharing with you today.  Apply the hard lessons that require repetition and effort.  See if you can do the most vital thing that you need to do, rather than buy or pay for something else that allows you then not to commit yourself personally to making an effort, and being physically and wholeheartedly committed.  There is tremendous value in the experience of putting oneself thoroughly in pursuit of a goal.  Without background music.  Just you.

The next time you do something, do it for you.  Strip away the music, the make-up, all the distractions and just be yourself doing what you are doing.  And you might find good reasons why you aren't who are, but those same reasons will push you to become the you you've been waiting to be.

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