20 November 2005

Why Wait

I was out running last night running through the streets of Edinburgh. While running around physically, I was running through my head mentally, taking inventory of the year. It’s been a pretty big year for me. Actually, it wasn’t night, it was the middle of the afternoon but after a week in Asia, the return to Scotland had my head a little confused in daylight terms.

I’ve no idea how often I’ll be writing here but various things keep rolling through my head and it helps to clear them out by getting them down.

Why Wait – that’s short for “why wait to be great”. You can apply it to a wide range of things. Such as:
There’s always a good reason to party
There’s always a good reason not to train
There’s always a good reason to put myself last
I’ll stretch later
I’ll start tomorrow
That’s a conversation that I hear all the time.

Anyhow that wasn’t the main thought that was running through my head. I’ve been reading the internet as usual and the conversations are starting to fade in their appeal to me. I normally don’t mind the repetition but for some reason it was wearing me out. I probably need a vacation… or to simply train a little bit more… or to get back into my routine – I’ve been on the road for weeks and there is only so much fine dining one fellow can handle.

I read so much about folks focusing on what doesn’t matter and I wonder if they are killing time so they don’t have to take action on what does matter.

Actually, I don’t wonder. I know. At least I know for me.

So back to my run. My reflections – it always seems easy for me to achieve. For years, I couldn’t figure out why I was able to move ahead so quickly. Actually, those thoughts didn’t really start until I moved into athletics and shot ahead so much faster than I ever thought possible. When I was in finance, it’s a lot more up and down, the progress isn’t really as clear because each deal is pretty similar, the growth appears in terms of deal complexity, deal size and overall portfolio size. Also, in finance, much (all?) of the growth appears outside of ourselves. The closest things to marks is salary – suppose that’s why we can get trapped into seeing ourselves in our paychecks.

1990 – first class honours econ/finance, university scholar
1993 – youngest partner in my firm
1998 – climbed Denali, my first true expedition
1999 – first IM, little over 11 hours
2000 – left venture capital after ten years, moved to New Zealand to focus on elite athletics
2002 – spent summer in Edinburgh helping start a property investment business, won Ultraman
2003 – first sub-9 IM
2004 – rode across America, first sub-8:30 IM
2005 – pretty solid year:

March – Had a decent result at IMNZ but found a lack of satisfaction in the overall experience because everyone (other than the guy that I wanted to race) beat themselves. Have to say “chapeau” to Cam Brown. Ended the month by getting engaged.

April – Took on an assignment to re-domicile a fund management business. Decided to sell my house in New Zealand and wind-up my Kiwi Consulting business.

May – Started the month with a road trip to find a suitable jurisdiction for the fund management business. My vote was Cayman – everyone else preferred Bermuda. Decided that they were probably right, incorporated a new company in Bermuda and got the wheels rolling to move the business. While in the UK, realised that there was an opportunity to launch a new company, spent two weeks creating a business plan and info memo for the new company.

July – Got married.

August – Managed a couple of 100K run weeks. Saw the results for Ironman Canada and saw no reason to give up on my dream.

October – Decided that Hawaii is a lousy location from which to conduct business with the UK.

November – Closed the first round of funding for a new company focused on Scottish residential property investment. Six months from conception to legal completion. Joined the board of the new business.

Monica pointed out that we have, we will, spent/spend Saturdays…

In Kona
In Boulder
In Saint Paul
In Edinburgh
In Dubai
In Glasgow/Edinburgh
In Paris
In Montpellier

That seems like an awful lot of travel. One of the things that I do well is being adaptable to a wide range of people and situations. We’ll see how adaptable because I am going to be commuting between hemispheres in early 2006.

“I believe that, generally, people that are good at something are good at everything.” – that’s a quote from my business partner and his key hiring criteria.

My first boss used to hire associates and junior executives based on two criteria – school results and value for money (lucky for me I did well and was extremely cheap).

So why all the outlining? It is a preamble to some things that I’ve observed. Looking back over the last twenty years, I’ve managed to do reasonably well at some very diverse fields: academics, financial analysis, international finance, elite athletics and fund management.

What is the key component that I’ve observed in myself and others around me?

To succeed relative to others: a willingness to consistently out-work the competition for as long as it takes.

To succeed relative to self: a deep satisfaction from taking the actions required to work towards challenging goals.

Intent – if you want to learn about a person’s true intent then look to where they spend their time. What do they really do? Not what they say. True intent is seen through actions. That’s why when our actions aren’t true to ourselves, we slowly crush our spirits. More on that perhaps some other time.

Mile Twenty
Patrick wrote on my board… “…most of us have "accepted" that the wall will come and we can't do anything about it so might was well push it until it hits us and then we can create our own laundry list of excuses (nutrition/wind/temp/etc). this fear is hard for me to grasp on an intellectual level (not athletic, b/c I have been there myself)...why fear the possibility of underperforming by going easy on the bike when you know that this bike effort is undoubtedly going to force you to under perform once you hit the run…”

Great piece of writing…

The challenge of getting past Mile 20 is present daily. All achievement stems from creating the environment and habits that support getting past lots of little Mile 20s.

Most of us are too deeply programmed into our existing patterns to break out unless we are in a new field. Amateur athletics is so new to most of us, we haven’t had the chance to create self-defeating patterns.

Even with a, relatively, clean slate – we bring our existing patterns along wherever we go. As a result, we see many successful AG athletes with pre-existing success in a range of fields. The field depth isn’t as strong as single sports so new athletes can make a mark quite quickly, say five years of focus.

The illogic of self-sabotage might be driven from an underlying fear. If we do everything right and don’t perform… then we might realize our ultimate fear – that deep down we really do ‘suck’. I’ve met more than a few people that are driven by this contradiction.

OK that’s enough for now.

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