What’s The Worst That Can Happen?
I’ve been enjoying writing again. Whenever I get busy or particularly tired, writing seems to go by the way-side.
Had someone ask me for the key things that I learned about writing from the Going Long process. Here’s what I wrote:
Probably the two most important things that helped me..Overall, I was surprised at just how tough it is to write a book. My 2005 project was my 2nd book but I haven’t really got stuck into that project. While I have a lot of bits and pieces, I don’t have the chapter structure. Perhaps my super-long-haul flights in early 2006 will get me rolling on that. No rush there as I keep learning each year.
1 -- making a detailed outline of the entire book -- chapter by chapter and section by section. Very helpful.
2 -- clearing the decks -- setting my schedule up so that I had two full weeks to focus exclusively on the book. I wrote six days per week and had to finish the rough draft of the goal chapter before I was allowed to leave my office (which was a Starbucks).
I also hired Wy to collate my existing writings into the pre-draft of each chapter. That gave me ideas and text to get the ball rolling. There were extensive rewrites from the early drafts but once you have the entire book down -- totally rough -- it is FAR easier to create a solid product that reads well. Once we had the final drafts, Joe's cold review of the finished product -- start to finish was very, very valuable. So a project partner that understands your subject matter is valuable. Having a guy like Joe involved really helped me as I am weak in many of the areas where he is strong.
I received the following in my mailbag. I spent most my 20s feeling this way about one thing or another (sailing, athletics, travel…).
I've seen a few off-handed comments about how you semi-retired from the world of VC when you were about 30. I guess you always knew you would reenter the working world but you had some tri-business to take care of... is that a fair assessment?I was 32 when I handed back my partnership – I’d been with the firm for ten years. At the time, I didn’t have any strong goals in terms of triathlon achievement. I figured that I’d be able to get into the low-9s in terms of IM performance but that wasn’t the driver for me at all. The main driver was that I’d become a bit bored with my working life and the pollution in Hong Kong was really getting me down. As well, I think that I was a bit worn out from ten years in London/Hong Kong – however – I didn’t feel that way at the time.
I've thought about taking time, maybe 6-9 months or maybe several years when I turn 30. This happens in about 2 years. I'm wondering if you could share some insight into how you decided it was time for you. I know it's a rather personal thing which wouldn't necessarily apply to me, but I'm interested in your thoughts anyway.You are right that we each have to find our own way, our own experience. I’ve seen others try to follow the path of a friend that appears happy/content to find neither. Perhaps, that’s because a feeling of satisfaction arises from the way we think on the inside rather than how we are acting on the outside.
I didn’t have any real plan or strategy – I simply had a very clear feeling that I had to leave. Before I left the firm, I took a two month leave-of-absence. I spent most of that in Boulder and truly loved the freedom of being able to train (helped to grab a Kona slot in the first week of my break). Back then, I wasn’t constantly on-line and had much less going on. So I had 7-9 weeks that were almost completely my own. I’d wake each morning (staying in the mountains above Boulder) and write for 20-40 minutes. The process of morning writing, training and spending time alone – that helped me realise what I wanted to do and deprogram from Hong Kong.
If you are wondering what’s really possible with athletics then an experienced guy like yourself really needs to allow five years and attack it with a true passion/joy. With a period as short as 6/9 months, you’ll get into great shape but you won’t be able to make the physiological changes required to see what’s possible. You need a few years simply to prepare/build yourself so that you can do the training required to see what might be possible.
I feel like there's a lot more I want to do in my professional career, but I also realize that this might be a good time in my life to pursue athletics in a more focused manner.You’ve likely got 50 years left to pursue both your working and athletic lives. That’s worth remembering – in a lot of different ways.
If you are just about to get yourself in a position to make a stack of cash in your career (Monsy calls that making “bank” – I always smile at that expression) – then… think it through before you hand that back to ride your bike. What I always do/did was review what I was forsaking financially against two criteria: (a) percentage of current NAV; (b) percentage of annual cost of living. Not a bad way to review most financial decisions because it focused on current capital as well as current burn rate. Probably the VC guy in me.
Thinking about that – I do the same evaluation in terms of my training – I look at average weekly volume in each sport compared to race distance. Learned that from Mister A – the big guy taught me a few things.
However, I have to admit that it is a HUGE trip to be right up at the sharp end (of any race) and there is a sell-by date on that (but Joe B is still winning them). However, if we are talking about being world class then you can do that in your 40s, 50s, 60s… and it is plenty competitive. I coach a guy in his late 60s and it’s been WAR between him and his pals for years. A good natured kind of war, though.
One of the things, for me, is that I haven’t been very good at kicking back and waiting it out. When I have been most happy is when I’ve thought something up and gone for it.
The thing that swung it for me was that I realised that my worst case scenario was that I’d get my old job back – perhaps at a bit less money but I was earning more than I needed. I was also earning far more than I needed to do the things that I loved. Reviewing where I was spending my time and money in 1998 and in 1999 was an eye opener for me.
So… I was fortunate to get myself into a position in my early 30s where I could support myself for a year of training. I also surfaced various part-time “jobs” that were able to contribute towards covering my overheads. So I managed to hold my personal NAV steady while doing what I loved. For me, that seemed like a great deal. I also had a multiple of my annual burn rate socked away so that gave material comfort.