There was a young boy called Mark who had dreams and annoying habits – having a foreign mother and visiting family overseas meant he had a dream to travel and work abroad, much to his mothers dismay he also liked questioning things (why mummy, why?) so problem solving and projects seemed a natural career path for him. He was also pretty competitive (to the point of bending the rules/cheating sometimes) and enjoyed sports.
Over the years he started fulfilling these dreams, travelling all over Europe with work, having a career as Head of Continuous Improvement. He also had a pretty successful stint as a bodybuilder, placing in most of the shows he competed in, gaining sponsorship and a small amount of fame (alas before the days of Instagram and Facebook).
This all worked really well through his 30’s but then things changed, he had given up bodybuilding, still enjoyed work, but his values and priorities were becoming more about looking after himself – midlife crisis springs to mind.
He bought some trainers, squeezed into lycra, and started running. Not ideally built for running and maybe a little too old to become competitive, but he kept on trying, sometimes failing, usually doing ok (an average runner).
He continued enjoying his work and the travelling, visiting some marvellous airports and offices, meeting some great people at work, but never really visited the countries.
Then something happened, he realised that rather continuing doing what he’s always done, making the same mistakes and blaming others for bad performances, he could use his continuous improvement thinking to become a better runner, think about what went well and what went wrong, then find options and solutions. He also realised he could use running to achieve the goal of visiting more places – including abroad.
I still do make mistakes, ignoring bad fitting shoes or tiredness, but I’m getting far better at being more conscious about this and not blaming things not in my control. Last year I visited 18 different areas of the UK to run in (didn’t realise the UK was so diverse until I did this, not always necessary to go abroad to find nice places), and this year I raced in Madeira. I also won my first race in 2017, I actually raced on a Saturday, things went ok but I didn’t win, then I had a second race the next day, I looked at what worked and didn’t work from the previous day, fixed these things and improved to the point of winning. What I also realised at this point is my competitive nature is really about competing with myself to improve, not so much about competing against others – I didn’t collect my winners prize from that race, the self satisfaction was enough for me.
So going back to that little boy, wanting to travel and also being a pain in the arse to his mother, it’s taken a funny route to get to where I am now, but I’m now achieving these dreams of visiting new places and using my continuous improvement skills (my mum probably didn’t call them skills at the time) in a way I enjoy.
I think I’m getting closer to where I want to be, work has actually resulted in more pleasure.