Quote I am liking
‘Mastery requires endless remastery because success is a process and not an end destination”
I came across this from one of my favourite blogs Friday Forward where Robert Glazer talked about the New England Patriots winning their sixth super Bowl championship, cementing them as one of the greatest professional sports dynasties in modern history. Apparently, the single greatest factor in the Patriots’ success is their immunity to Success Disease, a concept coined by legendary coach Bill Walsh. According to Walsh, once you achieve a high mark, you forget the effort, focus and discipline that brought the success in the first place. With repeated success comes overconfidence and arrogance and a sense that we have mastered it, and before you know it, someone holds all your cards and is playing them against you. But not the Patriots. Collectively as a team, they are known for enjoying their victories and then quickly getting back to work on the next season. They bring themselves back to the base camp and begin looking up at the next peak.
I found so much truth in this quote after analysing my typical behaviour after any major feat. After publishing a research report that I have been working on for a month, whats the immediate thing I want to do? Waste as much time as possible catching up on all the hilarious videos I have been swiping across on WhatsApp or YouTube. Not just for a day, but maybe two or more. After a successful work event, one that took so much effort to put together, the first instinct (only natural) is to go in search of the finest whisky to celebrate. This typically ends up being more than a double or triple and next thing the following day is wasted, trying to survive 8-5 with a hangover. For the month of March, I will remember that the key to sustained success may just be believing deeply that I don’t have it.
Cologne I am obsessing over
Calvin Klein WOMEN. It’s a floral-woody fragrance whose sweetness subtly lingers on the skin all day long. Whenever I wear it, I constantly find myself drawing air from my wrists and I instantly get uplifted. It has such a feel good vibe you might just forget you are at your desk slogging away and imagine you are in Hoian taking in the resplendent burst of colours. It’s amazing how months ago, I was convinced that Jimmy Choo L’EAU and Giorgio Armani Sì Passione were the epitome of heavenly scents and then WOMEN came along and asked “What is a tie?” It zoomed straight to number one position, just like what it stands for; the power and strength of a woman. I am convinced that if I had to leave the comfort of my humble abode and go to a desert with only one item in hand, I would carry WOMEN. Not my phone, not my MacBook, and certainly not a toothbrush. WOMEN it is.
Trait I am desperately seeking
Have you heard of or watched the documentary Free Solo? I haven’t watched (as I simply don’t have the time). However, I make time to read, so I first came across the story on the FT travel section over the weekend. The feature was by one of my favourite travel writers Tom Robbins. He writes simply and beautifully. He doesn’t use vocabularies, so you don’t have to read with your dictionary by your side. It is how he threads his sentences with short but vivid descriptions that makes his writing stuff of legends.
The feature is about Alex Honold and how he scales up mountains by himself, with no single support. A single slip, a rock falling from above, a broken handhold, and he’d be dead. His story is so captivating to the extent of a documentary “Free Solo” being created about it, which went on to win an Oscar Academy Award! From Tom’s narrative, I was inspired by Alex’s attitude towards life. He talks about always being grilled about whether he fears falling and dying and this is what he says:
“People always ask me about death and fear but that’s kind of missing the point a little bit,” he says. “If I were thinking about death the whole time I was on the wall, I probably wouldn’t climb. It just wouldn’t seem that fun.”
Now, this is the part that struck a chord. Tom asks him what it is like, to be halfway up a cliff, gripping on to life by nothing but pencil-thin holds and the friction from smearing rubber soles on smooth, sheer granite? His response needs a moment of silence.
“One of the sensations that I love about soloing is the feeling of being really big and really small at the same time. Being on a 3,000ft wall makes you feel like this tiny insignificant speck, and if you fell off, you’d be dead, and nothing would actually change — nature doesn’t care. It really puts you in your place; you’re just nothing in the grand scheme of the world. But at the same time, you feel amazing because you’re doing the thing that you do best: you’re at the very limit of your capabilities; you’re the best version of yourself. It’s like — ‘I’m the man, and also I’m nothing’ — concurrently while you’re climbing.”
It left me wondering if I am at the very limit of my capabilities, and my answer? I am far from it, but I can definitely feel myself taking of.
It might be argued that he is quite an outlier though. After questions emerging of whether his brain is simply wired differently, in 2016 he agreed to undergo an MRI scan. When shown a series of scary images, his amygdala, the part of the brain that registers fear, barely fired.
However, it turns out the amount of dedicated practice that he has implored is immense. Which takes us back to our number one point, class. Be very afraid of Success Disease!
Something I am excited about
The idea of doing an international trip with Xena, just the two of us. I am thinking of tagging her along for my Victoria Falls marathon in July but at the same time, I am not sure how the logistics of the morning of the run would play out. It would be fun to have her cheer me on at the starting point but who would watch over her after that? Better yet, what happens when I want to shake a leg at night?
Ability I am working on improving
Public speaking. Thank God for Engage Masterclass because God knows imagining my audience naked has refused to work!