A Suit of Armour

Not every day goes as you want it to, but every day is perfect

Chris Walker

A month back, and at the end of a 3 month training cycle, Lotte my partner and I flew to Mooloolaba for an international, ITU, World Cup Triathlon race that was a vital race for Olympic points tally. Pre race she was fine, her coach was flying in the day before and with a beautiful apartment we settled in for the three day pre race warm up. That night, she jogged 5 km just to loosen up a bit and sprained her ankle. Not every day goes as you want it, but every day is perfect. Try telling that to an Olympic hopeful whose chance of getting into the Olympics after 3 years of hard training and sacrifice were pretty much dashed.

But I did say it and I do believe it.

The one magnificent truth that comes from being a student of conscious living, an observer of nature’s univeral laws and with an appetite for radiating inspiration to the world is that there’s two sides to everything. You’ll hear it repeated over and over again from all walks of life, but can we implement it when we really, really need it?

The acid test comes in the challenging times. All reaction, stress, all emotion, all mental illness comes from lopsided perception, or in nature’s language, an out of balance thought. Hence, the red flags are there in our everyday life to help us live consciously. We know when we are weakened by circumstances and vulnerable to making bad decisions, getting ill with lowered immune systems or quarrelling with ourselves: one sided thinking.

What might be astonishing for you to hear is that nature never actually finds balance, but she forever seeks it. Like the human breath, it comes in and goes out and if ever it stops doing so for more than a few minutes, we die. Hence, tides come in and go out, seasons come and go, we laugh and cry, we seek balance, and only for a few seconds, between the in-breath and the out-breath, do we actually come to perfect stillness, balance.

Watch a trapeze artist walking a tight rope. Their stability pole that keeps them on the wire is forever adjusting, and, when we drive a car, micro adjustments keep it straight as against the first drive we ever had when we over steered. The more accomplished we are at something, the more balanced we are as we move form gross adjustments to micro, to super micro adjustments. We become more powerful as we conserve wasted energy through micro adjustments to stay balanced.

So the more time it takes you to see balance, the longer it will take you to recover from a stress, a challenge, a kick, an insult, a disappointment, a hurt: emotion. The longer it takes to see balance the more time you spend making bad decisions, spinning stories, making others angry, reacting, going off course and then the more time you’ll spend in recovery, patching up what never needed to become unstable. The way to live consciously is simply to find the other side to everything.

This however is on the inside….

The outer world runs to a different rhythm. All marketing is lopsided perception, all romance is unbalanced, all kindness is half story and friendships are built on positive thinking. Motivation comes from seeing the positive potential and sales means to present the benefits to outweigh the drawbacks. Theatre and entertainment, sport and teamwork are built on lopsided perceptions.

At first we feel the need to choose a side. Inside at peace by seeking balance, outside at war (success) by focussing on half stories. Going back to that sprained ankle at the Mooloolaba triathlon, Lotte’s hopes for success were smashed, because the ankle was genuinely going to stop her racing well. Her outer self was smashed and emotions took control because her outer self, in triathlon, was more important to her than her inner self. For her, in that moment, they were one and the same.

It’s here that the road divides.

We are not judging that divide, just trying to understand it.

The outer world is driven by goals. Tangible time based goals. Outcomes clear and concrete, dates, times, locations, size and shape. This is powerful stuff and can lead to incredible achievements. Sports people, performers and business’ run on it. X% profit by Y date, or jump over X meters by D date. The downside of this concrete approach is the personal cost and the loss of an amazing asset in performance.

Dreams and visions do not have dates or times or size or shape. They are intrinsic drivers to imagine a world without limits. The inner world does not motivate, it inspires. The difference is huge and can take us way beyond the tangible limits of the physical. Inspiration is when the inner voice speaks louder than the outer, but it cannot speak over the top of or through the noise of the outer. We do, eventually have to choose.

The Olympics is a goal. Racing triathlon is a dream. Winning an event is a goal, achieving a Personal Best is a dream. Making a profit is a goal that motivates, being the best company in your field is a dream and inspires.

Recently the magical 2 hour marathon benchmark was broken by an amazing athlete. In order to do so two things were essential. The motivation of pacemakers to set hard goals for each section of the run and, most importantly, a dream, inspiration in the heart of the runner to go past the physical limits of his own body.

To live with both motivation and inspiration we need visions, dreams and goals. But most importantly, we need to trust that there is more to achievement than pure mechanics. The intangible spirit can take us to places no physical expression can take us.

Ask Steve Jobs, did he build a computer company (that failed 100 times) or have a vision beyond the mechanics and goals of hardware? Ask Usain Bolt, did he want to be the best in each race or run to his best? You can list them, the dreamers always win because when you have a day and sprain your ankle, if you don’t have a dream, it’s over, depression or self doubt win.

Time for your dream board, vision quest?

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