Optimizing Life: Finding Flow through Sprint and Marathon
[vc_column_text pb_margin_bottom="no" pb_border_bottom="no" width="1/1" el_position="first last"] It was an absolute blur.
In a half sprint I glided down the stairs to the skytrain. Coming off of a frantic but energizing day starting in the BuildDirect boardroom at 630AM, I was now racing to Discus practice and then back to gym for a third training session of the day.
As I was dodging oncoming pedestrian traffic I remember passing a stationary man who seemed to be pleasantly handing out newspapers... For a split second time stopped and offered up a small epiphany - I couldn't be at a more polar opposite in my current state.
Time resumed and I leaped to squeeze my 6'6 frame into the closing skytrain doors...
Sprint or Marathon?
In sport we are typically placed in one bucket or the other - you are a ‘sprinter’ or a distance runner - a 'marathoner'.
In the race of life we need both skills.
Somewhere between the slow gruelling grind of the marathon and the blazing intensity of the sprint lies our sweet spot. An energy we can tap into propelling us to our biggest most audacious goals and dreams in life.
This is the ultimate Flow.
The sprint represents the building blocks of your vision.
In these daily sprints you are exposed to the pressures and stresses that force you outside of your comfort zone where the development of skills and capacity exponentially increases.
In these brief bursts of energy we put everything on the line. We sweat, we cry, yell, laugh, smile and ultimately celebrate regardless of outcome - we took another small incremental step forward in the game of life.
The marathon is our path to mountain summit. There is no bigger picture to strive towards. The pace of the marathon is not the challenge - it is a war of attrition - sustaining output day after day, battle after battle, sprint after sprint.
Through countless valley and peaks the marathon is what carries you to the next horizon.
The marathon is about “The Wall” (or what Jerry Rice refers to as "The Hill"). The mental barrier and complete block in your mind insisting you should stop, telling you you NEED TO STOP. The marathon is about smashing through that concrete wall and surviving into the other side.
Gerry Rice and "The Hill"
The Balance. Fluid Flow.
Somewhere in between these two extremes we find a beautiful transient Flow.
A fluid movement that never spikes and never crashes.
Instead it is an oscillation of energy, focus, intensity and passion. Within this flow there are moments of sprint where we are being pushed to our absolute mental, emotional, physical and/or spiritual limit in the moment. There are equally moments of marathon where the capacity to last one more day, fight through one more wall, if only to survive - is all that matters.
The Race is long
In my humble opinion I believe we undershoot our legacy and impact by years, if not decades.
It is exponentially bigger than the issue you are dealing with at work, or the current athletic event your pursuing.
Our compounded potential for impact spans a lifetime.
It’s easy to lose sight of this in the immediacy of hourly meetings, weekly reports and goals, quarterly objectives… The mind quickly becomes lost and agitated.
Our real journey spans years and decades. Not days and months.
Paradoxically, everyday we live counts more than ever.
Every day we live represents the potential for compounded interest in the life we are building. What you learned and overcame while in that sprint 7 days ago has appreciated as a part of your complete self and is playing a role in how you are showing up today.
The same is true of today and of tomorrow.
The time value of Flow
What would your life look like if you spent the next 30 years, 10,950 days, doing the things that you absolutely love. The things which challenge your outermost limits. What does is look like to navigate the many sprints that make up a day and sustain the marathon pace over weeks, months and years? How do you feel when you visualize this state? Mentally? Physically? Emotionally? Spiritually?
Think about this deeply.
What is the story of your lifelong marathon?
Are you currently in that smooth consistent sustainable cadence? One that pushes you to exhaustion but fills you up with the energy.
Imagine where you would be in 30 years if everyday between now and then you danced in a Flow between marathon and sprint.
Now we're talking...
I was finally home - before stepping through the front door I pause to take a deep intentional breath. Reset focus and energy. Time to be a father to O and support Tash and our family as we spend the last few minutes together.
As I flopped lifelessly into bed around 10PM I acknowledged my body, spirit and mind's exhaustion. Then my acknowledgement turned to deep appreciation as I considered the excitement, fear and anticipation to take on the sprints and marathon of the next day.
Bring it on.
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