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Don't focus on perfectionWhen I was at school I never had the time to do exams. I would show up, run through the questions and leave early… I hated sitting and staring at the paper trying to figure out if I had answered correctly, much less perfectly! I remember taking home report cards that almost without exception said “If Mark applied himself and slowed down he could be “really” good at this subject. He is always keen to answer in class, but needs to think more!” I had proven myself a “do-er” a Jack of all trades, yet a master of none, and continue to by living a life of imperfection.If I thought about the title I have used here, I would probably get confused and perhaps ADHD is a partial explanation for why I believe imperfection trumps perfection almost every time. You see, thinking is often overrated I believe, and besides, I am impatient and I prefer doing. I am not a very good spectator. I like to cheer people on as much as the next person, but in doing so I get excited enough to ask the question “why am I not I doing what they are doing”? There is your answer as to how I get involved in most things. I am not terribly good at any of them but I do get to do quite a few things along the way and occasionally put another plaque in a box somewhere for getting as close to perfection as I may ever get!

You probably know enough about me now to consider me crazy. Hang on a minute though, I am not saying I don’t think about or prepare for anything. As an adventurer, it is actually my objective to stay alive, otherwise I can’t be much help to the people whose lives I am trying to save. I am simply saying that if I sat down and thought about every project as much as a perfectionist would claim to, I would never actually get started at anything. I do train for events and to be quite frank, I push myself more than I ever used to think I could, thanks to the inspiration of supporters like Leanne Manlove at Pinnacle Elite Athlete in Kelowna.

I don’t believe life is about perfection. Don’t get me wrong, it is about a journey of improvement, moving towards a target that is closer to perfection. That is how we solve problems by moving closer to getting a perfect solution, but if we were waiting until we found the perfect solution we would still be at the beginning. The Wright Brothers and anyone before them who tried to defy gravity only got it partially correct, but if they had not taken that first brave step, where would Richard Branson be today (probably still extremely wealthy and successful actually!).

In November, a group of people are coming with me to Guatemala. Far from perfectionists, this group of people has selflessly made a decision to put up some money, dedicate some time and do something they have never done before… run 25km to help the children at Casa Esperanza. Wow, I am so humbled. I have the privilege of running with people like my son, Matt, who has never run before and to be honest has been struggling to find a rhythm when he does run; far from perfect, but he keeps coming back to hone his craft temporarily. You see, Matt’s goal is not to be a “perfect” runner at all, in fact it is not to be a runner, if he survives 25km he will be excited. He is doing it because he wants to help the children in Guatemala.

John and Janet Jansen, good friends of mine, also decided to Run4Life! In fact, they became so excited about the project that they challenged one of the founders of the Casa Esperanza, Kim Weiler, to run 25km also. He agreed, and now, with a few other people in the mix we have 10 runners, running a total of 500km to help the children of Guatemala. If we had all wanted to be “perfect runners” then nobody would be going and Run4Life would not exist.

Life is not about being perfect, it is about moving forward, about gaining experience and learning how to get better, it is not about getting better before you do something. I am also told that I must be passionate about running to want to do a 100km race! Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth. Running is a means to an end for me. It is probably a sport I enjoy less than anything else I do, but it pushes me mentally and the results are a level of fitness that I enjoy. Running and the associated endurance training prepares me for other adventures but I am not passionate about it.

I don’t believe you need to be passionate about an activity to do it well, I believe you have to be passionate about why you do it! There have been many books written on the subject of performance and dedication and one I enjoy specifically is Maxwell Maltz’s The Magic of Thinking Big. Early on in the book he talks about a trial between two groups of people competing against each other trying to get a basketball into a regulation hoop. The first group can practice as much as they want and the second group are not allowed to touch a ball but are trained to mentally visualise themselves throwing the ball into the hoop. Guess who won? I won’t spoil it, it is a good book, but you get the point hopefully.

Our Run4Life team is excited to be doing something to make a difference in the lives of children in Guatemala and I am completely humbled and inspired by their spirit and dedication, it is enough to help get me to the end of a 100km run! Over the next few weeks, I will introduce you to the team at the charity website, www.Rally4Life.com, but in the meantime, if you would like to support their efforts, you can donate through Fundrazr below…

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