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6 TIPS TO HELP YOU FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED

Getting the job doneMany of us have a difficult time getting to the end of a task or project or even the finish line of an event.

The problem can be that, with the best intentions in the world, plans change, motivation fluctuates and we find ourselves losing interest in even finishing a project.

For me I know it may be symptomatic on an undiagnosed ADHD. But knowing the situation at the beginning really helps. There have been many times when I have started a project only to find a lack of motivation to proceed at some point. The problem is pervasive across the business and athletic environments.

Why do we find ourselves in a position where, we start a project only to find our motivation wanes? Take for example one personal situation… I had registered my first company with my family when I was fifteen years old. It was a printing business in the UK that was based out of my parents garage for the first year or so. Pretty soon we had outgrown that space and looked for another place to run the company. That turned out to be an old brick stables in a Victorian manor house that was owned by my wife’s parents. Complete with moose heads on the wall and stuffed geese piled in some corner we made ourselves the new tenants.

At that time, it was apparent that an education in printing would be useful. The course at the institution I looked at was three years in length and required a short weekly commute to Nottingham in the UK. I soon found a way to come home twice a week to get more of Mum’s home cooking but also to allow me to continue to help run the company on the weekends and Wednesday afternoons. College was initially interesting, there was valuable new information that could assist me in creating a successful  business however, as time wore on my interest in finishing the course waned.

In my mind, I didn’t need the piece of paper that said I had done the course because I did not need to look for a job. The tedious last few months of going from exam to exam were quite frankly boring and just that, tedious.

Thankfully my father had a little more long sighted vision than I did. I broached the subject of just getting on with running the company and leaving college to really get our business moving. After a few minute conversation it became clear to me that the wrong decision was the decision to quit.

So here is what I learned form that lesson as a very young adult.

1.    Finishing is a habit. Don’t break the trend. Start your life by learning to finish your project and don’t let anything distract you from the finish line, otherwise you will be starting a new bad habit.
2.    Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. When ever life becomes a little overwhelming and you want to quit, get back into the routine of putting one foot in front of the other. The action of moving towards your goal is often enough to keep you feeling good because you are making progress.
3.    Create a mental picture of the finish before you get there and treasure it! Often we get distracted by too many things before we get to the finish. Just like me, anxious to get to another project…
4.    Don’t quit without talking to someone along the way. Sometimes we need an outside perspective from a third party just when we think about quitting… don’t quit alone!
5.    Reward yourself along the way. This is important. Sometimes, projects are lengthy, involved and all consuming. Don’t think you can get to the end without some smaller milestones to celebrate along the way. If I am running a marathon, I save myself some yummy food for somewhere between 30km to the end… just at the point where I could do with a little celebration. With some new food inside me, I am ready to tackle that last 10km.
6.    If you can’t finish for yourself, think of another reason. It was clearly important for my Father that I finished. Nowadays, when I tackle an endurance run for charity or a big climb, something that pushes me mentally and physically, I have to think of the young children and families I am trying to help… it is for them that I can get to the finish line, not for me.


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6 TIPS TO GETTING HEALTHY

Getting healthyThis past weekend I had a medical exam. Just a check up. I managed to get straight “A”’s which is a good thing at my age. But it doesn’t come easy. Perhaps some people are born with a genetic code that gives them six-pack ab’s, incredible endurance and super human strength. But that is not me!

I have a six-pack and I keep it well protected with a layer of fat.

When I first started training, several years ago and my coach told me I needed to get in shape, I argued that round was a shape! I also explained my position on the commercial relationship of paying a coach.. should they not be able to go run for me! It shows you where I started from at least.

For many of us, we find it difficult to commit to an exercise program of any description including a new regime of eating healthier.

The problem is compounded by a life style that we refuse to change. yet in reality it can be fixed in a few simple steps:

1.    Get yourself a coach or at least an accountability partner. I know when I made the commitment to train, my coach asked for daily updates of what I had done. This did two things for me. it made me accountable (even if she never read the reports) and it also made me feel less than stellar if I sent in a report that said I missed my training today… you can only send a few of those before you get on the program 100%
2.    Don’t set lofty goals at the beginning. It is hard enough to get started, but if you get started with an objective that doesn’t match your present fitness level, then you have a much bigger reason to fail. Start with smaller objectives that match where you are presently and use them as stepping stones. Aim to go beyond the small goals and re-focus as you cross through that initial point. You will feel much better at the end.
3.    Make diet and exercise a priority. You have a calendar… use it. If someone says, “can you go for a coffee” and you had planned to run, simply explain that you have a meeting at that time and you would be able to meet earlier or later. Do not compromise on your commitment to get healthier.
4.    Find inspiration beyond your own goals. Perhaps you want to get healthier for someone else. If it is someone in your family who needs inspiration from your example or project you are attached to that you could ultimately raise money for… find a bigger reason not to quit when that feeling comes in to your head.
5.    Have fun! This is the biggest mistake most people make. Life becomes too programmed. For me, I like variety. If I do the same thing every week, over and over, I get bored of the routine. When I started, I explained the personality trait to my coach and she simply designed a program that was “fun” for my personality.
6.    Learn to take a break. Every exercise program needs recovery periods to help your body build through recovery. If you are an obsessive/compulsive personality, you may find you overtrain, which can be more damaging than not training!

Interestingly, these same principles can be used in many aspects of your life whether it is business, parenting, leading other people. For many of us, we struggle with time management issues that prevent us from accomplishing our dreams. The above points can help you plan to be healthier and more successful!

This year, I have the biggest physical challenge I have ever decided to undertake, a 650km run in Africa. I will tell you more about that as we launch the project later in the year… for now, I have to go for a run!


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HAPPINESS IS A STATE OF MIND

I have had an amazing couple of weeks. It has been extremely busy and has ended up being somewhat of a social experiment for me.

Two weeks ago I was asked by a friend if I would be interested in helping her put together a video. It was designed to be a “Happy” video and would be shared with the world along with a rapidly growing number of communities who are doing their versions (www.wearehappyfrom.com).

Currently Kelowna is one of two communities in Canada and the only community in Western Canada who have done a video.

It didn’t take any convincing for me to be a part of the project. Finding the time was a challenge, but I had the ability to help my friend in her quest to show the world that Kelowna is indeed “Happy”.

During the filming I commented to my wife that the people (who volunteered their time to be in the video) astounded me with their genuine happiness. There is one clip that I would always hear one of the dancers laughing out loud as I was editing the final product yet that wasn’t in the sound track. I have several hours of footage of people, young and old, laughing, dancing and generally having a good time in the our beautiful city.

Curiously, there was no purpose for the video other than to let people around the world know that we were excited to be a part of Pharrell Williams movement to unite the world in happiness. Nobody is making money, in fact everyone involved has lost money and many of those people cannot afford to do that. Nobody had enough time and had to work additional hours to make up commitments to the employers, university or business. Nobody can win an award. It was just for fun!

I had the chance to get to know some of the dancers and hear their personal stories of who they were and why they were in Kelowna and in some instances the things in their life that were not happy! Those people had some of the biggest smiles on their faces. Their passion for dance was infectious and the pure joy they derived from dancing together was something that I have rarely witnessed. It was very cool.

In some respects it reminded me of going to Africa and visiting a community that had nothing. The people I met had no water, little food, no school and barely a roof over their head. They had no possessions and yet what they freely gave away was a broad beaming smile when I said “Jambo” to them.

I am pleased to say that every person in the video was like that and I have been privileged to make some new friends. We launched the video a few days ago and it has been received very well. It is a popular video on YouTube and is receiving lots of comments. I meet people randomly in Kelowna now who tell me they are having a happy day because they played that “Kelowna Video” a few times before they left their house and danced to it while they prepared for work…. that is cool and I think if you asked my friend Lucy what she intended from the video, that would be it. A chance to bring a little sunshine in to someone’s life.

Then the forum trolls appeared from nowhere again.
They have been absent for some time. But this video pressed their button. It was a happy video. A target. A chance to rain on someone else’s parade.

To put things in to perspective. The article on Castanet received somewhere close to 25,000 views in half a day. Almost as popular as the Dragon’s Den article. Of the 25,000 unique views 30 or 40 people posted comments that were less than positive. In fact some of them were rude, unprofessional, childish and frankly hurtful to anyone who was involved with the video.

Thankfully with that ratio, Kelowna remains a very happy place 24,960/25,000 people seem to think so and the remainder have the option to decide to be happy, because after all happiness is a state of mind!

I have raised my children with the understanding that when they meet someone, or make a comment to someone, they have one of two choices. To make that person feel better about themselves, or to make them feel worse. I am glad they choose to make people feel better about who they are and what they can achieve in this world.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to three classes of Grade 8 students at their Harmony Day program at school. We were talking about various issues and the experience I had had with the Happy video. I explained that some people had decided that Kelowna was a very unhappy place and I asked them how a City could be an unhappy City. They explained to me that Cities cannot be unhappy, only people!

I love it how our teenagers and young adults have a better grasp on life than many other people and yet we have a habit of defaulting to blaming them for our problems!

To anyone who wrote a negative comment about the cast or crew, if you are brave enough to reveal yourself from the anonymity of your comment, you should feel free to call me personally and I can help you understand how your thoughts about the cast and crew that volunteered to make a few people’s lives a little happier are entirely incorrect. My number is 250 859 4893.


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BUSY PEOPLE GET THINGS DONE!

I reflected on the statement as I looked at the teapot where I was about to jam two slices of bread in to a narrow, round, opening. Curious I thought. Why am I doing that I wondered? Then I peered in to the crumb covered abyss in the depths of my toaster to see two Tetley® tea bags resting on the bottom heading for their imminent fiery death.

Maybe busy people just get tired.

The second statement is probably more accurate in reality. Yes, sure, busy people do get things done, but there is a time when we all need to recharge our batteries.

I have a few friends who are discussing the merits of saying YES more. I have lived that life I think. I have lived it to the point where I am expert at toasting tea bags. Of course, it is always possible that it may also be the signs of early dementia.

Because I have said YES so much, I have very few regrets, in fact only one. Many years ago as a young sixteen year old athlete, I was offered a chance to train with the British Olympic Fencing Team. I turned it down in order to play Jazz Guitar in an amazing band in the UK. Now, the olympics are on TV again and I always wonder how I might have done if I had followed that path.

I think our Olympic athletes and coaching staff may occasionally put their tea bags in toasters too. They have been busy preparing for the event of their lives. They said YES. However, their days are so well planned and they focus completely on what will help them progress that they are more productive in their lives than most. In fact, in my former home town of Canmore, the Olympic athletes would typically excel in their school work even though they were absent much of the time.

I think we can redefine the statement at the heading of this article though to Productive People get things done. I have been busy, my whole life. I have worked on multiple projects, failed at many and succeeded at some. But I have also witnessed unproductive busy people.

In a world full of distractions, it is important to get a grip on what is Important to you and learn to say no to what is simply urgent. It may be urgent to check your Facebook profiles because there was a really cool conversation or post from some friends, but is it important? I had a friend several years ago who framed the discussion this way. “With every decision you make, ask yourself if it will matter five years from now? If the answer is YES, then it is probably an important decision, rather than an urgent decision.

Thinking about that question throughout your day will likely prevent you from setting fire to tea bags. In reality the most important decisions in our lives are the ones that “matter five years from now” – the rest simply make us busy and often prevent us from getting things done.


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EMBRACING THE FREEDOM TO LOSE

Winning attitudesHave you ever been afraid to lose or fail at something?

In the end, that fear may have prevented you form actually starting. For many people we inadvertently shelter our children from the potential of losing. For instance, we may say, “don’t do that, you may get hurt?” referring to participation in a sports team. Wise advice? Maybe not.

I have experienced more than a few opportunities that I bowed away from because I felt I couldn’t do well. In reality I was preventing myself from learning how to succeed.

As a young parent with inquisitive children I recall talking to them about free-enterprise. Talking about the fact that a country that embraces free enterprise allows you not only to succeed, but also to fail. More protected states at the time did not embrace free enterprise and in fact, prevented you theoretically from failing as well as succeeding.

The same is true in sports as it is in business. We are living that example right now. The eternal debate that comes around every couple of years with the Olympics is whether we should put pressure on our athletes to succeed? Sure we should. We are investing money in their success both at the corporate level and at the government level. But rest assured the pressure we put on those athletes will never exceed the pressure they put on themselves to perform. There are a few occasions when I have sat on the hood of my car, choked, tears in my eyes wondering why I crashed or why I had the misfortune to break down in a race.

Part of their training during their first few Olympic experiences is to learn to embrace failure and analyse it. Losing is not a bad thing, what you do with the experience of losing determines your success or failure from there.

I read an intriguing article about former F1 driver Robert Kubica last week. Kubica has always had a passion for rally driving but this year he has committed to a world rally championship program. The press however, has been criticising him for going off the road in almost every rally and not finishing. Their suggestion was to slow down. Not unlike the parent that suggests we don’t want to get hurt.

Kubica’s response was fascinating. “I am not supposed to slow down. I learn nothing from driving slowly. You cannot learn to drive fast by driving slowly”. He added that in order to drive quickly he must experience driving quickly and all the challenges that come with that. You see tire technology today is designed to “turn on” at certain temperatures that come from driving with a certain amount of aggression. Kubica’s theory that he has to explore the fringes of his limits to get better is absolutely correct.

So it is with business, personal development, sports etc. To improve we need to leave that comfort zone behind and explore the fringes of our personal, athletic and business abilities.

We all have the freedom to fail but how many of us truly embrace that opportunity. Only a small handful in reality but that fringe is truly where I have experienced living if only for brief moments in time.

Every Olympic athlete striving to win a medal for themselves and Canada is living on that edge. Lets celebrate their accomplishments both wins and losses because they are well aware of the need to embrace the loss and learn from it. Go Canada Go.


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PREPARING FOR THE BIG WIN

WinningThis time last week the biggest search phrase on Google was “Powerball”.

I thought it was perhaps a new App for the iGalaxy or SamPhone, but apparently not. It is in fact a US based lottery not dissimilar to our Lotto 649.

Obviously a dream is a powerful thing. Something that motivates into action, including searching on Google to see what the perhaps unfortunate winner of the Powerball Lottery, who was based in California, is going to do with his or her $425 Million.

It is the largest jackpot in US history. Quite a sum of money, yet in reality, the chances of that person actually having a life changing experience is slim to none.

It may be hard enough to buy the “winning” ticket if you understand that the odds are somewhat against you. But it turns out that the odds of even holding onto that money as a lottery winner, let alone growing a family fund with it, are also – slim to none.

An article in Money.co.uk profiles 10 winners of large sums who couldn’t handle the change in lifestyle with much grace at all! Here are a couple of examples:

In 1988 William “Bud” Post won $16.2MM. A sum which would be much larger in today’s economy with inflation. His personal description of the experience was “a nightmare” and he wished it had never happened. His former girlfriend sued him claiming she was entitled to a vast amount of his new riches and his brother hired a hitman so that he could inherit the winnings. Ultimately, he made so many bad choices that within a year he was $1MM in debt and living on Social Security.

In 1993, Janite Lee won $18 Million. Apparently Janite was inclined to be generous, not a bad thing generally. However, in her case, it took 8 years before she filed for bankruptcy after giving more than enough away.

Another Powerball winner, Jack Whittaker, won $314.9 million. After multiple arrests, lawsuits, broken relationships and even death, his wife at the time said she wished she had tore the ticket up!   So why do we have a fascination with the overnight success that lotteries provide. Because we like dreaming. Dreams are certainly powerful. But they can help us rationalize away the fact that the opportunity to win is so small, it literally is like paying a fools tax to buy the ticket.   The question though,  “what would you do with $435 Million” is an amazing one. Think of the answers you could give. Think more about how it completely magnifies your character!

Money is inherently inert. It cannot change us, it cannot do anything. It simply sits in a big pile in your bank account and does absolutely nothing until you tell it to. So does money change us, or are our characters magnified with the gift of such a large amount of cash?

The choices we make with that money are what can change us. But the sheer magnitude of suddenly having access to that amount of cash is overwhelming for many people. It is so big relative to where many of us exist that it provides an opportunity to think without boundaries. But are we ready for that?

If you were interviewed for the job as the CEO of a company that was worth $425 million, how would you fare? If you feel you are not prepared for that or that you perhaps could not succeed at the job interview, then be very careful! Maybe you don’t want to buy the ticket in the first place. If you choose to buy the ticket, remember that the Board of Directors of that $435 Million company goes through a very lengthy and costly process simply to identify the CEO who they trust with their asset. Perhaps that free advice that all your friends suddenly want to give you isn’t so good after all!   The problem lies in the “apprenticeship” we undertake to handle that money. What opportunity did any of these people have to learn how to responsibly manage that money? None is the likely answer and then every parasite with an ounce of free advice came crawling out of the woodwork as soon as the money landed.

It is easy to see how these mammoth amounts of money can be re-distributed in a hurry.

What is sure today though is that the dream of winning is as big as it ever was according to Google. But perhaps that dream is more motivational than the nightmare of having won! At least according to many previous winners.

To book Mark Jennings-Bates to speak at your next meeting, contact him at mark@markjenningsbates.com


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ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Steph JeavonsWhen my wife and I started our charity several years ago quite a few people had deep conversations with us about whether we could make a difference.   Surely the lack of safe water in the world was such a massive challenge that two people with a vision would never make much of an impact.

Well, one person with a vision can change the world. It has happened many times before us. We were two dummies that figured we could be a catalyst for a small amount of change.

The cool thing is that because of that decision, many people are now choosing to make a difference also. We knew we needed help. Our vision was to reduce poverty in the world by providing safe water, sustenance, education, shelter and food to families around the world. Have we achieved that goal? Not yet.

One of the questions we were asked was, “Could we really provide safe water to all the people who needed it?” The assumption was that if we couldn’t why would we start. My wife answered that question very eloquently. She indicated that she may not have a vision big enough to eradicate the global problem. She even felt that if she picked one country and focused on that she probably couldn’t do it. Frankly, she was even shy about committing to solving the problem in a region in a country. She did feel though that she could impact a community.

Her default answer then became, “I know I can make a difference in the person’s life that we give safe water to and that matters to me.” You see, we can simply turn a blind eye to the issues the world is struggling with or we can decide that on our own – we can make a difference.

So many people have stepped up to the plate to help us, it is humbling.

In a few days time, on March 22nd, it is the UN World Water Day. As a Charity, we can be proud that we have made a small difference. As an individual, I can re-commit to making a larger difference.

One young lady who is making a big difference in the world is Steph Jeavons. In a few day’s time, she leaves the UK to ride a “solo round the world” motorbike trip. A very brave endeavour. Steph has inspired many people by her commitment to taking a journey through sometimes dangerous countries so that she can make a difference.

Because of Steph, we wake up each morning to see new donations from her global supporters, people who are inspired to live vicariously through her trip.    Follow her on her travels at her blog site: https://www.facebook.com/OneWomanOneMotorbikeOneWorld

In the meantime, if you are inspired to see what our charity, Rally4Life is doing, check out the video for World Water Day.   http://www.viewbix.com/v/Please-help-us-save-children-s-lives/14bf5dad-6c55-47bc-85f8-adbc882676ab


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KEEPING A CLEAR FOCUS ON THE FUTURE.

Manage fearMany times when we are gripped by fear it can be one of two mental challenges that we can learn to overcome.

The fear is completely imaginary.

In this situation there may be no factual evidence that there is a problem that we should be afraid of yet we react physically as if there is. Our mind has complete control over our body. It starts producing excess adrenaline, increases our heart rate, makes us more vigilant. In reality, the sound of a mouse rustling through the bushes can create the reaction.

The symptoms of a fight or flight type of fear may have arisen because we believe we “may”, “possibly”, “perhaps” be in bear country!

We never saw a bear, heard a bear or even know if a bear is in the area, but our body has just produced all of the chemicals and psychological responses it would if we had witnessed an aggressive bear.

I know that is an extreme analogy but this happens every day in our life. We freeze in moments that are driven by a mental picture of a perceived problem not a real problem.

We are able to overcome these types of fear by practicing taking control of our mind. It is no different to a persons fear of flying. The fear comes from the fact that you may crash when you fly in an aircraft. Statistically however, you are 5 times more likely to die in a bus or a train crash or 7 times more likely to die in a car crash. The same person that fears flying, likely has a driving license and drives to and from work every day making the fear irrational. Programming our mind to understand that facts are more important than imagination goes a long way towards helping you cope with fear.

We make the problem larger than it really is!

In my keynote presentations I talk about this from the perspective of focussing on the future. If we hold a pen up 2 feet in front of our eyes and focus on the pen, it seems pretty large in context with our view. If we now focus on the background the pen almost disappears. The same is true with our challenges. A focus on the future allows us to keep moving forward while exerting pressure on the problem that confounded us initially.

I have used this technique many time in my adventures with great success.

If you want to find out more about some of the things that have gone wrong on my adventures, you can read my book which was inspired by this column.

The Accidental Journey – Living on the Edge is free on Amazon for the next two days. Simply log in to amazon search for mark jennings-bates and get yourself a free copy.

Mark is a Keynote Speaker, Trainer and Adventurer. To enquire about a speaking engagement or to sign up for one of his free courses, visit www.markjenningsbates.com


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LEARN TO FLIRT WITH THE EDGE

test your limitsWith all of the adventure activities I have done and still do, I wonder sometimes if the edge still exists.

The systematic approach to learning a new adventure or extreme activity combined with the repetition of going to “the edge” to improve can sometimes almost dull the senses. In the technology industry the leading edge is referred to as the bleeding edge because of the failures along the way. But revisiting the terrain stops the bleeding.   For many of us however, we simply stay well inside the comfort zone and dream of adventure.   

Sometimes we have to shake off an “it is not for me” attitude and learn to get a little uncomfortable to improve at the task, whether for business, sports or relationship.   Several years ago I was training for the Dakar rally, and together with my co-driver, Mick Extance, Britain’s top Dakar entrant, I ventured off to Morocco to ride the sand dunes. 

In terms of flirting with the edge I have always learned to trust the person who I am being mentored by. In this instance we were on motorbikes. I had never spent a huge amount of time on motorbikes and actually raced cars. In the Dakar, Mick was going to be my co-driver. So now was the time to learn about his sport. As Britain’s top Dakar rider he had finished the Dakar 7 times and placed in the top 25.  

The first real day off road we were in the Atlas mountains and had just finished breakfast when Mick suggested we go for a short ride into a nearby lake. It was a dirt trail, would only takes us 15-20 minutes and allow us to warm up off-road.  

At the trail head, Mick announced he wanted no accidents. There was to be no racing. We had taken a group with us at the same time to give a few other people a similar experience. We were to ride comfortably and safely. I decided I would “follow the leader”. Believing I could do whatever he did if I stayed close enough to watch. Of course, he would do as he said, and not race!  

As Mick took off, there was an initial gap and then I decided I would stay as close as possible. If Mick went over a steep drop, then I was committed and on his rear wheel. I have never been so uncomfortable in my life. What my bike did that day, I had no idea bikes could do! We flew past long lines of tourists in a convoy of Land Cruisers, I had no time to take in the scenery, it was whizzing by at an alarming rate!  

Finally we arrived at a lake. I pulled up next to Mick, took my helmet off, sweat running down my forehead, arms groaning from the amount of blood pushed in to my forearms and said, “I thought you said no racing!” A big grin came across his face as he exclaimed that “You did alright there mate.” Then, I suddenly realized I could not hear any other motorbikes. We had left the rest behind and I had suddenly learned a lot about riding dirt bikes.  

As the group assembled we took a short rest and rode our bikes back at the same pace. This time the pack was a little closer together but Mick and myself remained comfortable at the front although I was definitely more ragged with my riding style.  

When we arrived at the trail head, we realized that the expedition photographer and his bike were not with us.  

Mick looked at me, nodded back at the direction we just came from and off we went again at full tilt, this time looking over every steep drop and in deep ditches in case he had come off his bike. We returned half an hour later after a pretty thorough search to hear our photographer was well and had returned to the roadside Auberge that we had eaten at.  

My “edge” was firmly established that morning. My arms were so tired after just a few hours of riding and I knew that we had two 9,000’ passes to cross later today. Mick also knew he could push me and I would respond.

Later in the day I took a couple of tumbles off the bike. I was truly riding on the edge of my own personal abilities, but I was loving it. I was finding out so much about bike control, about tire grip, braking points. I could have decided to sit at the back and enjoy the scenery, which, for many people is the experience they are looking for. For me, I wanted to find out how to ride a bike fast and compete in the Sahara in a tough desert race. What I learned here could easily be translated to a car.   Learning to “flirt with the edge” allows us to educate ourselves, innovate new technology and inventions and push the limits of our endurance.  

Give it a try. In the next few days decide to flirt with your edge and see what you can take away from the experience! Whether you want to try a new activity, set a personal best in your sport or plan a new business, just take the first step,make a commitment and learn to visit the edge of your comfort zone once in a while.    

Mark is a Keynote Speaker, Trainer and Adventurer. To enquire about a speaking engagement or to sign up for one of his free courses, visit www.markjenningsbates.com  


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THE SMALL THINGS THAT TRIP US UP ALONG THE WAY

Overcoming fearAs we learn to overcome fears and use the techniques I have presented in the previous few articles, there are still obstacles which seem to conspire to prevent us from achieving our goals.  

I have been talking about my 2014 project which is to run 650 kms in Africa in October. I started programmed training last week. Was I nervous? Yes. Do I question my ability? Yes. Can I do it? Why not… other people have.   Photo: Contributed My attitude has, and always will be to focus on the job at hand, but true to form, immediately out of the gate I get an obstacle – a pretty serious one. Last week I went for a run and felt my Achilles tighten up more than normal. I had given myself a mild repetitive strain injury it appeared. I slowed down, nursed it a little and carried on.   In the back of my mind, I thought about last summer, when I struggled all summer long with an incredibly painful heel with a tendonosis/tendonitis type of injury. I was worried that I would struggle to train let alone do the run. (Note: please seek professional help when you injure yourself in any type of physical exercise!!!) 

As is normal, I set my sight on the finish line, slowed down my pace, adjusted my running style to reduce the aggravation and then ran a few more 9-12 km runs. I could feel the injury but it felt in control.   Then yesterday I went for a run with some friends and we ended up doing a sprint at the end of the run. I should never have done it but my competitive side got the better of me and sure enough I made the injury much, much worse. I could hardly walk all day long. The injury site was incredibly sensitive and I could not walk on my toes so I limped flat footed.  

Today, I had a training run with the army and now I was really nervous. I had to keep up. What would the group be like. Could I even walk tomorrow? I stretched gently in the evening, negative thoughts running through my head and then finally I went to bed and said, “Tonight my heel will heal.”  

I got out of bed and could not believe that I was walking normally. It was 5:30 AM. The temperature was cold and our instructor showed up, all 6’1” of him! That could only mean one thing – long legs.   

He exclaimed we were going to jog to the gym for some cross fit. How bad could it be? The gym was about 2-3 km away. When he left, all I could do was wonder how long I could go at his pace! He was flying. I quickly calculated how far I could run with a very painful heel and believed I could make it to the gym no matter what.   

Well I did. I made it back again too, and to boot, much younger people than me were dropping off the back not able to keep up the pace. My heel was fine!   It all goes back to a saying I heard from Ultra-marathoner Ray Zahab. Ninety percent of the struggle is mental, the other 10% is in your head. He is right. I could have quit so many times. Here I am 15 hours after that run, looking forward to another one tomorrow and accomplishing my goal of going the distance in Africa. 

Keep your focus on the future!