Thursday, April 1, 2010

Growing up, one of my favorite books was CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. I delighted in this tale of a father who was an efficiency expert, and the silly and inventive things he had his twelve children do in the name of efficiency. They listened to records with dialogue in various languages so they could pick up a new tongue. As they fell asleep each night, they glimpsed at the stars of the universe (the glow-in-the dark stickers their Dad had placed on the ceilings of their bedrooms). And no matter what they were doing, they dropped everything and ran to attention when their dad blew a whistle, lining up in age order. A prize was often awarded to the child who showed up first. Time was not to be wasted and learning was everything.

My admiration for efficiency, invention and continuous learning hasn’t paled as I’ve grown older. I spent nearly a decade working at a consulting firm, reveling in the ways that colleagues would come up with to better serve the client. And I was ecstatic when those ways represented less work for us or better yet, someone found an automated solution.

But there was a dark side to my fascination. I was pulled in by the creation of the process, but my interested waned when the process needed to be repeated day in and day out. I won’t forget some feedback I received at a year-end review. It was along these lines:

Colleen is like a butterfly. She gains strength and grows as the project plan comes together, but once things come together and the maintenance phase begins, she tends to flutter away.

Hmmm, fair enough. An honest observation, I thought to myself, as the feedback was shared with me.

So fast forward to current day… Today, I received a message from friend Dusty. I rely on Dusty to help me think in a way that is different from my instinct. I am sure she would agree that she and I have a very different approach to life, but the interesting thing is that we share many of the same goals. And Dusty is efficient as the day is long. So it’s not hard to imagine that studying Dusty’s habits became something I was drawn to doing as our friendship grew.

Dusty is a Teton Valley athlete through and through. She was a downhill mountain biker (crazy sport…talk about gutsy) and she is now a very accomplished ultrarunner and triathlete. She is a trail runner, but in the name of diligence, she will run on her treadmill in her garage even when temperatures drop precipitously low (it is snow country, after all) and the roads have become impassable. And she hates doing that. But she does. Run indoors on a treadmill, that is.

Dusty trains with dedication and efficiency and there are no junk miles. She studies the sport…intently. Today, she had me thinking about an ultrarunner David Goggins, who maintains a blog at:

The post I read today was published by David on Thursday, March 11, 2010 and is entitled GET BACK UP.

David is renowned for his athletic feats. As I read his blog post, I discovered some astonishing things. These revelations included a frank admission that he hates running. And biking and swimming, too, while you’re at it. What???

I was crestfallen. I have always maintained we should PLAY sports. We should find 90% of training to be joyful. We should expect challenge, but we have earned the right by our training dedication to expect some natural things to result from these efforts…including wonderful friendships, lots of laughs and a smile at the end of most work-outs.

But David states his case squarely:

Nine times out of ten, you are alone. Alone in your mind, alone at your desk, alone in your wants and needs. People are not going to understand your goals because they have separate goals. It's not easy to do things alone. You must deviate from the crowd. This is why it is easier to go for a run with people. It's much easier when you know that someone is out there suffering with you. You can't look over and see that when you are suffering alone. But let me tell you... you are alone. You are alone when you cross the finish line, you are alone when you do extra miles, you are alone when you don't get the promotion at work. You are alone. When you can learn to deal with being alone and not depend on the support of others, you become a stronger human being. I have always been alone in the things I've done. You have to expect failure, if you don't when it comes your way, you will not be able to get back up.

David goes on to share that it is choosing the hard way that has gotten him to where he is today.
So where am I going with this all? Dusty and David have unknowingly given me a challenge.

Today, I am choosing the hard way. It goes against my every morsel, my every fiber. I live on creating synergies, combining tasks, adding friends into the mix to get ‘ir done. Not today. Today, I am going it alone.

I am channeling David’s observations and Dusty’s focus and I am giving it a try.

And I hope this post might give you a little food for thought and challenge you to look at something a little differently today.


Tess said...

Right on, Colleen! Go for it!
But know that when you need a friend, you will never be alone...I'm right here for ya!

Dusty said...


Thank you for the kind words! You have influenced me as much or more than I have influenced you, that's for sure! If it weren't for you and your belief in me, I would NEVER have tried an ultra or triathlon!

I wish you success in your challenge of going it alone today. I think you will find peace and enjoyment in it. I know I do the majority of the time!

Always your cheerleader,