I whole heartedly agree that being bloody minded is a massive part of performance. For every single athlete, a moment where they choose to do, or try something, that is difficult, is a daily occurrence. I think it can be transferred to daily life, for sure. Where day to day routine can be transformed into something exceptional, by that simple decision to do something that is difficult.
It's far too easy to think of yourself as unique, to imagine that your journey is the only one like it. There's such a massive culture of "normal," in our world. It's so easy, in an instant of speaking to someone, to decide if they fit into that box. I don't think that personality is an indicator of whether someone is "normal" or not. The decision, on a daily basis, to do something that might seem like "the long way round", or "uncomfortable", or simply hard, is what develops winning habits. In my opinion.
This is my seventh year of writing this blog, and it's astounding (horrifying) and really nostalgic to read back and see what has changed. I'm writing about what makes an exceptional athlete, because it's far too easy to lose sight of it. In a world that is essentially business - you have to perform to a certain degree, to gain reward and sustainability - words like "talent" and "young" get thrown around without proper thought. Athlete is a cool word, because it has always signified someone exceptional at what they do. Remembering that, I've met thousands of athletes. People who will pursue something difficult, tirelessly. More importantly, people who pursue something difficult, despite being tired. Finding that energy, to keep doing something even though it's hard. I love that about sport, and I love that about people.
So starting 2020, I thought I'd share how I want to keep going. I got told by a coach years ago, to not change. Don't change how I am, don't try and get rid of the "bad" parts of my personality. Somehow, irrevocably, that gave me the freedom to let go of some of those parts anyway. When you stop thinking about what you're not, it becomes a lot easier to focus on getting where you want to be. Which is interesting, because I think part of the human condition is never quite being where we want. But learning to be content with where we are, whilst continuing to do those things that are normally "difficult". That's what I want to do. I want to step up, and be bloody minded. To be able to listen, and be empathetic, while feeling strong and certain of my own journey.
I love training with other athletes, because you get to see again and again, people pushing what they're happy to do. There's a special "move" on the Olympic course in London, on a water feature called "Piccadilly". I was training on it a week ago with a friend. My rock-solid impulse on this move (for paddlers; down on the left to high up right) is to use the outside edge of the water feature (we call it a "curl"), on my inside blade (the side of the paddle that is upstream of my body). I know for sure that I can do it that way every single time. My friend's impulse, is always to jump underneath the gate, inside the water feature, for a shorter line into the upstream gate. They're both effective methods; mine is a fraction slower, and takes almost no energy. My friend's way is a little faster, but needs more power to jump.
We both tried each other's signature moves. It was intensely uncomfortable for both of us; I apparently lose all sense of balance and feel for the water as soon as I try to jump inside the feature, and Isak struggled to trust the water to hold his weight on the back. I have to say Isak was more successful in exploring the alternative method than I was, but it was an intense experience for me, because I was choosing over and over again, to do something that was difficult for me.
So I'm happy to say I started this year how I mean to go on; bloody minded, happy to keep failing while I learn to do stuff better. I'm intensely competitive, so failure isn't an easy thing for me anyway. But I hope I keep stepping up, over and over again.