Someone once shared with me the story about a woman who had long been a triathlete. She did all the things a triathlete would do: she trained diligently every day (often in the early morning), she traveled to and entered several races every year, she tracked her progress and adjusted things as needed, read magazines, bought all the clothes, had the sticker on her car, and on and on. It was a big part of her life. Being a triathlete was her thing! She WAS a triathlete! She told people she loved it. And through all that she indeed did quite well at it.
One day though, doing the kind of philosophical work that unconceals our barriers and blind spots, she saw for herself what had her be so ambitious and so single-minded when it came to triathlons. Many, many years ago, through circumstances that involved her father, she had made a decision: “I will be a triathlete, and I will crush it.” She also remembered that soon thereafter is when she began training, and how quickly it grew to the prominent (and priority) place it now held in her life. How all encompassing it had become.
And, no doubt, that decision gave her drive, it gave her tenacity, and it pushed her onward when things were tough, whether in training, on the field, or in other areas of her life. It was motivation, and, well, it motivated, always moving things forward as a powerful force in her life that helped her achieve a lot of results she liked.
But it gave her no freedom. It wasn’t a possibility, it was a position, quickly forged into her identity with all the rigidness and protection that entailed. She wasn’t in it for herself. It may have originated from an initial desire, yes, but it became about her father, about those circumstances, about the world, and all about something that happened in her past. Everything she did in that area came with a big dose of “in order to”, an ulterior (albeit hidden) motive.
And so, even though she was successful, there was little fulfillment in it all.
Years later, sitting in that workshop, the memory of that decision vivid. But in that moment of clarity and insight, she put aside her decision. She let it go, and in so doing, a clearing was created, inside of which a choice arose: to swim/bike/run, or not to swim/bike/run.
She chose to be a triathlete.
Now, it may seem like there’s no switch there, or that it was the easy choice, but it was so much more than that. Because for first time she, authentically, from a place of freedom, was choosing to be a triathlete. In a way that was totally in line with who she wanted to be. And inside of that choice, something amazing happened. For the first time she began to enjoy the training, the competitions, and the whole world of being a triathlete both to a level that she never knew was possible, and in a way that she hadn’t realized before how much she hadn’t been enjoying it. The lid had been blown off on her experience, and it was awesome.
To the outside observer, it may seem that nothing had changed. But for her, the whole world shifted. She was expressing herself fully through the act of the triathlon. She gained fulfilment, passion, joy, excitement, elation. And, as a sweet, sweet bonus, her performance rocketed to new heights almost instantly. Unbridled, she soared, in both meanings of the word.
Mindfulness, ontological digging, and transformation are wonderful for those areas of our lives where something isn’t working or isn’t working as well as we’d like to. But the impact they can have on those areas of life that are already going great can be even more exciting and amazing. Not to mention definitively surprising! After all, it was already good, how much better can it be?
Bucketloads better, it turns out.
Ready to reach for the stars? Let’s go…