Opportunity cost

Some things you do because you have to. Some things you do because you want to. Some things you do just because you can.
Memorial Day, now that I’m old enough to understand it’s not just a holiday where you BBQ and wave flags around if you are so inclined, is partly about that realisation and appreciation. You might think your life sucks. Millions of people would kill for your life.
I might whine because I keep getting injured and am slow to heal when it’s, you know, a major muscle group and I’m damn lucky I didn’t slip a disk or snap my spine in half. But then again, a lot of people aren’t even as lucky to be alive and in reasonably good health and worried about such things as not being able to work on some weaknesses because I’m still too injured.
Ennui is hectic huh?
The week got off to a bad start when my body literally prevented me from doing the workout that I wanted to do. That or it was the cold, which prevented me from warming up even after running ONE MILE. It’s not supposed to be THAT DAMN COLD on Memorial Day, damn it. Well, the good news is I was relatively fresh for the workout that evening …. That somehow wound up hurting my back. I blame the handstand pushups.
Luckily the work week has, so far, been better as I prepare for the massive onslaught of North American summer interns, and discussing a potential collaboration with a Toronto-based consulting firm. My Skype account has been busy.
The cat import drama continues. One of those Catch-22 situations: the South African regulations allow cats in the cabin, if the airline allows it. No airlines allow it (well, none of the ones I called at least), because they claim the South African regulations don’t allow it. Then you try and call to book an airline ticket and are told you must contact the cargo department, and the number you are given is actually the lost & found at Cape Town international airport, who tell you to call the same main reservations line that just referred you there. It’s like chasing your tail. No pun intended. I think I may have finally reached a breakthrough, though. What an utterly crazy situation.
Almost as hilarious as the mailing address for SARS (South African Revenue Service). And now, as it turns out, a whole bunch of us in the office don’t have South African taxpayer IDs. Including at least one of the South Africans. This isn’t like a Social Security number, apparently. So now we all have to go wait in a queue that apparently takes half a day to get through. Well, there’s safety in numbers I suppose. And now that I think of it, I bet my car registration expires at the end of the month. This is what happens in a world without automatic email reminders from the RMV!
I didn’t feel like I accomplished much last week until I looked at my to-do list and I’d actually gotten a decent amount done. Perception and reality don’t always match, hey. Case in point, I got the most beautiful email from our ex-intern Nicole, who I thought was a real rock star. Smart, diligent, with good instincts. Didn’t always necessarily trust herself enough but that comes with time. And, she was our HR intern which is not an area that I have any interest whatsoever …. I find it absolutely dreadful, I’ll be honest. Here is what she said:
‘I can only hope that whoever my next boss may be, is as awesome and understanding as you are…and maybe just a little less intimidating 🙂

But seriously, if it wasn’t for you I would have ended up being a nameless paper pusher in some huge Corp, stuck with menial tasks nobody wanted. You were always so sure that I was capable of doing anything, for some reason, which eventually made me believe it too. That’s the main thing I will remember about you.’

And here I was putting her in charge of stuff that I knew she was capable of and I had no interest in. I had NO IDEA that I was empowering her in this way. And lest we think this is an ego trip, just the same as I’m sure I disempower other people, in other ways, all the time … and they never tell me that, either. Sometimes you can pick up on it, most of the time you are moving too fast to notice. Well people are always easier with complements than with constructive criticism, huh? Happy to criticize behind your back of course, but to your face not so much.
I personally do try to tell people when I think they are doing a good job, or when I’m just feeling thankful. But then I’m not the best at giving constructive criticism myself, probably because most people don’t necessarily want it, or aren’t ready for it, or it’s hard to catch them in the right mood. Like I was telling Jeff the other day: you really can’t control what other people are going to do. The hilarious thing was that someone walked right in front of my car just as I said that. Not kidding.
But choices: one of the best things Ed Boudrot ever taught me was that concept of a ‘to don’t’ list. You have to pick and choose the options you are going to leave on the table. You know, I rather like trail running. But I’m never going to be supremely good at it, firstly, and secondly, becoming good at it would actually be counterproductive to my current primary sport. These are some of the reasons I chose only to run a few of the races last summer. Underwater hockey sounds like a lot of fun. So, for that matter, does 100m hurdles, although the latter conjures up all sorts of images of all the various things that could go wrong …. hehe. But to be good at either of those things you need to dedicate a lot of time to technique, and every hour I spend doing that is an hour I’m not spending on something else.
And here’s the irony: one of the bits of CrossFit dogma is that we should regularly learn and play new sports. But who is that talking to? The hobbyist or the competitor? Well, I’m figuring out now what I do and don’t want to do, and more importantly, WHY.
It’s also a funny state to be in to know enough to be dangerous. They say doctors make the worst patients. I would say the same is true in a lot of things: business people don’t necessarily like consultants because they may have a different opinion. There’s a reason why even the best coaches won’t necessarily work well with all athletes. Sometimes personalities clash. There definitely has to be respect or all these relationships will be more difficult than they should be.
But geez it’s hard to know! How do you know when to trust and when you should trust the expert and when you might actually know better than the supposed expert? Is Rudy Neilson right when he says that “If the program is comprehensive, directed, and well planned, and the athlete is already fairly competent, there is almost never a need for ‘individualized’ programming.”? Or is one of the top sprint coaches in the Western Province, who coaches internationally-competitive athletes, correct when he says that “Athletes don’t all follow the same training program because their circumstances are different.”?
OK yes, I agree with the “The reason those 15 qualified and you didn’t, while using the same program, is because they move better than you. They are more efficient, produce more force, understand pacing better, recover better, and generally get more out of their bodies than most humans. The fact is, if you move like shit, you better get someone to fix you.” part of Neilson’s daily-rant-du-jour. Funny. And obviously if you’re not already ‘fairly competent’ better work to get there!
I don’t really like being told what I can and can’t do. I think I have a pretty realistic idea of what I can and can’t do, and other opinions are interesting but irrelevant. However, I do appreciate a straight shooter, and even a mentor who can help me where I most need help. Might be skill, or mental coaching. There is nothing quite as great as the beginning of a relationship with a new teacher, where you absorb the knowledge they give you before you run up against the limitations of their own knowledge and/or ability to teach.
My mother once told me that I don’t like learning, I like knowing. As a broad statement it’s largely true. I hate being completely inept at things, or when I keep trying and trying and trying and never get something. I like that feeling of being proficient, of KNOWING, of successfully DOING. Whether that’s a butterfly pullup or a market research survey or a soufflé, it’s a good feeling. But actually, I also like learning, tweaking, correcting. That feeling of finally ‘getting’ a kipping handstand pushup or a well-executed squat clean (as opposed to the ones where I land on my toes or nearly choke myself), those are beautiful things.
So now … I know what I want. What remains is to figure out whether I can do it.
  • “I didn’t say they were actually assembling guns. I just said it looked like they were.” – Ellie
  • “Toughen up, Princess!” – Jaco
  • “It’s my true wish that no one would refer to me as ‘crazy psycho Anton.’” – Anton
  • “He’s coloured. Does that count? Does coloured count as black?” – Ellie (gotta love the things BEE makes you say!)
  • “You must not get your heart broken very often.” – Zaheer (his evidence? My professed infrequency of ice cream consumption)


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