Patience, grasshopper

Two steps forward, one step back. That’s just how this week felt. Had two major wins, one of which I’ve been chasing three months and the other maybe a month but the company has been chasing for … a year? Both of which should have a good short-term impact on revenues, but then of course, once the deal is signed I want it implemented the same day.
Anyone who knows me knows I can be impatient. It’s one of the things I’m really trying to work on, although heaven knows how one goes about working on something like this. You can fool some of the people some of the time. No, I have been lousy about practicing my qigong but as a form of mental discipline and gymnastics when I go to the studio I can focus and fool my instructor. Sometimes.
We’ve been busy gathering some internal data for a while now, that we’ll use to make some very important decisions going forward. Yes, I’ve been wanting this information since before I started. Am I happy that it’s almost ready? Sure. But it’s driving me completely nuts that it’s *nearly there.*
I suppose what this tells you is that I don’t like 95%. If something is worth doing, I like to finish it. I do sometimes give up on things, but not with the end in sight.
And of course, I did really properly learn my lesson at Heart about not spreading myself too thin. I figure out what my top priorities are, and I work on those. I wish I had more capacity and could get more done, but the only way to tick things off the list is to work down the list sequentially. Humans don’t multi-task well, and I’m no exception. But then when I do turn my attention to something, I kind of want everyone else to drop everything they are doing to suit my whims. Which is also not how it works.
Patience, grasshopper. Right?
Someone had this awesome Twitter post this week: being an entrepreneur is about biting off more than you can chew and then trying not to choke. I really know how that feels. I somehow let the stress get to me this week even though I have been sleeping enough. I am really not sure why.
My mother once said something about me that is very true. I was telling her that I loved learning and growing and she called bullshit. She said no: you hate learning. You like knowing. I do kind of like learning but her main point is correct: I do not like the phase of conscious incompetence. I like conscious competence, thank you very much.
I love seeing how the puzzle pieces fit together. The process of finding all the puzzle pieces can be a bit daunting. The homework of sorting them annoys me: I like to get results now, without really putting in the time to do the homework. I want the success without the prior visualisation. Sure, the right mindset will get you far. But maybe not all the way.
So without giving away the secret I recently learned about how to do well at a 2K row, I’ll tell you the problem I have doing a 2K row. Or 100 burpees for time. Anything in that 6-8 minute range where you can’t go flat out but it’s also not an endurance game.
The beginning is easy: You’re using your ATP stores and you may well have adrenaline. The end is easy, because, well, the end is in sight. It’s the middle that sucks. When it starts to hurt and you know you have a long way to go and it’s so easy to slow down …. Just a little bit. For just a little while. In all honesty, I may love Fight Gone Bad because of its mental challenge but there is nothing that kicks my ass more than a 2K row. Except, come to think of it, a 400m run. That is lactic acid hell.
Weird week. Monday I got a PR on Fran (a CrossFit benchmark workout) but didn’t even realise until later it was a PR because I was upset that I thought I should have done better. Not that I was going to go home and cry about it or anything: almost every workout I do, I analyse for improvement. Like later in the week we did 8 minutes to a 1RM power clean which was the first time I’d gone heavy since the injury, which was literally nearly a year ago. And if you think there’s some fear in my head when I go to clean heavy …. Well, you’d be right. So cool, I get to near my PR. But my form falls apart over 90%. Back to the practice arena, which is fine. Honestly, I love Olympic lifting. Of all the skills we practice, I love this one the most. I would do it daily if I could.
Saturday was the first CrossFit Games Open workout. They even have names: 13.1, in this case. Whoever said CrossFitters weren’t nerds. Well, we’re Type A personalities certainly, many of us. 13.1 was actually a combination of last year’s first two workouts: 12.1 was 7 minutes of burpees to a 6” target, and 12.2 was 12 minutes of a snatch ladder: 30 snatches each @20kgs, 34kgs, and 45kgs. 13.1 was as far as you could get in 17 minutes of 40 burpees, 30 @20kgs, 30 burpees, 30 @34kgs, 20 burpees, 30 @45kgs (it went on, but I didn’t get that far!).
So last year I got 104 burpees in 7 minutes and 5 reps into the 45kg part of the snatch ladder, in a combined 19 minutes. This year, I finished 70 burpees and the first 60 snatches in 11:02. But my Olympic lifting form goes haywire when I do it for reps, and my snatch form decided to completely disappear on me on that day, and rather than muscle the weight up and maybe hurt myself I did take it a bit easy but I still managed 13 snatches at the 45kg weight. Good enough for sixth place in Africaas I write this; you have to filter by Region and change from Individual Men to Individual Women to see the ranking for Africa females. I should finish in the top 10 for this workout once all scores are in, I’d imagine.
Of course, one more rep and I would have been in fifth. That’s how it goes. So I had some fun dissecting what did and didn’t go well in that workout. It was decent; like Fran, I’m not crying about it, but a good learning experience. I am laughing a bit that the last lift was literally a muscle snatch. So if I can muscle snatch 45kgs while exhausted imagine what I can snatch when I fix my technique. Not if, when. I’m done with ifs.
But at the end of the day what’s the most important thing? I’m pretty healthy. In the best shape of my life. And happy, at least if I’m not banging my head against a wall.
Well, on the plus side, I did have a huge ‘aha’ moment one morning. I have my best ideas in the morning when I’m getting ready for work. I can be slow on the uptake sometimes. But let’s just say I got more than a laugh out of watching Pirates of Silicon Valley ten years ago or whenever it came out. Not that I’m going to do anything of questionable ethics. Not that I’m implying anything. Or anything.
Oh, Silicon Valley. Now that I work here in tech, I do understand that appeal the place has. I feel like a very remote satellite to the centre of the world, sometimes. But there are advantages to being a remote satellite.
But there is a huge difference between having an idea and seeing it through. This is where most people fail I suppose. This is even where I fail in, say, my execution of my game plan for 13.1. I guess I wasn’t that far off, just spent more time staring at the 45kg bar than actually snatching it! Daydreaming, perhaps. Not that I would ever daydream while at Cape CrossFit. Never …
Moving on: Lance had asked me this week a random question, or maybe not so random. I said I was afraid of X, which I was getting his advice about, and he then asked what was I REALLY afraid of. So I gave an immediate answer: failure. Then I thought about it, and I realised that was actually not complete. I don’t like to stand up in front of people and announce I’m going to do something, or that I want something, and then completely fail. I, like most people, try to manage expectations.
But you know, most failures you can recover from and most people aren’t as bothered by them as you are. Plus, we know in theory that we learn more from our failures than from our successes. I know enough about what sorts of personality trait will not work for me to stay away from certain men. I have had my fingers burned by certain work situations in the past, and now I know what to look for.
Of course you can also learn from successes, and formulas, and theories. That’s what makes Babson such an excellent MBA if I do say so myself. I doubt I could be doing this job now if I didn’t have that education behind me.
I digress. So failure is a little bit scary but really there are few failures that really terrify me because there are few things you can’t recover from. Your marriage fails or you nearly run out of money or your cat gets hit by a car, you deal. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
But there are some things that are harder to bounce back from than others. Your parent dies, that’s probably hard. I wouldn’t know. Your child dies, that’s probably harder. You get injured, it sucks, maybe you even miss a season, that sucks too.
What really scares me? Permanence. Forever. You lose an arm: that’s forever. Sure you figure out how to move forward with life, but that sort of thing scares me. I may have mentioned this before but when I was a child the way that Heaven was described to me scared the living daylights out of me. A place where you’d go after you die and stay there forever. FOREVER! There was even this phrase: ‘world without end.’ I mean sure it beats the hell out of some Sisyphean existence but damn.
I was also thinking in the week about who scares or intimidates me. The Silicon Valley celeb? No, not really. The super rich? Definitely not. I guess the answer is people who seem in a different category from what I can achieve, like super-humans. And why? Because I presume they won’t give me the time of day.
People are people. We all have flaws. You may first meet someone and be amazed by how smart or knowledgeable they are, and you look up to them. But as you get to know them better, you get to see where they do and don’t know what they’re talking about.
We’re pack animals and like to know where we stand in a pecking order. This is why we engage in those oh-so-unsavoury activities of name-dropping and putting other people down to make ourselves feel better. There is a substantive difference between establishing credibility of your connection, or even venting about a particular instance of something and name-dropping and bitching. If you’re the one who hasn’t noticed that someone has changed, you’re the jerk. Pay attention.
I do tend to be a bit dismissive of people. I’ve said it before and I think it’s true. I have a very long fuse and I really like people of all sorts. Sure I tend to prefer the smart, funny ones: but you don’t need to be the sharpest tool in the shed. You just need to be useful. Pull your weight. Don’t be mean. Don’t be unethical. Don’t be really stupid. I was thinking this week of the only two people I can think of my entire career that I still actively dislike. Both of them were rude, arrogant, and dismissive. In other words, they were mean.
I can be dismissive, sure. But I’ll be nice about it. If you’re unethical the gloves come off.
But back to the being intimidated bit: no matter how cool are some of the people I come into contact with, I’m pretty cool too. And so, most likely, are you.
Lance also recently said that if you have the highest EQ (emotional quotient) in the room then you control the conversation. This is often, but not always, true. Sometimes you’re outnumbered by people just on a different wavelength, in a pack mentality. You can only control or influence a conversation when people are actually listening, and you can’t make people listen.
You can’t make people listen. You also can’t motivate people. They must motivate themselves. A sad thing about my current state of affairs is that I love teaching & coaching. But right now there is too much that needs to be done yesterday, and rather than help grow my team I often must just tell them what I want done. I do explain why, but you learn better by figuring it out yourself.
Sometimes, there’s just not time. Every second counts hey. Guessing 13.2 will be something bodyweight/gymnastics-related, so we’ll see just how tough I am then.
One thing I will say about 13.1: it was 17 minutes of beautiful, beautiful peace. When the world stops and you have literally no awareness of who or what is going on around you. Yes, I heard my cheering section. But no, I couldn’t tell you who was in it. Peace.
  • “There’s a lot going on with this bicep here.” – Byron
  • “Can you pass me that sissy thing?” – trainer at Virgin Active (he was referring to some sort of a pad for the bar … lest people’s necks get hurt by a back squat)
  • “I don’t even want to look at this any more.” – Stefan
  • “Judging by the laughs, nothing too serious.” – Adam
  • “I have sent our eyes and ears an email.” – Nadia
  • “It may be new. But it’s certainly not revolutionary.” – Ellie
  • “I’m not known for good timing.” – Doug
  • “Who is this guy?” “This is my Technical Manager.” – Doug & Ellie
  • “I think a lot of people treat their ventures as children.” – Steve
  • “There’s no other boom bar but this boom bar.” – Bronywn
  • “The two are not mutually exclusive.” – Dave
  • “No, he was just talking sh*t. As he does.” – Ellie
  • “You can be paranoid but, Occam’s Razor, right? But then again in his case he has reason to be paranoid.” – Ellie
  • “F*ck these burpees.” “I know, I hate burpees.” “I love burpees. But f*ck these burpees.” – Ellie & Conrad (our prescient coach was having us do 3 sets of 20 burpees to a six inch target for time after 18 minutes of other work … I wasn’t loving it)
  • “Oh, there’s more than that.” – Stefan
  • “I don’t know why I do this. I don’t like doing this!” – JP
  • “At least you know that after 17 minutes of hell, you can still muscle snatch that weight.” – Kerry
  • “It’s amazing what it’s doing for the world.” – Grant
  • “You certainly don’t look like you’re about to hit the bottle.” – Rob 
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