TEDx and Beyond

Sometimes, I frustrate me. I absolutely hate that feeling of mental and physical exhaustion … especially when I know fully well that it’s poor decision-making around sleep and lifestyle that is going to come back to bite me if I’m not careful. What’s the point of all this training after all? Yes, it’s for lifestyle, and yes it’s for fitness, but it’s also to perform well in competition but there’s a hell of a lot more to THAT than just putting in the hours in the gym practicing technique.

Saturday I woke up at some ungodly hour of the morning to drive to Lanseria to fly back to Cape Town. It was the more ungodly because after a girls’ night at Montecasino, I spent far too long on chat before finally going to bed. Adding insult to injury, I accidentally miscalculated how long it would take to get to the airport, but luckily at that time of the morning in Joburg no one really seems to obey the traffic lights much.
I arrived mid-morning at TEDx Cape Town, where my spectacular team were busy saving the day, and keeping the Wi-Fi up and running. An afternoon routing crisis on my core network got me much more upset than it probably should have; yet another reason why sleep deprivation is not a good idea.
For what I was able to see of it, I enjoyed the TEDx. It gave me goosebumps to see my friend Riaan speak, to check the whole thing from the catwalk (best seats in the house), and there was the magical musical performance of Shannon Hope. She had this one line: ‘Just being a grownup is hard. May as well do something that makes you happy.’
She was talking about her own search for passion and meaning in life, which she found in music. Great as long as the music can pay the bills, as she acknowledged. I was having a bit of a hard time with some of this because while it’s true in theory that you can inspire other people, you can’t TRY to inspire them as that’s just disingenuous, and you can be as inspiring as you want but you can’t make people pay attention.
She was saying that you can’t measure your success in dollars and cents. In a way, this is true. In another: this is actually how I WANT to measure myself. Is it a poor reflection on me that I want to play by the established rules of the business world, where power is power and money is money and money is power?
Those are circles I’m comfortable in, and that I like. People have told me I should open a CrossFit gym or some such. No desire. None. I don’t want to measure my success in terms of changing other peoples’ lives. That’s why I could never be a teacher. I want to build things, not people. That’s more important to me than the money, but the money follows.
I will build people too, as such is part of being a manager and a leader, and at the end of the day I do love my people. Skills you can buy; loyalty you cannot. You need both. But I get more pleasure out of building someone who then fulfils a function that I need than in just building people generally. It’s the same as software – the pleasure is in the building blocks.
Back to TEDx. There was also this woman who had come out of the aid space who was talking about the twin devils of pity and contempt for anyone poorer and darker than we, and the arrogance of sitting around presuming to be the ones who could come up with a solution. She went on to say that countless times they must have talked about plans and goals and initiatives …. But not once had they sat down and admitted they were wrong, or they should learn or change or grow. And here I sat, with a sort of smug satisfaction that I didn’t hold people in such contempt (but I suppose I sometimes do), and that at Skyrove we are as quick to talk about things that we are not doing well that should be fixed as we are about our wins (and yet we don’t always fix them, and we do have blind spots).
I guess you can only try to do your best.
But hell, even that is a big ask.
After TEDx, I went to observe a video shoot for my friends at HealthQ, at Black River CrossFit, where I’d hooked them up with the owner. So in a way, I suppose I was almost the godfather of the video. In a moment somewhere between highly embarrassing and highly flattering, it turns out that ‘the talent’ for the video actually recognized me from a CrossFit competition. And he’s actually the semi-famous one.
I act very silly when I’m feeling a bit insecure. I suppose that’s how one can tell: if I’m bragging, I’m probably feeling insecure. If I’m making fun of myself, I’m comfortable. Usually, I’m making fun of myself.
Sunday was another emotional day as I slept in (for like 10 hours!) then got up to have brunch with my gorgeous, intelligent, and gregarious friend Elizabeth who just moved to Cape Town. She asked me what was going on, and I spat out this great long plan. But she got it. She’s smart. And the plan is, at least, coherent.
I’m excited to have her in town.
Then I went down to Misty Cliffs to say a pre-goodbye goodbye to Kerry and her family. It is hard to describe how I feel about this, other than that, in a way it’s a bit hard to accept. She’s been there through my very beginnings in CrossFit, and at Skyrove, and now I’m at a different place with both, and still moving: because, well, what choice does one have?
Someone asked me recently what is the point of the CrossFit training. For once I came out with an honest answer. For now, for right now, it’s to perform as well as possible in competitions. It won’t always be this way. But try and take the competitor out of a competitor. Not gonna happen.
Monday was actually a really bad day. I woke up in the morning to do my normal thing, and it was raining and cold, so I didn’t get to see the sunrise I’ve been accustomed to. Then I did a workout that was called ‘Barnacle Bashing’ but may as well have been called ‘Get on the Rower and Die’ because it ended with a 500m row and so you knew the entire time that you were going to get on that rower … and die.
So after that, how could the day help but get better? Normally this is fine, but I started to feel ill, and that made me very unhappy because I had a big week ahead of me and could not afford to get sick.
Plus, sick means can’t train, and sick means burnout. But hey I had an interesting lunch with a competitor and then spent two hours going over our customer database.
Every day is different, and the difference between a good day and a bad day is between the ears.
  • “I think you and I both need to get more sleep.” – Ellie
  • “I think we like you, Ellie.” – Riaan
  • “I mean it. I don’t say things I don’t mean.” – Riaan
  • “He’s not even breaking a sweat.” “That’s ok. We have baby oil.” – Ellie & video producer
  • “It’s ok. We don’t hate all of them.” – Nicol
  • “Oh! You’re the rocket scientist.” – Ellie (sometimes I’m a bit slow on the uptake)
  • “You were so sharply close I’m stunned.” – Cedric (one day he may stop being surprised)
  • “If you’re going to go to a beer festival in South Africa, how better to do it than with a bakkie full of Namibians?” – Tim
  • “I didn’t give him full access. He just took full access.” – Rudolph 


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