T-21 Perception is Reality
In the very early days of my career (we’re talking almost ancient times here), I worked with someone who frequently trotted out the phrase that “Perception is Reality”. In that particular context he meant that if everyone thought everything was going well then everything really was going well. I’ve been thinking about this phrase recently in the context of my training – the perception we have about what we’re capable of becomes the reality of what we can achieve. The limits we put on our imagination become the edge of our map.
Or flip that around slightly – our capability is defined only by what we think is possible.
Of course, writing that, reading that and liking that meme on Instagram is one thing. But something I am really valuing in this adventure to Taupo is dawning of a lived conviction, a bone-deep embedded belief that our bodies are infinitely more capable than we think them to be. I think I’ve mentioned before; I expected and embraced that getting to Taupo would be a physical challenge but what I didn’t realise was the quantum of the personal growth and development that I’m experiencing.
It’s kind of interesting being on the other side of the perception fence now. Where previously I thought that people who did Crazy Things like run a marathon, do a full ironman and whatever other daunting physical pursuits they could dream up, had some special attributes that I didn’t. Things like extra special slow twitch muscle cells, abnormally high red blood cell count or a freaky ability to mobilise glycogen. Maybe Mo Farah and Eluid do, but 99.9% of the people achieving their own audacious goals are just normal people who’ve moved their perception and their imagined limits. Sometimes you get to witness this in the people around you. The person who churns out a 10km in 50 minutes at 40 when for 22 years they never dreamed they’d ever go under an hour. The person that ran a 6min/km who had run for years at a steady 7:30min/km because that was just the pace at which they could run. The person hopping on the exercycle and doing 30sec intervals when any exercise at all was a scary prospect in case it triggered an angina attack. They dared to believe that they could do more, that their limits were broader than what they believed.
Realising that the only person in control of that is me has been both confronting (I’ve no more complicated and convenient excuses about my sub-optimal muscle composition) and incredibly empowering. And you get to look back over the fence at those you know who might be limiting themselves and really hope they get to discover this freedom for themselves.
So when I got the new training block and momentarily regretted being Very Excited about new plan time (refer to last week) and rashly suggesting to the coach that I was ready for longer and harder sessions, the panic was fleeting. Instead, as I scrolled through the various sessions planned for the next month, I had a growing sense of calm and resolve. Sitting on the bike for 2 and a half hours might be a little uncomfortable to start with but I’ve got this. Swimming 3km in a session instead of 2.4km might leave me with jelly arms but I’ve got this. And adding hills to the running repertoire might almost permanently alter my complexion from a pale, creamy beige 30 Chanel foundation to bright beetroot red but I’ve got this.
Taupo, we meet in 150 days. I’ve got this.
Quote of the week
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern
William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell