T-26 Stars and Stones
The last week or so I’ve been winding out of my current job with all the “relaxation” associated with not being put on garden leave but not having anything of consequence to complete. I have therefore been out of routine with very flexible start and finish times and plenty of work from home days. You would think that this would be conducive to cracking out some great training sessions but I’ve always been someone with a low boredom threshold who performs better under pressure and with a deadline so the week was a blur of blah which spilled over into training. I got all my sessions done, and got some of them done well, but there was some spice missing. I don’t know exactly which spice it was - I am well practiced at the are of drama queen and it could be that I missed the stress-buzz of rushing to get to and from somewhere that fitted around a session. It could also be that I’m just not very good at dealing with the dismantling of some of my routines and structures and facing into the tiny unknowns of what a new job, new commute and new work environment is going to mean for my training.
In any case, all week a niggly little thought bubble has percolated away and caused me to think about how I might get the balance right between structure and constriction. How do I put in place just enough emotional scaffolding to ensure I am creating for myself the time, space and headspace to train, and train well, without resorting to my control-freak tendencies and spending hours on over-engineered planning that doesn’t get executed to perfection and therefore causes a meltdown and abandonment of the plan in totality.
I don’t have the answer but I am going to borrow from some of the techniques I’ve used at work to manage teams and departments, apply these to myself and see how we go. I’m not exactly a professional fuck-up so I figure the chances of success are better than even and who wouldn’t give those odds a crack? Last week’s Quote of the Week was from the War of Art which I’m reading at the moment. Ironically, the technique I’m going to re-purpose is one first theorized in the Art of War - one of my favorite go-to texts for thinking.
Armies use a solution to manage what they call the fog of war - the confusion, uncertainty and loss of perspective experienced in the midst of a situation. Not too dissimilar to when you are sunk into the day to day execution of a 12 month plan the culmination of which can feel both comfortably far away and distressingly interminable. In war, generals need to maintain alignment to the strategy, while the soldiers need the autonomy to respond to changing conditions so the solution has two parts:
Commander’s Intent - the purpose of an operation and the conditions for success
Doctrine - principles to determine how soldiers make decisions towards the fulfillment of the purpose of the operation
Nature provides a great example of how this can work in practice - think flocks of birds or schools of fish. The purpose is simple - the birds for example it is to reach a destination, for the fish, avoid being eaten by whatever monsters lurk in the deep. The doctrine, or rules, are also simple: move to the centre, follow your neighbor, don’t collide. These rules allow each bird or fish to act independently whilst ensuring the group acts collectively. The rules don’t tell each bird exactly what to do or which way to go but rather guide them on what action to take.
So I’ve been given cause to think about what my doctrine is going to be? Rather like evaluating one’s personal values, its probably a Process and I guess there are going to be a few evolution’s before I get it completely settled so I’m going to start with three simple rules and see how we go.
1: Same day, same time
I’m going to embrace habitual behavior here - or as we like to wank on about in marketing, create myself a frictionless experience - and pick a time for a training session and stick to it. Every week. I’m kind of abit….flexible…with this at that moment. Swimming on Monday might be 6pm. Or 6:30. Or even 7:30. Picking a time and sticking to it each week for that day will, I hope, remove the decisioning procrastination and let me focus more on what happens in the session rather than when the session might happen.
2: Start tomorrow, today
I think I’m late to the party on this but I’ve noticed that when I go to bed prepared for the following day - bag packed, clothes chosen, calendar reviewed and timetable decided - then the day seems to go better. More things get done and the doing seems…lol…frictionless. My very first boss had a mantra about his 7 P’s: Proper Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. So 7 P’s it is.
3: Skip the snooze button
I have a dreadful, and hated by Ant, habit of snoozing the alarm clock. Every morning. Several times. I even schedule snooze time into the alarm setting activity so that the alarm goes off half an hour before I need to get up. I don’t think the correlation between the alarm clock snoozing and procrastination about starting a session is unrelated, so I’m going to address this little habit and see what flow on effects it has. At the very least, I’ll have better sleep hygiene, lower cortisol levels and therefore better quality training.
TSS: 353 this week which I frankly don’t understand how I can go from almost double last week on almost exactly the same sessions and qualitative certainty that this week felt like I was going harder.
CTL: Good news! 42 this week so over halfway to the number I want!
Quote of the week
Some sessions are stones and some sessions are stars but in the end they’re all rocks and we can build on them.
Chrissie Wellington, A Life Without Limits