Perfectionists and Triathlon

Here’s a quote from a book I just finished reading called "The Triathlete’s Guide to Mental Training."  Now before you say that anyone who reads a book like that has to be an exemplar for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, let me plead that it was a gift that I received for Xmas a couple of years ago, and haven’t gotten around to reading until now.
 
"Perfectionists are another group who are drawn to triathlon.  Triathlon is the perfect sport for perfectionists.  Because of its complexity, intensity, minute details, precise organisation and results orientation, the sport satisifies the punctilious needs of those whose standards are higher than high.  Perfectionists are drawn to triathlon because it allows them to focus on the smallest details, gives them the sense of control that they crave, and creates an artificial world with the precise structure with which they are most comfortable (just like computers?  — Ed.).
Triathlon can also be the bane of perfectionists.  They can start with a perfect world of organised training, immaculately prepared equipment, detailed lists, and a structured routine, but the real world of triathlon is quite messy.  Filled with unpredictable weather, equipment failures, and nutritional crises, triathlon is the antithesis of the perfect sport.  A race day that begins superbly planned, highly organised and well structured, can quickly morph into a chaotic experience of perseverance in the face of unexpected adversity, improvisation in response to unplanned problems, and the need for flexibility in a constantly changing environment.  What starts as a dream day for perfectionists can turn into a nightmare of frustration, lost control, and inflexibility.
 
Perfectionists have attached their self-esteem to their achievments, which, no matter how lofty they might be, are never enough to meet the unrealistic standards they have set for themselves.  Perfectionists direct their often maniacal efforts to achieve the impossible goal in pursuit of feelings of competence and a happiness and contentment that they so desperately crave."
 
And in response, I would have to say that I have been accused of being a perfectionist (though never in that sport).  I do have high standards, and am always drawn to a structured rather than an improvisational approach to things.  However, I just like triathlon because it makes me get out in the sun and get some exercise.  And I’m actually a pretty happy person in and of myself, no matter what my times are (just as well).  As a devotee of the Sprint Triathlon, I have already internalised the fact that most of my fellow triathletes probably consider me to be a ‘bunny,’ a ‘hodad,’ and a ‘try-hard.’  That is fine by me.  I am happy to compete only with myself and my past times.  With apologies to the author of this poem:
 
… and so, for me
’tis passtime to be bound
within the Sprint-Tri’s
scanty plot of ground.
 
The authors of the book go on to say, later in the chapter…
 
"Triathlon should be about love: Love of yourself, love of the sport, and love of others.  Yet because triathlon is a competitive sport, it can sometimes turn into a love for results: times, placings, and rankings.  Without that passion for all things triathlon, you may find that, in time, your interest and motivation to train and race, may wane.  Love the process of triathlon  — turning laps in the pool, pedal strokes on the bike, and strides on a run."
 
I belive I have that.  I just love it… 
 
But the phrase, "Where’s the Love?"  is one for me to remember in all walks of life.  I remember that Ben T. used to come out with in meetings and things at work. 
 
When vindictive and calculating people are secretly compiling lists of complaints against your organisation (for example), and just trying to smear everything that you and yours do, it is easy to respond competitively, with a rationale that says, "Oh no, I’m not going to sit here and let you lot do that to us, when it patently is not true."  And so everything becomes sort-of nasty and abrupt.  What is required is more of a thoughtful, loving, respectful, dare I say counselling, approach to getting down to root causes.  And really listening to what is not being said, and inquiry.  And character!
 
Where’s the love, Mike?  Where’s the love?
 
I declare, Boswell, I think I’ll go out for a run…
 
 
 
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