Learning success: You better believe

I had some pretty big things happen a week ago and combined they were so exciting that at some stages it all felt a bit much, in a good way though I think. Every few minutes I seemed to get a ‘congratulations’ email/text, a hug, a thumbs up across campus, some chocolates, etc.

Things happen in threes.

In the space of less than a week I had qualified to represent Team GB cycling at the Gran Fondo World Championships, finished my third full distance triathlon (coming 6th with a huge personal best) and received a second research grant.

I was simply elated and nothing gave me more pleasure than sharing those moments with those who ride the Charlie rollercoaster train with me everyday. At the time these seemed such big things and I will probably look back on this week as one of the most defining in my career, life and sport. As it was all such a giant leap from where I had been previously I was a little unsure, these things were for me? I did them or got them? Are you sure? Really sure?

It was clear I needed to ‘learn’ how to accept success just as I had tried to manage the setbacks. This was quite polemic thinking, not uncharacteristic at all for me, but, had I been successful before?

Was I successful the days I sat in my pyjamas all day, paralyzed by fear and depression trying to plug away at snail pace in the hope that something would work, just once, one day?

I wouldn’t have said so at the time but I categorically say so now. Big and shouty nice things happened this week, and people were very lovely to me, yes, but without those laborious days, months, and years of arduous effort those wouldn’t have happened. Those were the even more successful days, the days where I held on, or at least others kept me on a train that I thought was going into an eternal black hole.

Success undoubtedly breeds success, that’s well known and when I’d quite believed what had happened, the effects soon started to show. In that week, I wrote more words than I had in any of the other weeks in the previous 6 months, even though I have a very strict and regular writing routine and wasn’t exactly slacking. I raced my bike the best I have ever done so. I know I have a huge amount of work ahead of me, but I appreciate that by having some things that went right behind me that it will mean I will give everything I have, with the resources I have, with my project of self and do so with utmost pride.

I’ve had more time to reflect on these things now and I know the bad bits will still be there but I am at least starting to learn more about the troughs and peaks accommodating success (what does that word mean anyway?). Things are more normal now and I am back to my usual routine but I can at least visualize how this works. I wouldn’t want the good bits to happen all the time, just as I haven’t wanted the bad bits to redfine me and my life. But now those good things have happened, and they will occasionally get forgotten in amidst the hard labours that one loses oneself in, they will seem much less significant too, but I can at least visualize and feel them close enough to draw a steady state of energy from them. Classic athlete mindset, let me have a little and I’ll give you everything I can in return.

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