Saturday, March 19, 2011

Making the Grade: Winning as a result of letting go of the desire to win.

Sometimes, I catch myself wondering if it can be done. I mean, I hear the thoughts in my head that say, with good reason, clarity and pragmatism, that the possibility of being a viable candidate for the National Alpine Team in a year and two months is very very low. Silly. Maybe even stupid.

The funny thing about thoughts like that is that thoughts like that make it even less likely to happen. And if it's that remote of a possibility, in order to succeed, there is no room at all for anything that diminishes possibility.

This journey, it turns out, has nothing whatsoever to do with making the team.

I think that the journey toward the tryouts has become a five-year meditation, a practice of training myself over time to let go of what is not productive toward growth and stay focused on what is.

Because the attached me needed an excuse: a goal, I needed somewhere to go, a fixed point to walk toward, making "The Team" gave me that focal point.

Sometimes, I think; Kate, if you were suddenly to win the lottery and had the luxury of paying for every kind of training possible and you trained your brains out without any other obligation for a year and two months it is STILL very unlikely that you would make the team, so why bother going all in for something that you are probably, in spite of giving it a "really good try" going to fail at?

The immediate answer, now that I've been training my heart to believe in me for five years, is simple. It doesn't matter if I fail, because its not at all about making the team. Its about every moment like that one being the lesson. How quickly can I let go of doubt? Can I live in a world where I accept what is and continue toward what can be? Can I stay integritous in my heart, committed to becoming, open to the lesson, open in my heart? Can I open more?

Thoughts like that distract from the possibility of improvement make it pretty likely that I will not get my feet past the ski cut. If I bleed emotional energy wondering why I am doing this, or if it is physically possible, or if it is emotionally possible, I slow down the flywheel of possibility I'm trying to build.

I see self-fulfilling  prophecies all around me, I've done it myself for years. I wonder if I can break the cycle? I wonder, can I be strong of heart enough for it not to matter if I get to the summit, but just to let the next footfall matter? Can I let go of the outcome and focus on the work?

My friend Lissa once said to me when I was having a hard time, "Chop Wood, Carry Water."

It is really immaterial whether I'll have the feet or not, I can't predict the future. All I can do is keep listening to my mentors, keep developing my internal coach, keep turning left and right as much as possible. For me, now, its time on snow. Time on snow, time on snow.

6 comments:

weems said...

Here, here.

This means a lot. It is the way to hold polarity between results and process. Both are critical. And both need each other.

And you live this idea very well. Thanks for this teaching, Kate.

Andy Matthews said...

Nice piece. Some wonderful points. Thank you.

Maybe five years is not actually that long. What for the next five years?

I am guessing that you are closer than you think.

Kate Howe said...

Thank you so much, you guys. I'm really grateful for your readership and for your comments.

Andy... the next five... there are thoughts out there, because I've seen so often the free-fall that happens after a big deadline passes without thought of what occurs later, but its loose.

Right now, I'm really focusing down on trying to become physically, mentally and emotionally strong and open.

Thanks for the encouragement!!

Stumpa said...

One's ability to "let go of what is not productive towards growth" and to remain "focused on what is" seems to be center on the teacher / learner experience. Learning to identify the those energy drains is sometimes the acceptance that you've already learned the lessons that they represent. You needn't return to mile marker 17 when you're passing marker 20 with a destination of marker 23. Of course the journey will continue after a brief rest at the goal. The National Team, the perfect run, the selfless rescue, the humanitarian triumph or any worthy goal is only part of the journey.

Have fun, enjoy and trod on my fellow explorer.

Scott said...

Chop wood....Carry water (actions / process. Perhaps very Zen-like), but for what purpose (results / success. Not very Zen-like). But Weems is right. They both need each other. Action without thought as to why is meaningless. But the goal/result/success can be 5 yrs, 5 weeks, or 5 seconds from now. To eat when hungry, to sleep when tired (both Zen-like) has purpose for an immediate reason. Turn left, turn right base on what is immediately in front of you. But time is also relative (not sure just how Einstein came into this!)...but my daughter seemed to age 7 yrs in the blink of an eye. Your goal in 1 yr and 2 months can be seen as immediately in front of you. The time in between your immediate and long term goal is irrelevant....simple thought and process from now until then.

Kate Howe said...

What a wonderful group of comments! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this.

I agree, the polarities here are fast, slow, dedicated and disciplined, as well as let go, loose and open. Its a very interesting balance to reach for.

I think the practice is making me a me that I hadn't thought of yet. For that, I'm grateful!