Wednesday, December 10, 2008


ConvergenceDo you lead dual lives? Work vs. Personal? Public vs. Private? Do you find common themes between the two? This post is about all that and bringing both worlds into the same light. (Oh no, worlds colliding...)

I am a closet triathlete. Not your typical person that enters a race here or there to celebrate a life milestone, but what some would call crazy. I have been doing an Ironman a year for the past 10 years. During this time, I have downplayed what many consider a tremendous achievement. Why? Because there tends to be a stigma associated with someone that exercises to that degree. People are skeptical about how I can manage that and a full time job. When I tell them it is easy I can see their faces fall. That is not what they want to hear. Don't get me wrong, doing an Ironman takes commitment and discipline. I will be the first to admit it is not for everyone.

When I say "it is easy" I am referring to mastering the basics. Most people have done it, they just don't realize it or don't like doing it. Daily everyone prioritizes things and makes sacrifices for the higher priority items. Exercising and being able to cover 140.6 miles in a day is higher on my priority scale than watching a football game or an evening sitcom.

That is some of my personal life. On the professional side, I am an engineer most recently working as software product manager / marketing person. I enjoy it because there are continual challenges. Priorities are constantly shifting. You have to be thinking ahead to make it all work within the allotted time. You are constantly working towards milestones or release dates. If you are not, then you are critiquing the product, evaluating its performance through the customers eyes and planning the next improvements among other things.

Notice how professional life mirrors personal life? I do not sign up for an Ironman race one week and show up to race the following. There is planning and challenges to overcome. One of the first one's is to even get into one of these events. Believe it or not, they sell out in hours. Once you are successful at getting into the race then you have to plan your time. There are macro cycles and micro cycles to be considered. As part of the "training plan" various milestones are incorporated such as a half marathon or a 100 mile bike ride. These enable you to checkpoint your progress. Am I on track to do the full Ironman race or does one sport need improvement. What goal times were set for these milestone events. This is my "customer" feedback. I may not like what the clock says when I cross the finish line but it is very real and undeniable feedback.

Crossing the finish line after an Ironman race is an indescribable feeling. A mixture emotions flood through your weary body and mind; elation at having completed the race within the allotted time; either joy or sorrow depending on race result; there is also some disappointment because that is it. You are truly finished. Some Iron-athletes talk about a post race funk because they feel they no longer have a purpose to train.

One other benefit is the knowledge that I was able to set a large goal and achieve it. Over time I have found that this is my main reason for doing these races. The self confidence to face most any challenge is very empowering. For example, 24 hours before the expo and the new product demonstration just fell apart - no problem, there is plenty of time.

Prior to this post, I tried to maintain some separation between the private and professional worlds. Having gotten back into some low level training I have had time to reflect on that and how it was not truly healthy. They balance each other out nicely and enable a high level of performance across both. I can feel a writer's block being unplugged and look forward to combining the experiences going forward.

Back to the original question: Do you lead a dual life? Are there common elements in both that support the whole person? Why do you continue to keep them separate?

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