We all need to work out where our personal values are set. If its financially based then it may compromise your emotions/lifestyle. If its emotion based it may compromise your finances. I run a fantastic business if I look at it from my values (do I love doing what I do and do I help people overcome pain, loose weight, be successful in their chosen role) but if viewed from the perspective of others (££££’s) I’m the worlds worst businessman. I suck at marketing/promotion and don’t have the social chit chat to push myself forward and hassle people into action. I’m too focused on doing what I know I’m good at and enjoy. I’m working on doing better because my values are changing slightly (I’m a married man nowadays). Its a fine line and I can’t compromise my true feelings but I need to push my boundaries a little.
This also applies to sports. Athletes are doing jobs and when we see one jack it all in we look astonished. However, if it doesn’t meet their values it becomes a major stressor. They may be living YOUR dream but possibly the risk of a career ending injury plays too much on their mind. They may crave security or a life away from the limelight. I see a lot of people in the same situation and it all comes down to not understanding what they actually want. If you want to be an art teacher rather than a banker, make steady changes overtime. Nobody says you have to jump ship straight away. Sign up for training and make sure its what you want/enjoy. That way you’ll have passion for your career.
As an example, I love riding my bike and on paper that would be my dream job. Not a lot of cash in it but it should fit with my values. Recently their have been a few athletes that have backed away from top level competition, which has left many confused as to why they’d give up the ‘dream’. Their can be many reasons, such as wanting to do something different, realising that its not a long term career plan and even hating the pressures involved in being professional.
Trials (and riding bikes/motorbikes in general) has always contained a deep spirituality for me. In fact for most riders it’s an escape from the pressures of jobs, money, family, school to pit your abilities against the best that nature has. For me it is freedom from everything else.
From an early age I found an innate symbiosis with 2 wheels and life began to revolve around 2 revolving wheels. I quickly became intent on taking the techniques and tricks I’d seen and emulating them in the my bike. However, the many hours (4-5 on average which is why I find it bizarre when kids want to learn tricks but won’t do the basics) spent balancing at the end of the street avoiding other kids wasn’t built with ambition in mind.
I’ve always viewed riding as art. Twisting through sections like a painter working on a new masterpiece. Frequently I became frustrated when a ride simply didn’t match the picture I had in my head, even if I did get a ‘clean’ in the section. I’d often rather loose marks but get the moves exactly how I wanted them in my head. My dad often hated my showy riding but in my head its more clinical. I have a picture in my head of how to ride and aim to do it that way.
At 14 my dad spotted an advert for a club based in Essex and before we new it I was at my first competition (cyclo-trials) entered in the novice class. Riding an old bike (Fantic Trials-master) and being completely anonymous allowed me to ride at my best. I finished the trial in 1st place on 4 marks with 2nd place being on 74 marks. For my next trial I was destined for the Expert class and a new bike. As a northerner (anyone past watford gap was a northerner down there), and the new kid I got a lot of unwanted attention which meant I blew my first competition in the Experts and either came 2nd or 3rd I think. Despite this my third trial was also my first ever trip to the world championships in Germany and Switzerland. Fast forward to my first ever interview on TV, German TV as well…
This new attention brought with it sponsorship from various people who required me to perform like a carnival act for crowds and cameras when required. In addition, at shows I had to talk up the products that the company’s sold. My freedom to just ride had gone and I hated it.
My first reprimand came after I was asked at a show if I ‘liked the new bike’.
‘Purple looks cheap and I don’t like it, but the bike rides good!’ wasn’t the reply that was expected but I was just telling the truth and it didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate the fact that others liked the purple. I just didn’t like the colour and never have. Frequently I blurted out other things which weren’t quite appropriate.
After getting sponsorship from a UK company the manager had to take me to one side and ask why I stated that the bikes were unlikely to sell. I’d just stated the truth as it was hard to break the spanish stranglehold on the market, sadly I hadn’t recognized my job was to promote his brand for him, not just ride the bikes.
From refusing to wear sponsors clothes (didn’t like the material, colour etc) to just making rude comments about the bikes I just seemed to be throwing away my chance to exceed at the very thing I loved.
Remaining silent and avoiding talking to the rest of Team GB didn’t really help my appeal to teams or fellow riders. Neither did sitting on my own and refusing to practice with others or often even ignoring them completely. I became an outcast that literally rode alone and socialised (if you can call it that) alone..
During my later years competing I found alcohol during a period in which I had some corporate work doing demonstrations in nightclubs. This eased my anxiety socially and so I began using it frequently (every day). Riding the world championships (my final year) but going awol in drunken hazes isn’t really the best plan for competing on the world stage. However, it allowed me to mingle a little more and I rode better despite being slightly drunk.
I had a choice to ride and do what I loves in relative obscurity and peace, or bend to the pressure to give into the ambition of those who surrounded me.
I chose to back away from the world and enjoy it for the fun it is. For me its all about remaining under the radar and just being able to ride, do what I love and switch off from all the pressures of the world which stresses me so much.
Its taken me until now (almost 35) to realise that I am how I am. I always felt guilty for throwing away my supposed talent for a sport and buckling under pressure. However I now know its just the way my brain works and that riding is freedom from the stresses I suffer from.
Whatever your career it needs to be something that makes you happy…