Something on the nature of Motivation and Commitment..

Have you ever felt totally present, alive, energised and in flow at work?

What does it take to get into that higher state of being and performance?

It’s something in my coaching practice that occupies a lot of my clients who present as tired, sometimes burnt out, often lost in the system and struggling to make headway in the complex organisations / relationships we humans engineer for ourselves.

Many coaching conversations seem to be much more productive when they take place in nature, during long walks in the Welsh Hills. There’s something about being outside in fresh air, up high or by fast flowing water that calms the inner critic and helps us see more clearly to find the agency we need.

There’s also something incredibly important about a “whole body commitment” to a course of action. If you think about the commitments you make – which ones are the strongest? Of course at work we regularly intellectually commit to a course of action with our heads. Are your commitments highly congruent with your whole body? does that commitment bring you alive, energise you and bring you to a new level of performance? – or are you truthfully often just transacting to get the job done? or do enough? – There’s something about a head, heart and gut commitment that motivates us beyond performing the mundane and elevates us.

It was at just such a moment in November 2018 that I experiences a “whole body commitment” to a challenge beyond anything I would have dreamed possible just a year ago. I’ve been transfixed for a number of years by athletes I considered to be achieving the impossible – riding across a continent in less that 10 days. These phenomenal men and women seem to summon super human strength to propel themselves 2-300 miles a day completely self supported during the annual Transcontinental Race (TCR).

On that November morning I remember distinctly thinking as I commenced a 220km ride for the first time – “I wonder if TCR is within my reach?” and then noticing a nervous, fearful excitement inhabit my whole body that erupted in a beaming smile and a shout at the wind – YES let’s do this!”. This quickly followed by the kind of energetic fear you get when when you’ve spooked yourself – adrenaline flowing, a bit of a shiver and an inner voice saying “you’re having a laugh Chris”

“Have you got one challenge in your life at present that thrills and frightens you (healthily) in equal measure?”

I’ve been here before, back in 2015 I started running multi-day marathons on long distance trails around the UK, culminating in a number of 7 marathons in 7 days efforts. there’s something about a tangible challenge, with clear targets, obvious topics to work through (nutrition, navigation, fitness training, kit, logistics, fund raising) that excites me to my core. For others, the thrill / fear mechanism may be triggered by different encounters. But how many of us ignore that spark of possibility and bury it in the humdrum & distractions of our day to day lives?

This time was different, this time was getting very serious. To even be considered for a place on the TCR one needs to be a serious athlete, cognisant of the significant risks and efforts required to achieve 4000km and the equivalent of 5 ascents of Everest you traverse Europe from East to West. You need to demonstrate that you can keep going long after your legs have screamed enough and your neck can no longer hold up your head. You need to find a route, manage 8000 calories of food intake a day and be wary of the risks as you ride night after night through 30 degree summer heat – but still this commitment thrills me and frightens me in equal measure.

So are you paying attention to the wee voice inside that speaks of possibility? are you giving it air time? space to gestate and be fully heard? – Are you giving yourself the opportunity to frighten yourself, to stretch and grow into a potential not yet realised?

Thanks for reading this, I’d be delighted to hear from you if this article has stirred up some thoughts that you would like to process or to just to be in touch about this year’s TCR. In the meantime, if you’d like to know more – Chris Spray TCRNo7 page

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