Caring is Cool

Today I learned who graffiti artist, political activist, and filmmaker Banksy is. His tweet…
“Our generation thinks it’s COOL NOT TO CARE. It's not. Effort is cool. Caring is cool. Staying loyal is cool. Try it out.” 

Athletes often pretend or say/suggest they don’t care about their “race” or how they do. I rarely believe them. It’s a safe front to use however. Let the world know that you are just “doing it for fun” or haven’t really trained for it so “going easy” or like to focus on the “comfort-zone” of race participation. There is an ever growing number of people that are “finishing” marathons or jumping into mass participation endurance events (in fact the slower you go the more fun and comfortable it is!). Surely we will all agree that anything that gets people moving is a very good thing. But is it really true that they don’t care? Or is it cool not to care? What happens if you do care? 

My response to many of my athletes that say they are nervous before a race is “yes, it’s because you care and caring is a good thing. It means this experience matters to you. You worked hard for something so nerves are a good sign. It means you care.” If nerves are generated from saving face and self imposed [unrealistic and pressure cooker] expectations, we are having a different conversation. 

This will be my final year racing as a professional triathlete. And I too am lining up on July 30th for Ironman Canada in Whistler, BC. I want to be in the trenches with the athletes and feel what they feel, see them on the course and hopefully exchange a few high fives. With that decision comes exposure, effort and a lot of caring. The easy route would be not to race and roll out this year until my pro license expires and avoid dealing with vulnerability, stepping into the arena with competitors some 15-20 years younger, feeling the discomfort of racing and risking failure. But I would rather care and jump in than pretend not to and watch on the side lines.

For those of you training hard, racing, preparing daily, opting out of destructive behaviour so that you can opt into constructive behaviour and elevating your game daily, go back to Banksy’s reminder. 
CARING IS COOL. The personal rewards for caring will propel you and those around you far more the impact of any one race or athletic endeavour. 

My all time favourite quote is by Theodore Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

It’s a bit long to tape on your handlebar for inspiration but read it before your next race. 

Or tape this one (my second favourite):

Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
- John Wooden, Coach. Winning 10 NCAA National Championships in a 12 year period while at UCLA - still unmatched by any other college basketball coach.