I remember as a kid grabbing my buddies, each of us jumping on our bikes, and heading out on an adventure. First it was just around the neighborhood but as we got older our sense of discovery grew and we moved up to riding to the lake. Now, at the time, Folsom Lake seemed like it was quite a long way from our homes. Thanks to the magic of Google maps, I now know that it’s a 5 mile ride. The kind of ride that today, because I’m a “serious cyclist”, I likely would not even get out of bed for.
But man, those rides were fun. Back in the day of no helmets…I wouldn’t consider getting on a bike today without putting one on…weaving through the streets, just taking it all in. We took our time and goofed around. No big hurry and no agenda. Just get to the lake.
I compare that to how I ride today and it’s like a different world. More than likely now, I don’t just go for a ride, I’m “training”. It has become serious business. I have to make sure my Garmin is charged up and ready to go, power meter is calibrated, and nutrition is dialed in. Along the way, it’s not about “hey, look at those cows” or “whee! This hill is awesome!” I’m focused on speed, cadence, and power. After all, this is pretty serious business.
As a triathlete, I’m what they call a BOP, or Back of the Packer. That means that I am typically dragging up the rear of the race group. To put this in perspective, I finished my second Ironman in 16 hours and 43 minutes out of a maximum allotted 17 hours. I could argue that I was ensuring I got my full money’s worth out of my investment by enjoying every inch of the course but let’s just say my body woulddisagree. Given my beloved BOP’er status, why on earth am I so serious?
What I’ve discovered in the past year or so is that I forgot that this is supposed to be fun. Swimming is what we all looked forward to in the summer time. We couldn’t wait for it to get warm enough outside to jump in that refreshing water. Cycling was that great time spent with friends. Running, which has now become a chore, was what we did just to get from Point A to Point B, not a specific course with a time requirement. Triathlon is a culmination of three things that most of us just loved to do as kids. Whether we were competitive or not, these were just activities we enjoyed.
For me, it’s triathlon. For you, it could be any of a thousand other pursuits, sports or otherwise. The challenge for me personally and to anyone reading here is -- are you having fun? And not after the fact when you really have to think about it. During your activity, are you smiling and enjoying the moment that is occurring right then? Are you in the moment or worrying about how today’s training my influence your standings come race day?
I’ve decided that if it’s not fun, I’m not interested.
Life is too short to force myself to endure the mundane or stressful in the name of chasing a goal that ultimately is determined by me and me alone. Whether I finish first or dead last, my wife will still love and support me, my friends will still encourage me, and the sun will still come up tomorrow. For me, this isn’t about life and death. I am no gladiator out to slay the mighty beast in the coliseum. I swim (not very fast), I bike (to the best of my ability), and I run (because that’s what it take to get to the finish). That’s all.
I am lucky and blessed enough to be surrounded by people who care and a God given gift to be alive and have the option to go out and play. Seems to me that to appreciate at it for anything less is to lose the fun that it should be.
Close your eyes for a second and just smile. Imagine if every moment could feel like that. Even in the face of pain or struggle, remind yourself that in the end, no matter how old the calendar may say you are, you’re still just a kid and kids are supposed to have fun!
Thanks for reading.
Bob is a guest blogger for The Triumph Program and a successful restaurant finance professional, currently serving as Chief Financial Officer of Houlihan's Restaurants. He began his career in restaurant operations as a dishwasher and worked his way through multiple operations and management positions prior to completing his Bachelor's degree in Business Management and a Master in Business Administration. Nygren has worked in both large and small organizations as well as on the franchisor and franchisee sides of the business. His entrance into his restaurant career began as a fluke when a pizza place called his home to ask his brother to come in for an interview. That brother had a job but his stepfather asked if they would like to talk to his other son...and a career began.
He is also an accomplished endurance athlete claiming many triathlon finishes along with multiple half and full marathons and is a two-time finisher of the Disney World Dopey Challenge - a four day event including a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon on back-to-back days. His pinnacle triathlon achievements are the successful completions of Ironman Wisconsin in both 2012 and 2014. From a growth and learning perspective however, it is perhaps his DNF (Did Not Finish) at Ironman Cozumel in 2016 that has proven most meaningful and influential to his approach to training, leadership, and life, in general.
He is passionate about the need for authentic leadership in business, owning your "why", and creating meaningful personal relationships that revolve around shared experiences.
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