The first time I started working with Potential Squared, I was drawn by the open-minded approach of the company and quickly developed strong personal relationships with Colin and the rest of his team.
It was a happy coincidence that Colin shares my passion for grueling physical tests, particularly triathlons, and now I’m delighted that Potential Squared are sponsoring my challenge, now underway, which I’ve dubbed the Triple8.
I am covering 888km in a week by crossing Malaysia twice, beginning with running one way as part of the Coast to Coast multi-stage ultra-marathon of 444km. To make the degree of difficulty even more scary and seemingly impossible for myself though, I’m then going to cycle back to the start line.
I have been helped to take on this challenge because of a strong belief in the link between mental and physical wellbeing, and the fact, that when people look after their physicality well intrinsically supports their actual performance in their work and the rest of their lives. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way, having been what I now refer to as a “fat little banker”.
I was heading for a major coronary at the tender age of 40. So, I count myself seriously lucky that I was given a wake-up call by my doctor. He finally plucked up the courage to have a fierce conversation with me about how I had to buck up my ideas to avoid ending up the way of my father who died far too early.
I remember asking what I needed to do to stop that from happening. His retort was “it's quite easy old boy! All you need to do is stop smoking, start exercising and lose weight”. I asked, “Do I have to do them in that order?” He said “No your silly sod! You need to do them all at once!”
That was 16 years ago. His directness and firmness probably saved my life. The journey since hasn’t been a smooth one but it’s given me a concrete understanding of the concept of being “fit to lead”, a term I first read about in an article in the Harvard Business Review by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.
This presents a compellingly argument that “corporate athletes” – essentially people who win at working – stay in condition by maintaining their performance physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. The ‘spiritual’ aspect for them is about purpose, which I strongly agree with. If you believe in why you’re doing something the what, how and when don’t really matter as much.
These are principles that I work with when I consult for Potential Squared, and they’re helping me prepare for this big challenge too.
If you look at the profiles of the other 11 “crazies” attempting the Coast to Coast event for example, all of them are physically more experienced and therefore better equipped for the challenge than I am.
I tried to catch up in terms of preparing myself physically but in the time available that was not possible. So, I prepared myself emotionally, cognitively & spiritually by using my leadership values and my personal purpose to help others to come up with a strategic plan that I believe gives me the best possible chance to complete the challenge.
Success is certainly not assured given all the unknowns but along the way I expect to gain a deeper understanding of myself and my true capabilities the deeper I dig. With the team that has stepped up to help me I’m also expecting to have some incredible benefits in terms of my relationships with these people.
As well as the personal stretch, I’ve got a strong communal purpose driving me as well, which is to use the challenge to give back to the communities where I was raised and now live. These are The Royal Marsden Hospital Foundation who have helped my mother and many others battle cancer and The Moor House Foundation who help young people with speech and language challenges to help them be understood and feel appreciated and valued, which I consider to be a basic human right.
These principles are also the reason I’ve ended up working almost exclusively with Potential Squared. I truly value the cutting-edge work the company does that really makes an impact in helping people do things that are more than a little scary and challenging.
They’ve helped me define my purpose as a “Summit Seeking Sherpa” whose aim is to help inspire others to drive change with a growth-orientated mindset. As being able to go to work every day feeling driven by a strong sense of purpose is as exhilarating as training for challenges like this one.