Month: April 2016

Beginning a journey. Three mates at dinner. (Chapter 5)

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imageSo where did this actually begin?

Many have come across the path of this journey during the initial execution of the 10 City Bridge Run, whether that was in the first stages of crowdfunding, or whether that was in the concluding days of the epic journey that saw me literally run around the world.

In fact, the seeds of the journey took place in an earlier effort, and that was spawned because of a conversation that took place back in 2004.

It was in Paddington, at the home of a good mate from school, Cam. Another mate who also attended school with us, Al, was part of the trio. Together we were meeting for dinner and a few bottles of wine.

During the evening, Al interrupted the flow of conversation asking “had you heard to news?” We answered in the negative. What unfolded was nothing short of a bombshell, and stole the remainder of the conversation for the evening. Al told us the sad news of one of our classmates from school who had committed suicide.

None of us were naive to the realities of suicide, but it was probably fair to say that we hadn’t been directly affected before that point by the actions of our friends in this way. We talked earnestly about what could have been different to have otherwise arrested this situation. Accepting the reality of the situation, we also asked each other what we could now do to change such circumstances into the future.

We left that dinner resolved that things could be different.

Act 2 of this same scene took place four years on. It was towards the end of 2008, and the three of us had met again for dinner. We enjoyed those occasions to gather together, coloured with the richness of close friendship. Incredulously, during this dinner Al once again was the messenger of bad news. Another colleague had taken his life. Again, the conversation turned towards a probing examination of what we might do differently. If there was just one thing?

We left that dinner, our resolve emboldened that this ought to never happen again. But truth be known there was not any significant action taken that was different. We talked a lot. We gave the matter considerable thought. We went on with our lives.

To say that these incidents had no affect would be wholly untrue. I know for a fact that Al was deeply saddened by the deaths of our friends, just as Cam and I were too.

But how often is this the case where there is an assembly and a reason to do something. People talk. People sign petitions. People are seemingly mobilised. They might even wear a ribbon, or do something that defines their commitment to the change they are seeking. But in the pages of this book, I want to argue that what we see is a clear example of what I am calling Backswing. The windup is impressive. And we want to knock that ball out of the park. But for whatever reason, impact alludes us all, and there is no hit, or so it might seem.

As if to create the dramatic structure for the journey ahead, this was the first Act of this narrative played out across two scenes. An exposition achieved between three friends.

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A Runner (Chapter 4)

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IMG_2110I have always been a runner. Okay, maybe not always. But it was something that did come naturally to me.

I remember when in secondary school, we would run laps around a circular path in the park that separated the primary school from the secondary school which I attended. At the time, I thought that this path was a long distance, but returning to the area a few years ago I was surprised at how small it actually was. I was usually well out in front. I didn’t see my ability as anything special. It was just what I did.

My passion for running really comes from my father. How or why he started running is something I can’t say for sure, but it is likely to be been influenced by the interest in running during the 1970s. My father read the books of people like James Fixx, and also became involved in orienteering. In fact, he travelled overseas a couple of times to attend orienteering meets.

I would go so far as to say that my father was at his happiest when running. He showed me where he ran, and these become daily routines for me. I don’t think we ever ran together. We weren’t joggers, but runners.

My father ran a marathon. I remember seeing him at the finish line. He was part of a larger movement of runners, but each one also achieving their own personal victory no matter what time they completed the distance.

A few years later in 1983, I followed his example and ran a marathon myself. My time was pretty ordinary, but I was only young. I don’t think I really appreciated the value of training as a means to improve performance at that time.

Around the same time, I remember going to some junior athletics meets, but I just couldn’t get into the intensity of the other competitors and coaches. For me, exercise came naturally and was something I enjoyed. That was enough for me.

One time, I remember meeting Robert De Castella at an event somewhere. I knew he was famous for running, but I don’t think I was really aware of why he was among Australia’s, and even the world’s, greatest runners. Looking back, I cringe at my naivety.

Distance was my thing. I could run with endurance and probably had a gift. I was fast enough, and remember running a pretty quick 5 km course around Albert Park Lake and The Tan course which circumferenced the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. Even though I was fast, there were always others who were faster. I don’t think I understood then that it might be possible to train and become the best.

I also used to ride my bicycle a lot at that time. On one occasion, in fact the year before I joined the Australian Army, I rode from Melbourne to Singleton. It just seemed like a good thing to do. There was no real occasion, and I have often thought that if I was going to do such a thing now that there would need to be a reason combined with a circus of media and fundraising. Other than getting my photo on the front page of The Argus in Singleton at my uncle’s insistence, it was a simple journey full of adventure. I probably didn’t appreciate my ability to get things done and took a lot of my youth for granted.

After joining the army, I ran long distances for sport and was good at cross country. I later was involved in a sport called “rogaining” where in pairs we would run 24 hour orienteering-style events across large areas of the bush. They were great days.

I’m not quite sure how I came to choose running as the vehicle for raising awareness at the beginning of this journey described by this book. There had been no precedent that led me to setting a challenge involving running, and I wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in terms of being a runner.

I had an idea at the very beginning of this journey which much later would lead me to begin the 10 City Bridge Run. This idea was to undertake something I called the “7 x 7 Bridge Run” where I would run seven laps of a 25 km course looping around Sydney Harbour in seven days as a stunt to raise awareness for homelessness. My only real exposure to homelessness at that time was some volunteer work I had done in London, New York and San Francisco with some great organisations that we impacting people caught in what I would describe as chronic homelessness. I thought it would be worth opening a similar conversation in the city which I lived at the time, Sydney, and that by running across bridges through different suburbs I could symbolically show a connection between people. My contention was that people who were homeless came from somewhere, and the many households that sat around Sydney Harbour were as likely to have their own stories as much as those places that seemed to be like a beacon for people who were homeless. At that time, I had never had any experience of being homeless myself personally.

My efforts were to be entirely self-funded, and I approached a well known charity which seemed to be doing great work in this area. We agreed that through this running, it could be a good vehicle for opening a conversation. I agreed that the charity might be able to do some fundraising of the back of this initiative. None of us knew what the outcome might be, but to their credit they were wholly supportive of a new approach and a new idea. It was new territory to explore.

There was an organisation in Sydney at the time which conducted a walk around the harbour once a year. We were a few months away from when I was going to conduct this event, so I finally was able to connect with the organiser of this harbour walk so that I could introduce myself and suggest that we had an opportunity to share what worked. Together, I thought it was a natural way to collaborate. His response was entirely baffling. After I explained on the phone what I was planning, his response was incredulous as he exclaimed: “Look mate, you can’t just go and make a sandwich then call yourself McDonalds”. I was at a loss as to what he meant, so asked him to explain further. “Mate, if you do that, I will sue you. We have spent a lot of money on our branding, and the last thing we need is some upstart to come along and ruin it for us all.” Welcome to the wonderful world of professional fundraising…

I rang the organisation who I had approached earlier to work with on this endeavour, and explained that the response I received on my phone call presented too much risk to their brand to continue. I was willing to have a go, but I thought there was too much room for unnecessary controversy. That was 2007, and I parked the idea thinking that it would remain forever on the shelf.

It was around this time that I first met my good mate, Tim. He asked what I had been up to, and I explained this conundrum I found myself in. I think Tim is the one person who has seen this whole journey unfold from that point onwards. This is worth remarking about because Tim’s kindness which I have subsequently benefited from first-hand stood in stark contrast to the mean-spirited response from the person who I had encountered earlier. Be careful of your words and actions: they can embolden someone to better things or extinguish dreams that would otherwise make the world a better place.

The organisation I was offering to support were really good about the whole situation, and later invited me to their annual gala evening. I was great that they included me on their invitation, but I still had unresolved feelings about how this 7 x 7 Bridge Run had ended. My instinct was to push back, as I sensed the response I received an enormous injustice on so many levels, but I saw the reputation of the institution as more important than my personal soap box.

And this is where this book could have ended, except for a meeting with a few friends a short while later which changed the conversation forever.

Setting the scene: A personal quest (Chapter 3)

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imageSometimes the best place to begin a story is at the beginning.

It is a long way from the beginning as I look back across the past decade which has framed this journey. In telling this story, I am seeking to unpack an idea about failure and the role that failure plays in our journey to make meaningful change happen. Through this self-reflective journal, I hope that you too can find some space to examine your own endeavours.

What is this quest about exactly, and why did it become personal? I ended up undertaking a global endurance challenge to examine what an individual could do to impact pressing unmet needs. Circumstances dictated that this is how the journey unfolded. It wasn’t planned to go on for a decade, and certainly my intention had been to wrap things up a long time ago. It is not the length of time that has made this epic, rather it is the unfolding nature of this story which saw both opportunity and hardship seeking to thwart my resolve to continue.

How I arrived on this epic journey is told through the chapters that follow. I have come to believe that the circumstances that lead us towards wanting change to happen are maybe as important as our desire to make that change happen itself. For change to occur there needs to be deep-seated resolve fuelled by equal parts of passion mixed with an insatiable dissatisfaction in the status quo. My biggest point of self-criticism is that I began not knowing much about what I was wanting to change.

Why did this become personal? The truth is that my preference was to have the support of an institution. And it wasn’t for the lack of trying that no relationship formed where I could have sublimated my own personal engagement to their brand. If I had been successful in winning the support of an institution, it would have been an uneventful journey by comparison. I ended up being left with no option but to explore the role of the individual, and that individual at the time was me. Consequently, this journey because intensely personal.

I remember one time in London during this process, I think it was 2012. I came out of the Underground near Southwark where I had found some cheap accommodation for the additional night that I was in the city. That was during the messy and clueless phase of this journey, where I knew I had taken on a commitment which at that point in time had no idea how I was going to resolve. The issue was about child survival, this is the unacceptably high levels of mortality among children under the age of five. At that time, I was still only beginning to explore the edges of this problem. I had been fortunate insights through previous travel to have visited many countries where child mortality was a real problem. I went to those countries for other reasons. I was not there to ‘kick the tyres’ of the problem. Whether we like it or not, serendipity is always our companion.

I came out of the Tube station as was confronted by a “chugger”, a word that combines two other words: charity and mugger. You might have been intercepted by one of those representatives of a large charity on the street, seeking to persuade you to make an ongoing monthly commitment on your credit card. This person I encountered was from UNICEF, a key organisation charged with the responsibility to address problems confronted by children. Addressing child mortality is central to their role.

At that time, I had no credit available on my credit card, and in reality had almost no money. Embarrassingly, I was living in poverty myself. This was all the while attending some pretty fancy engagements with some great minds and change agents on the global stage whom I respect greatly. I couldn’t have been living a more divided life between what the public saw and my personal reality. No one, not even my family, knew of my poverty. It was one of those times that you know you just have to keep moving forward even though it seems completely ridiculous to plan anything due to the absence of resources. If you have been in this situation, and many have, then you will know what I am talking about.

I had earlier in those past years engaged with UNICEF and a number of other leading global charities to seek some way of opening a conversation towards partnering along this journey. I was unsuccessful, and probably because I wasn’t clear enough in what I was asking for. This is a classic example of backswing: opening the conversation but without the punchline to drive home a successful resolution.

The chugger was unaware of any of this. All she saw was a man in a suit who might just be her next target. I politely listened to her pitch about child mortality, and then respectfully asked her a few questions. I felt almost sickened by the absence of any knowledge of either UNICEF or the issue which she was presenting. She wasn’t to blame. In effect, she was just doing a job. But it did cast a serious question in my mind about the behaviour of large charities in this field.

I hold no grudge towards the institutions, and my later reticence to engage with institutions in preference to a focus on the individual was not entirely the creation of earlier rejection. But my experiences had left me questioning whether charities were nothing more than efficient fundraising machines that used their stories of social change as sophisticated marketing ploys.

There was one exception to the rejections I received from the large institution. An organisation called Save The Children provided a glimmer of hope, but all because of one person that made a difference. I can understand that large organisations become guarded because of the relentless barrage of fundraising requests they must receive, but this too must be balanced by their own acceptance of risk for endeavours that might be successful as much as they might be a complete waste of time. Much later in this book I examine this concept of backswing in relation to the institution.

This one person had become the human face for a global organisation. She was just being her own authentic self, but her kindness sent ripples of hope throughout my world more than she will ever know. Change making is far too important to be left to the gatekeepers. We are missing out on a rich vein of innovation. Can we do better as individuals and institutions? I believe we can.

No one sets out to be mediocre, but there it is! The decision to make a difference that will measurably change things is a daily and conscious choice that we all must make. The ease at which we can slip back into mediocrity cannot be underestimated. We must constantly resist taking the path towards mediocrity.

Many people and experiences shaped this journey. Some good, and some bad, but ultimately all worked for good. I’m not going to lie: it wasn’t pleasant. Homelessness and hunger really suck.

There are a lot of people to acknowledge who were of immense value as mentors along the way. Without these guides and without these difficulties I encountered, I would have ended up with an outcome that might have been prettier, but not as beneficial for my development. I now have something of value, but only if it is shared. Importantly, and while it has taken much longer to achieve, I am also closer to being able to influence a problem than I ever was before. But to do that, I need your help. This is the paradox of the individual taking action. They must have the assistance from others in order to succeed.

I am certain that you won’t agree with everything I write. I encourage you to read with a critical mind as I explain how I see things. I would agree heartily that there might have been a far better and easier way to do what I was seeking to accomplish. But this has become a story about the process of journey, not the cleverness of efficiency. It is not a celebration of incompetence, but rather recognising that to hit the ball, we must first strike out many times as we master our authentic swing. Understanding backswing is important if we are to become big hitters.

“The artist cannot be rushed” (Chapter 2)

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IMG_3699The artist cannot be rushed”. Is this the worst excuse, ever? Or is this a statement of truth about The Creative Process?

This is an expression that came to mind as I was preparing to depart for a friend’s house party in Sydney’s Northern Beaches earlier this year. My friend had asked everyone to ‘bring a plate’, and we would share the fruits of our collective cooking abilities. I had known about the date of the party for easily three weeks.

In my fridge I had some left over nectarines. A box of apples from the markets was sitting on the dining room table. Prior to Christmas, I had baked a Tarte Tatin apple pie for another party. My friend asked if I would cook the Tarte Tatin pie again. It was the obvious thing to do. It would be simple. And after all, the box of apples was sitting there ready to be used.

But for some reason, I wanted to try something different. My appetite for the creative pursuit took over, and I started thinking about what I could bake. This was a mistake. I was thinking about doing something but never taking action.

I awoke the day of the party later than I had intended. I had just enough time, but not the right ingredients. I realised that I lacked some puff pastry that I would need to cook a Tarte Tatin if I was going to do what was easiest. I needed to find a solution.

As I was trying to work out what to do, my friend Tony texted me. “Would I like a lift?” he offered. A lift! How perfect, and so I accepted. The party was about an hour’s drive by car from Sydney, and a lift would mean that I wouldn’t need to take public transport. One less thing to worry about, but accepting a lift meant that I would would be constrained by the time I had available.

I raced off the go to the shops to buy some puff pastry, and was kicking myself that I had been closing the door to serendipity. How much time I had earlier to prepare for this party? Opportunity favours the prepared mind, and I had failed to fix a problem when it had arose earlier.

I arrived at the train station only to learn I had to wait another 15 minutes before I could travel to the supermarket to buy some puff pastry. It was too long and it wouldn’t work. I started to enter a mild panic, and was clutching at options that might work. It was a classic moment of lacking mindfulness, and being unaware towards a solution within the resources at hand.

I didn’t wait for the train, but instead visited my friend’s bakery nearby. I mumbled something to him about needing puff pastry and looking for a substitute. He responded with the best Korean politeness he could muster, not really knowing what I was exactly asking for or how he might be of help. I could have bought a cake from his shop, but my desire for creative output demanded that I cook for my friends myself regardless of the time available. I searched the internet quickly, and suddenly stumbled across a recipe that might just work.

All of a sudden, a brainwave! The conviction that I could do it! The recipe required me to make a base from thick-crusted bread into which a stewed fruit compote of apples and apricots would be filled. I had nectarines, and decided to use these as a substitute for the apricots.

But let’s just pause in this story for one moment. Why only at this point did I become so certain of my ability? A few minutes earlier I was stressing at the lack of time and ingredients, and saw the task as near impossible to achieve. Self-censoring and worry are such useless actions.

Arriving home with thick-crusted bread, I began cooking with pleasure. The nectarines were crushed in my hands with the juice and pulp messily wetting my fingers. Cutting the apples became a meditative process. My sense of hurry seemed to disappear. The fruit began to change colour in the pot where it was boiling, which was an act of modern day alchemy at its simplest.

I had to cut off the crusts the lovely fresh and thick bread which made the soft, white fluff crush together. A memory of playing with my food when I was a child.

Melted butted was painted into a golden, oily film on each side of the bread using my basting brush. The moist and sponge-like bread was then encrusted in a cinnamon and sugar dust. A bowl was lined, and the compote inserted before baking in a hot oven.

I texted my friend Tony. Time was against me and I was not going to make the lift he had offered. I would meet everyone at the party, and instead travel on the bus. Truth be known, this was my plan all along, and an option I preferred. But why did I prefer to travel alone? It wasn’t really because I enjoyed the solitude, or because I had the opportunity to ‘do some things’. I realised that I was embarrassed of my past failures. I felt like I was all backswing, and no hit.

The irony was that I was focusing on my past failures all the while creating a delicious dessert people would later crave. What is that if not success? It is also worth noting that the success was only possible because of the chemistry that came through the enjoyment of others. No one stands completely alone.

The pie was ready, and came out of the oven. I painted the surface as if my canvas with apricot jam which I had cooked the previous week. My basting brush moved in broad strokes that would be invisible to others. Those enjoying the dessert would only see the completed whole, and not the workmanship involved.

I was ready. Before leaving home for the party, I posted a photo onto Facebook for my friends at the party. I was coming, and had the pie to prove it, even if I was going to be a little late. It was then that I invented this quote to caption the photo: “The artist can never be rushed.”

Later that day while sitting alongside my friend Greg at lunch, we stumbled into a very engaged conversation about this quote in the context of my seeking to make this pie. Reflective conversations are important, and in that moment Greg became more than just a good friend, but a mentor as well. Even the hero’s journey is about the engagement with others. There are no lone heroes. To hit the ball, we first must be playing with others to make our own experiences worthwhile.

Too often, I believe we use the anxiety that comes from the hardship of creation an an excuse that that artist cannot be rushed. This hiding behind delay is complete rubbish. The bottom line is that we must crack on. We must get things done. We must push and strive if epic journeys are to be achieved. And only in ourselves can we become that person who ultimately demands that which comes from within.

This book applies to all endeavours regardless of how artistic you might think that they are.

Delaying and not being rushed are different, and this is the point I am making. Take the time to create, but do whatever you need to do to protect yourself from indulging in unnecessary delay.

Do what you can. You can’t do all things. Seek opportunities for collaboration. Be open to the expansive and generative process of creation. And get on with it. The world needs what you can bring into existence.

No Hit. (Chapter 1)

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IMG_3496Can we be honest with each other just for a moment and agree that failing hurts?

Failing sucks. Failing makes liars out of ourselves.

All of us at some time have tried something that didn’t work out. The reasons we tried that thing and the reasons it didn’t work out often will reveal more about ourselves than we care to stop and examine. In part, that is why this book was written: to examine something that didn’t work out as I expected, and to share the learning from that experience with you, the reader.

Before I get into this in too much detail, it is worth noting that what I did was in many respects a litany of failures, however it has culminated into something that is of some worth and value. If I were to cut my losses now and walk away, it might well have been wasted effort. It is as though I am now at a point of being able to effect change. The question is what will happen next. Let’s leave my story until a little later, for now I want to make the case for why this book is necessary.

As children, we fail constantly, and we also keep trying. And hopefully, we find some success along the way. Along with success, maybe more importantly than the success itself, is the encouragement we receive from others. The reality is that too often encouragement becomes devalued as lip service or otherwise no effort is made to extend a word of inspiration because we think we have nothing to offer or that the input is unnecessary. How wrong could we be! Later in this book, we’ll pick up the reason why encouragement is perhaps an overlooked jewel, as well as having a crucial role of putting success into perspective. But for the moment, this is a book about a difficult and somewhat unpleasant topic: failure. So please join me as we embrace it, try to define it, and fathom how failure is as much our friend as it is a necessary part of the process in achievement.

There is such optimism and excitement at the point of trying. And conversely, often such crushing defeat at the point of failure.

Failure. One of the great taboos. The question which I really want to explore though is not how to make ourselves immune to failure, as much as it might seem to be good to be able to limit failure. There is some need to protect ourselves from failing unnecessarily and in costly ways, but even so, all failure does bring with it the seeds of opportunity. This is the true meaning of disruptive intervention, and is also reflected in the Chinese word for crisis where this word is mixed with the word for opportunity.

There is a sense at which limiting failure makes good sense. By no means am I promoting failure as an enjoyable experience. The irony is that by protecting ourselves from failure we increase our capacity to create, to push through points of resistance, and enable our ability to be vulnerable, to learn, and to experience those things that will lead us towards new growth. But as much as we need to protect ourselves from the destructive influences of failure, it is also true that only through the experience of failure can we really find the hidden potential that drives our survival instinct to create. Vulnerability is interesting territory. But what is really interesting is what do we do at both bookends of this experience- both the domain where we shield ourselves from loss and failure, and the other end of the spectrum where we are completely out of control in an environment which is mercilessly ripping our expectations and dreams apart. Perhaps most importantly is now we respond in the events that happen after that point of failure which seems have shattered our plans and stopped us in our tracks. What we do after failure is the most important and difficult part of this journey. And it is also the part of the journey where we can exercise the most control, even though we find ourselves in a place often with the least amount of resources.

Inherent to the human condition is the capacity for resourcefulness. Imagination, grit, faith, hope, love are abstract qualities that we all possess, and too often we take for granted. We get to a position and feel as though we are finished and ruined, but often it is in those times that we are just getting started.

“What we do after failure is the most important and difficult part of this journey.” Let’s return to this sentence from the previous paragraph and examine the implications that this holds for us all. If the journey continues after this poignant place called failure, it would then follow that failure is not final. Of course, this is a decision that we must chose to make, and choosing not to make a decision is still a choice. In many circumstances, it is the toughest decision that people will ever be confronted with. It is at the rock bottom of our experience, and can be among the most hauntingly lonely existential places to visit. Some never return from that place. Some chose to remain there, alive but living a soulless existence for the rest of their seemingly pathetic lives.

In this book, I have drawn upon my reflections, and the first thing I was us to recognise is that failure is part of a process, and not a singular event. Time as a continuum exists well beyond that dark moment of failure. It might be hard to see at the time, but it is true.

Whatever it takes, we must find a way to keep going. This might mean that we have a requirement to surrender our dreams and expectations in accepting a new reality, but even if that is the case, we must keep moving forward.

The title of this book is taken from a saying I overhead once. I don’t know who said this saying, and I have rarely heard it since, but it stuck in my mind. Even searching on Google, I have not been able to find this saying in the lexicon of modern parlance. Was I mistaken in hearing this saying? That could have been the case, but even so, it still makes sense as an expression which captures the theme of this book. What was this saying I overhead: “All backswing, no hit.”

Can you make sense of this saying? It paints an image of a baseball batsman who is taking all the time to wind up in preparation to hit the ball, and in doing so looking spectacular awaiting to receive the ball that is about to be thrown in a pitch, except that the batsman never follows through to hit the ball. Or maybe it means that the batman does follow through, but completely misses the pitch. It is an expression of someone being of no substance, or no ability. In this regard, it might also be seen as a personal reflection of being unable to ever hit the ball and only ever striking out when at the plate awaiting the pitch to be thrown.

In sport, there is actually a correlation between not hitting and hitting. This is well documented through sporting statistics, and even the greatest sportsmen will tell you that there is a lot of failure that needs to be pushed through before finding greatness. Natural talent only counts for so much. Of course, there will always be those people who are much better at something than others, but there is a time when everyone experienced times of learning. Everyone had their seasons of not hitting and striking out in some way early in their careers. Even the best of those who walk among us have seasons of seemingly catastrophic defeat when they seem to be at their finest hours.

I have also taken this saying to explore the relationship between the wind up of the bat and the follow through in swinging at the pitch. Sometimes, when we have been held back by endless winters of failure, we can lose our resolve to follow through. Sometimes even winding up is an effort. Mostly, we get to a point where we will got through the motions of winding up, only to give up at the time of follow through and so there is never any potential for hitting. Defeating ourselves is the worst form of failure, and often it is understandably done because it at least seems in the short term to be less painful.

But don’t take my word for it. Go an look at some of the baseball statistics of some of the worst hitters and the big hitter so all time in the big leagues. The same holds true for cricket as well, as it does for basketball and for receivers in American Football.

Is this science? Probably not, but it has merit as anecdotal evidence that there is a pattern worth further examination.

The thing to remember is that not everyone is going to be a big hitter. Why is this? Is it genetic, luck, application, talent? And why are people who seemingly just as applied never suited to baseball? Is hitting big across the diamond the only measure of worth?

After a recent epic quest, I related more and more to this saying, often associating this with my own performance in my own internal dialogue. Initially, I heard it as critical and censoring. But then I saw the glimmer of hope and opportunity which is hidden within this expression. I want to explore that together, and I go further to suggest this illustrates how searingly deep this runs into our psyche: “Because no one likes to strike out.” It is a baseball metaphor. And through this book I want to unpack it with you.

So lets begin this journey. And as we do, let’s proceed by recognising that we, too, can be big hitters, but first we need a better understanding of what this means.

NOTE: I think this is too long for a single chapter. Ideally, I want to keep every chapter under 1,000 words. Your thoughts?

Dedication

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Inge inadvertently enabled something worthy out of utterly tragic circumstances.

There are many people who have impact in our lives. Inge was one of these people in my life.

Her influence was modest, and she was only ever a friendly face in the crowd, but someone who would always take the time to make sure I felt welcomed.

It is worth us all reflecting that in moments of hopelessness, that our impact extends far beyond what we might ever know.

She protected me from a ferocious social setting, and the nastiness of convention. An unparalleled kindness, and a trait that was celebrated too often after the fact.

Let’s be mindful of the support others bring in our lives while we can express it directly to them.

A great Australian once exhorted a group assembled in Kalgoorlie of which I was also a part to “never, ever give up” in our pursuit of realising the justices that are warranted across society. By his own example, he has demonstrated this fact, and his words have echoed as inspiration through the lives of many more since then.

Inge almost certainly would have known this Australian who spoke at this conference at Kalgoorlie, and it is likely that he too benefitted from the reassuring counsel that she would deliver to all those in her orbit as an expression of encouragement to maintain a sense of resolve with a cheerful smile in spite of difficulties.

This journey described in this book could never have been mapped in advance, and was mostly an exercise in misadventure. Even so, but for the kindness of Inge this might never had been possible.

She was always here for us, and it is a shame we could have done more in her time of need.

Her death was a trigger that set me off on this journey, and her legacy remains something I wish to uphold through my dedication of this book (which I am presently writing).

Amos 5:21-24 taken from The Message:

“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice – oceans of it.
I want fairness – rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”

All Backswing

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IMG_4134The next series of posts are essentially draft entries in the soon to be published book “All Backswing” which I am aiming for launch at the end of June 2016.

All Backswing will feature 100 chapters to talk about a manifesto for change by examining the motivation for what eventually became the 10 City Bridge Run, commentary about the journey itself, and importantly lessons learnt as it relates to undertaking epic endeavours that seek to make a difference.

Your feedback counts. Please edit, share, comment, or illustrate in any way you know best.

The book is being written for you. If you like something, please let me know. If you have questions, please ask me. If you think I am off the path, tell me. Your feedback is like oxygen to me. Thank you in advance.