I wanted to tell you something about my recent triathlon training camp in Portugal. Yes, I know – on the face of it, it’s got very little to do with business. But just bear with me for a bit. Anyway, just to set the record straight, I’m no super-athlete, just an enthusiastic amateur who likes to keep fit. Plus, my friends were going on this triathlon holiday, and I didn’t want to miss out. On the evening of our arrival, we studied the weeks’ schedule as we slurped our first beer. It looked very scary: 2 or 3 training sessions per day, a duathlon called ‘Hell on the Hills’, an aquathon, and a 100 km mountain bike ride. I seriously wondered what I’d let myself in for.
Twelve hours later, we were in the ocean. It was day-break, and as we swam around ‘Shark Fin Rock’, we were rewarded by seeing the sky bleed pink and purple into the horizon as the sun rose. It was utterly magical. But the challenges were very real. The rolling hills and olive-lined avenues of the Algarve were the setting for some serious time trial leg-burn. Then we were introduced to a 20% hill known as ‘the Punisher’: no mention of that one in the brochure.
By day 3, it felt like the lower half of my body belonged to someone else. If my Mum had been there, I would have asked her to write me a note. Empty blisters of ibuprofen and paracetamol littered my room. The initial enthusiasm had evaporated, and I wondered how I’d get though the rest of the week. Then, as the schedule rolled on, something shifted: I could do this, after all. My legs felt surprisingly ok, and I went back to having fun. I left the camp with a real sense of achievement – and some dodgy tan lines.
Back in Law Land, I’m still feeling that shift. The magnolia office walls may be a different backdrop to the sparkling azure of the Algarve, but somehow, the difficult things don’t seem quite as tricky. I’ve relished drilling down into my legal drafting, and I’ve felt perspicacious in the advice that I’ve given. I’ve converted some question marks over the business into decisions.
And I’ve learned that progress, in all things, has a lot to do with pushing at imagined boundaries, and being pleasantly surprised when they give way.