Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Man Behind The Man

After I got over the phase of reading every every book I could find about the investment banks (for whatever reason), I started getting into books about running and cycling. Listening to an audio book about running while actually running is fun. In fact, I highly recommend "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" by Haruki Murakami. Marakumi is a highly regarded Japanese novelist with a catalog of highly acclaimed books. I've never read any of his fiction, as my tastes in fiction tend to run in "spy thriller at the airport bookstore" circles, but "What I Think About..." was fantastic.

Anyhow, I listened to the two Lance Armstrong autobiographies in the last few weeks. So when I came across "We Might As Well Win" by Johan Bruyneel in the Kindle store last night, I pushed the appropriate buttons and bought it.

Bruyneel was Lance Armstrong's race team director for all his Tour De France wins. In his books, Lance did a decent enough job of talking about his Tour experiences. But the description of Bruyneel's book promised more back room behind the scenes stuff about how the Tour works and how it is raced. I like that kind of stuff. I also like meeting the "man behind the man", so I was immediately attracted to this book.

I identify with the man behind the man. Throughout my business career, I've had the best luck at being the man behind the man. The one time I stepped out on my own it ended in disaster.

I started my own business in 2003. Over the next 5 years it grew. We where not the biggest, but we where far from the smallest. We had a lot going for us. But in the end I didn't have the skills to handle it. I'm good at some things and terrible at others. I failed to recognize this and my attempts to fix the situation and ask for help where poor at best. I pretty much lost my mind. I drank too much. I gained 80 pounds. The stress and bad vibes piled up and it became clear in 2008 that I needed to get out.

That failure and the interpersonal fallout with my former partners still hurts. But everything happens for a reason. It's after I left the business I quite drinking and set about getting myself in shape physically. In fact, I got a lot of things in my life back in shape, because a lot had suffered. I know I'm better for it. But the regret still lingers. I'm sure that will continue for some time.

I've been wanting to write that down for awhile.

I have a good situation now. Family life is good. My health is good. I have not had a drink in two years nor do I even think about it. I work for and with some great people and I am set up to contribute in a way that focuses on my skill set. I couldn't be happier.

And I stopped identifying so much with my career. As a result, life balance became so much easier to achieve. It's funny how a shift in self perception can trigger so much change.

You have to learn how to compromise. Any alliance or partnership is built on mutual compromise. None of us have all the answers. But if you (or when you finally) understand this, and then commit to looking, people have a way of finding each other.

The man behind the man. Or the woman behind the woman. Or any combination thereof. And it's fluid - we can be each other's "behind the scene" person. It just depends on the situation.

Our community, the triathlon and endurance sports community, is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. You have people from all walks of life coming together in a sport with all sort of ability levels and all sorts of unique experiences that are freely shared within the community. And everyone is willing to learn as well. Sure, there is some elitism from time to time, and I've seen my share of discussion threads get heated, but that's to be expected. And it's much worse elsewhere.

I recognize that I am in recovery. From the drinking sure, but also from a lot more than that. I got into training and racing for the direct physical benefits. I also had an idea that there would be psychological benefits. What I didn't expect was to find a community that is so damn supportive and encouraging.

Thank you, everybody.


Jennifer said...

Thank God for second, third, and fourth chances!

I am with you 100% on the community of support. Before, during and after my marathon, the cocoon of support by both family, friends and sports community was necessary for me to survive.

Unknown said...

Great honest open post! Thanks for sharing!


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