If I told you that every autobiography ever written is a book of fiction, what would you say? I'm not saying that they were meant to be fiction but just that they really aren't “the truth.”
Let's say I was a politician who just finished a career in public life and I decided to write my memoir, you might imagine that the preface starts with me chopping down a cherry tree as a young child and my parents remarking that I was destined for a life of service, meanwhile the book would continue to prove this as my destiny. If I were a recovering alcoholic with 20 years of sobriety looking to write a book to give back to the community that helped get me sober you might imagine a preface that started with me under a bridge on a cold rainy day, no money, no one else to call... the proverbial rock bottom. Here's the kicker, what if the books were written by the same person. What if the books just encapsulated different times in this person's life, would one be true and the other not true, would you have a different perspective if you read both of them versus having just read one. Would your perspective differ depending on what book you read or in which order you read them? Clearly the answer is yes, clearly knowing the whole story give you the best picture and the most clarity.
Now what if we changed the perspective and instead of reading a book about another person's life, we're talking about the story you created of your life, the one you have stored in your brain... do you consider the story that you have tucked away in your head to be a “true story”? Is it possible that the story in your head is a story of fiction, once again not fiction like you are trying to mislead someone, or in this case yourself, but fiction like it's just not “the truth”? What if this story’s SOLE purpose is to perpetuate your grand identity...the idea here is this; what if the stories you have in your head that form how you “feel” about yourself are in your control, what if those stories weren’t fact but they were formed by you by picking and choosing memories from the past to “fit” your picture of yourself. What if these stories where, with a little work changeable?
In the book “The Brave Athlete, Calm the F*#k Down” I was introduced to a concept that I really liked. The authors, Simon Marshall, PHD & Lesley Paterson talk about one’s perception of reality and use a chess board and chess pieces to illuminate the point. In their example the chess board is reality, all the things in life that are provable/definitive are squares on the chessboard – I'm 5”9’, I went to Boston University, I am married and I have two children – all squares on my board. The chess pieces on the other hand are subjective, I’m overweight, I’m short, I’m a procrastinator – all pieces on my chess board. In their example “you” are not the board or the pieces – you are an observer, the player, you can place the pieces where ever you would like and as your “emotional intelligence” grows you increase the size of the board by adding more spaces – the board grows as your perception increases...I will not try to recreate this here, instead encourage you to read it for yourself...To me this was hugely moving, I never before thought of myself as an independent observer of my own life – capable of stepping outside my life and looking at it like this...this idea actually opened up a new thought for me, one that I have embraced and works while for me. In my metaphor the facts of my life are like Lego blocks, with these blocks I can assemble them to my choosing, as my EQ increases, I can add blocks – I can then assemble them to empower me as I need and as I see fit – conscientiously and on purpose...Not randomly or to reinforce an antiquated story of myself formulated in another time in my life, one that has me stuck in the past versus calling me into a future of my choosing!
In the context of this blog and its relationship to mindset, particularly with regards to endurance sports, I challenge you to look at the Lego Endurance World you constructed. Is it built with thoughts and memories from your grammar school playground? Are you a Boston Qualified Marathoner who was the last one picked for dodge ball in 5th grade but your prevailing mindset isn’t the elite 1% group you are a member of but rather “no one wants you on their team”? It may sound funny written here but I know and you know – heck we all do it so look no further than the mirror, accomplished people who you cannot give a complement to without them giving a self-deprecating remark immediately following the complement!
“Great race on Saturday, Amazing, 3rd in your age group, great job!”
“Oh that, it was nothing...there were three races in town so the comp was weak...I think there was a wreck on the freeway also so some people could make it...and also the course was downhill for me but uphill for everyone else...so really I got lucky!”
While this is a bit over the top, I think you get the point...In this short form Blog I really just want to point out a concept, give you something to think about, the books below are great resources to get deeper in the weeds.
Finally, I encourage you to look at the stories from your past that are fueling your life, what unempowering stories do you have from your past that you are propping up by looking throughout your life for evidence that they are true? Pick great stories about yourself and who you are then find the evidence that they are true – it's much more fun! Take it from me Ironman 70.3 World Championship competitor not the little Portuguese kid who got cut from the Basketball team Junior year!
Brave Athlete Calm The F$%K Down!
By Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson
The Untethered Soul
By Micheal A. Singer