This article is about busting the myth around social media and how we actually get to achieve these amazing feats we see every day on our social media channels and it’s something that’s of particular importance to me.
Social media often shows us a grabbed moment. One that people feel will be the most impactful on a given audience, one that will genuinely inspire others, one that is often the most “beautiful” and “powerful” moment out of a long chain of events that will have happened before and after. But the truth is, this incredible snapshot we see can become the opposite of its intended desire and actually instead becomes a barrier to the audience. A case of “no way could I do that!” and “how did they do that?” with these negative thoughts subconsciously starts to create barriers to our progress and then keeps us from holding onto our thus far successful patterns.
(A long day on photo shoot, grabbing moments to share with the world. How about what’s behind the image?)
What a lot of social media posts fail to do is share the story behind the picture. The story that could actually help, inspire and direct others to achieve. This back story that deserves pride of place to these amazing moments and even more so the story to their journey to even be able to get these moments. Many years of working with adventure and endurance athletes have allowed me to see what goes on behind these inspirational moments and to me, these journeys are far more inspirational than the shared snapshots. Don’t get me wrong, I understand we cannot share a whole journey in one photo and yes, we do want the one we share to be a good one! But how as individuals can we also demonstrate the monumental effort that sits either side? Perhaps creating a link to a BIO of their journey so far (thus helping people to understand) could be an interesting starting point…
These barriers have become more apparent when I speak to students within the adventure world. These students are struggling to see how others have gotten to where they are and therefore are struggling to create a path of their own. It’s ok to keep saying work hard and it will happen, but that doesn’t give them the how- what specifics do I need to focus on? Or must I just work hard generally? What they are not seeing is how these individuals toed the line for years before the image, how they put in early mornings, late nights, the blood, the sweat and the tears. How they might have failed multiple times which in turn all added up to help them stay on their path and ultimately achieving. Sometimes we jump on a path that may be very loosely linked to our end goal, but it’s enough to take us a few steps closer to our actual path.
When we all look back on our own journey, each of us will have times of success. But if you look back a bit further, you’ll most definitely see a consistent pattern of effort and real hard work that lead to it. The bits that most people won’t ever see.
Below are a couple of moments from my timeline, to put into contexts these elements were taken 5 years after working in Outdoor Education and 22 years from where I am now.
I set up both Salisbury tri and cycling club to gain a better understanding of athletes and to give me the beginnings of a small audience to coach. This block gave me a great starting jump into my career and my business, but it also took up a lot of time, energy and an involvement with local politics far greater than I really had personal interest in. I knew the ultimate worth in doing this, and my time setting up the club only confirmed that my desire to follow a career in coaching was the right choice for me, but it didn’t come without its difficulties. Not only was I there for every session throughout the week regardless of any other commitments, but I was also doing a lot of additional work throughout the rest of the week to make the clubs successful, and this was a big balancing act between work, family and my own existing training.
When I was racing ironman events in a semi-professional capacity, crossing the line was the end of a very long line of habit and routine which had got me to that place. It was months and months of planning my training each week to fit in with family commitments, completing the run part of my training with a fully loaded double buggy, finding safer routes to complete cycle training with a trailer in tow or getting up early to complete the cycling training before anyone else was up. The results I got as an ironman athlete weren’t based on luck on the day, they were based on endless cycles of planning and commitment, getting the job done.
An excellent example of this quiet hard work would be Steve Day-3 times World 24hr champion. Steve had been racing MTB for years and wanted the title for a long time, so we started working together and made some big changes to his training. It took him a while to trust in the process and a small amount of time to see progress, but he locked into the training, trusted that what he was doing was good and worked exceptionally hard to achieve results. Steve is a very modest man and therefore his celebratory posts are few and far between, but the period behind those winning podium photos are hours and hours of consistent hard work. They’re getting up at 4am to train religiously without impacting on family time, they’re going to bed early so he’s got the energy to get up, they’re laying everything out ready so he can tiptoe out without waking the wife! Steve’s hard work, commitment at balancing life and work and his consistency to his training are what got him his 1st World title 18 months later and then his 2nd and 3rd
Another great example would be Wendy Searle and her first expedition to reach the south pole solo and unsupported. Wendy’s journey started years before the point she reached the pole and the very famous (and well deserved) South Pole Photo to prove it. Wendy’s initial journey started with consistent rejection until she found sponsors that understood her goal and it continued with carefully balancing her very busy family life with all the things, she needed to get done to make her goal a success- long tyre pulls, submersions in city centre rivers to acclimatise to working in cold conditions, sleeping under canvas in her garden to get used to her kit. Wendy did an exceptional job in succeeding in her goal- but she worked really hard to get there!
I feel that as a coach, breaking down these kinds of barriers are so important. Why? Well, I love seeing people achieve and I hate barriers (like seriously they bug me daily). On my own social media, I try and show that consistency and hard work (though they look boring at times) are what’s needed to progress. Everyday yoga clips, morning runs in disgusting weather and so on, it’s an important part of how I got here and how I intend to stay and grow.
This morning, just like every morning, I got up early and started my routine. Whether I’ve chosen to share it with the world in that given moment or not, it still happened. I got up and did my social media to support the building of my business. I did a yoga session to work on recovery and flexibility (damn I’m not getting any younger). I got myself and the dog out for a run. I got home and did a short core session outside. I showered and ate the same breakfast I’ve had for the past 5 years because I know it gives me all the nutrients I need. The routine I’ve settled into so well with life as it sits right now is what works- the hidden boring bit that doesn’t usually create wildly engaging content but is what gives you the results at the end of the day.
(The 4.30am routine, in photo)
Please do reach out if you have any questions, I am always happy to share more and offer any advice that could help you on your journey.
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