A year ago, Karen and I pushed a pin into the roadmap of our life and declared “next stop, the TCS New York City Marathon, 2018”. We tapped SUBMIT on the website instantly sending our order to Dream Travel Canada for two guaranteed entries to the November 2018 event. A wave of warm energy, excitement and expectation washed through me – I was literally tingling.
I immediately got on my iPhone and purchased Sinatra’s New York, New York, then put on my running gear and headphones, and burst out the door into a cool November afternoon. I walked and ran for an hour – listening to Frank, over and over again.
Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York….these “running shoes”, are longing to stray, right through the very heart of it, New York, New York….
As I write this, butterflies return just thinking about that day. This wouldn’t be just any old trip, running event, or #vacay. This would be the realization of a Vision I have seen from afar for decades. I had never been to New York and now finally, I was going to act on that beckoning from the Big Apple to come and experience the crossroads of the world. #bucketlist
"I plan – because I know it’s how I can get what I want"
I plan – because I know it’s how I can get what I want. So my next thoughts were to decide on my key priorities. I settled on 3: Training for and completing the NYC Marathon would:
· be FUN
· improve my health and wellbeing
· inspire others to imagine the future they want, and do what it takes to get it.
Then on to defining goals: get to know my new friend (NYC) by researching and learning as much as I could about her, from pre-European contact to today; do the physical/mental training and eating necessary to be able to complete the Marathon; care for my body to help it repair as the training would undoubtedly tear it apart, and overcome my self conscious introversion to share my journey with others. From there I selected the strategies, actions and tasks needed to get ‘er done.
The internet provides access to knowledge and perspective like never before and I would gobble it up over the next year by asking a thousand questions on Google and YouTube and listening to stories told through the music and memories of others. I’d would tweak and adjust my tried and true training and nutrition guides that helped me prepare for previous marathons – customizing them by using my own experience and actively listening to my body. I’d ensure enough rest & recovery and I’d work with my chiropractor to keep another back spasm from cutting this short, and I’d share the journey for inspiration to anyone wanting it by periodically recording video and posting it to Linked In and Facebook because I think the marathon is in many ways symbolic of our business and career journeys and someone might be inspired to see a regular guy like me do this.
From there I set about executing, monitoring, adjusting and simply continuing to put one foot in front of the other – just keep moving. Each day I got closer to New York and my expectations for the City and the Experience soared.
Halloween 2018 we started the final leg to the TCS New York City Marathon driving from our home in British Columbia to our hotel at the Calgary International Airport. The next morning on the way to check in for our flight to Newark we chatted with the pilot of our aircraft sharing with him the purpose of our trip. His eyes sparkled and I know he was thinking – maybe I could/want to do that. I know ‘cause he found me in Newark Airport to talk more about it.
7 hours later our subway train arrived at Penn New York and we proceeded up the stairs into the City, no different than 5.6 million New Yorkers do every day!
We emerged from underground at about 5pm local at Madison Square Garden, on 7th Avenue and West 32 Street. I did a slow 360°turn absorbing my new surroundings. I felt like I had been magically teleported into a new world - that felt strangely familiar - and yet NOTHING like I had ever experienced before. I have travelled to many big cities in the world, but this???!! #WOW
100 times as big as that day a year ago when we signed up, a wave of warm energy, excitement and realization washed through me – but this time it was a full on tsunami!
“I LOVE IT HERE!” I declared unabashedly out loud – and no one even flinched – they must have felt the same J That wild feeling has not left me for one minute to this day – what kind of drug is this?
I believe we can focus our attention on the energy we want and I try to center mine on positive, “anything is possible”, “unlimited potential”, “thinking big”, the power of synergy between people, gratitude and a “we can do it” attitude.
The drug I’m on is the positive energy of millions of people working toward something, for something, pursuing their dreams. As I stepped into mid-town Manhattan, I tapped into an artesian well of positive energy and downright determination. I understand why native New Yorker Alicia Keys sings, “there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York”. I get it.
I know some people are looking at me puzzled when I share this. They are thinking, “but he’s an ecologist – don’t ecologists like nature? New York is so not nature.”
Here’s the thing. New York City is an ecosystem heavily dominated and influenced by humans.
I am a Systems Ecologist. “Systems ecology is an interdisciplinary field of ecology, a subset of Earth system science, that takes a holistic approach to the study of ecological systems, especially ecosystems. Systems ecology focuses on interactions and transactions within and between biological and ecological systems, and is especially concerned with the way the functioning of ecosystems can be influenced by human interventions. ” I’m enjoying learning from and about this ecosystem!
It’s true, anything is possible. I ran the New York City Marathon – if that isn’t proof, I don’t know what is. I don’t have the body of a stereotypical runner and I’m not fast. But a fast time wasn’t my key priority - it wasn’t my measuring stick. I’m more like our persistence hunting ancestors who ran very long, slow and unrelenting in pursuit of animals that would always beat them in a sprint. Instead, the humans wore them down by pursuing them relentlessly and finally overcoming them. Ask any of the experts and they’ll tell you that persistence is the most important factor for success.
I saw this little sign in a shop in Bryant Park. “Create The Life You Want” I would have bought it no matter the price but alas the shop was closed – so I did the next best thing and took a pic and I’m sharing it with you.
I am convinced that understanding system dynamics, in particular the Cumulative Effects of system interactions, holds the answer to How To Create The Life ( outcome ) You Want. We are the only animals capable of envisioning a future that does not exist and then reverse engineering the steps needed to create it. This systems understanding is in essence Cumulative Effects knowledge and you can use it to Write Your Own Story. When you have a Vision of the future you want, when you align your Key Priorities to that and you pursue your goals relentlessly, success will be yours.
And my new friend New York City reminded me that anything is possible.