Have you ever wanted to have a “redo” button? A chance to wind things back and get a second chance at a moment in time? Well, I have, but sadly, they haven’t been invented….yet.
But, there is something that is almost just as good. Almost, if you are aware of the critical moment and you have the mental framework to take advantage of it. We call this a Phoenix Moment. It is a chance to start again and do it better than before, but unfortunately, many people talk themselves out of this opportunity.
I have been thinking about this lately, not only from some of my own experiences up at USAT Nationals, but of the countless opportunities that will present themselves to the thousands of athletes at IM Louisville tomorrow.
One such moment was as I was coming out of T1 during the sprint tri up at USAT Nationals on Aug 10th. I hit the pavement to mount my bike and came to realize that my front tire was flat. I started to change it to realize that I didn’t have a long enough stem on my tube, nor the strength or tool to remove the extender from the flat tube to put it on my new one. I was then off to find the mechanics to enlist their help, but they were not so easy to find. Once there, we find out that my extender is internally threaded and the valve core needs to come out. In my new tube, the core was not re-moveable. Luckily, the mechanics had an extender that would fit on my tube, they pumped up my tire and I was finally set to get on my way.
At this point, I was 5+ minutes into my ordeal, but it felt like 20. I had a target of going for the National Championship win, but this was long gone. Having looked at last year’s results the night before, I thought that I might have a chance to make up enough time to still earn a Team USA spot.
This was my Phoenix Moment.
I could have thrown in the towel and called it a day. I could have rolled through the race and focused on my bad luck. With my original race target unattainable, I could have come unhinged and melted down. I could have. Instead, I chose to take advantage of my Phoenix Moment by acknowledging my situation, reframing my target, recommitting my focus and embracing the effort that lay ahead of me.
I rode as hard as I could for the 20K, I hoped off and ran as hard as I could….for a mile. It is at this point where I was able to count how many 45-49 Men were in front of me. I stopped counting at 40 because I thought the run loop went on the same course as the day before. The overwhelming negative thought hit me that there was no way I could make it up to 25th place with so far to run to the turn around and I gave up.
But, in 20 more steps I noticed that the turnaround was only another 50 meters up the trail instead of 600 meters.
This was my Phoenix Moment.
I again had an opportunity to make a focused choice. Would I choose to just cruise in making the assumption that it was an impossible task or would I choose to stay in the moment and fight to the end. I gave myself the chance to succeed and got back on pace and raced it to the finish.
Ultimately, I finished 49th and then was bumped to 60th after receiving a 2 min penalty for dropping my swim cap. I finished with the same result for my target of getting a Team USA spot if I wouldn’t have tried at all. But the difference is that by trying, I had a chance. It turned out to be a small chance, but a chance none the less. If I didn’t try, my chance would have been zero for sure.
The Phoenix Moment is all about creating the mental framing where the target that is in your sight is still possible. It is still within reach. There is still hope. And because of that, all of the work and effort that you put into that moment is worth it.
Heather had a Phoenix Moment in the swim of the sprint race at USAT Nationals and fought back to earn a Team USA spot. Sola had one at Tri Indy with a chain mechanical and came back to win her category. Frank had one as he fought off cramps at Steelhead 70.3 to have a PR. Justin had one the day that he lost the Leader’s Jersey at the Tour of America’s Dairyland. The list goes on and on and on. All of those situations where you need to choose to stay engaged in the moment and continue with purpose or to throw your hands up in self-declared defeat and choose to do less than your best because things have not gone to plan. Because things did not turn out perfect.
Tomorrow morning all of those athletes who are choosing to start IM Louisville 2014 will have a day filled with Phoenix Moments. Should I go or stop. Will I try or not. Is this a game ender or do I re-frame and move forward. Do I say stop or do I say bring it on and give myself the chance, the opportunity to see what I can do.
The Phoenix Moment: a point in time where the choice is made to rise up out of the flames and ashes of catastrophe, bad luck, disappointment, mayhem, derailment and misfortune. It is a point in time to hit a pre-emptive “redo” button. It is a point in time where you will look back and evaluate the decision and choice that you made and you will either be thankful of the path you took or you will wish that that magical button was real.