On Olympians, The Rockies and The Quest for Sustainable Energy

My business partner and I are both working on something similar. While he works with some of the world’s leading climate scientists, renowned activist celebrities and industry leading partners to help lead a charge to deliver the important message of investing in the power of the sun, wind and water, I’m working to try to harness the power of intention, passion, gratitude, authenticity, inspiration (and more!). The results, however, are the same; we’re both working toward finding a way to create a sustainable energy solution.

Just as “real” sustainable energy seems to elude most of us (though according to studies more than 80% of the American public says they want it), the more “spiritual” (for lack of a better word) sustainable energy continues to elude me. And just as big oil companies seem to be able to knock down the potentially planet saving efforts of people like my business partner and his colleagues, big negativity (or big fear or…) knocks me down. Time and time again.

And…just as we know where the sun, wind and water can be found, I can find energy. I’m the king of finding energy sources. I know that if I write, or run, or (these days) standup paddle, or see live music, or have a really great conversation, or make progress on a project, or…that my energy tanks will runneth over. My problem isn’t finding energy – it’s keeping it. Sustaining it. Just as momentum can sometimes prove fleeting. It seems so can my energy.

The roller coaster-like ups and downs of charging and running out of charge are exhausting. When brilliant, inspired flashes like the finale of a Fourth of July fireworks show are followed by some kind of negative force, the light that the fireworks left in the sky goes dark. I go dark. The negative forces often come unexpectedly. And what’s worse is that most of the time these forces shouldn’t be strong enough to douse my energy. My flame should be able to withstand what is sometimes just a gentle breeze – little more than a whisper – but there I am, crumbling like the proverbial house of cards.

So, how to overcome this? How to sustain my energy? The sun, wind and water can provide all the energy we need for my business partner’s efforts, but how do I harness the powers around me to maintain my energy levels? How do I avoid what feels like an afternoon post-coffee crash on steroids? Moreover, how do I avoid the roller coaster not-so-thrill-ride of it happening over and over and over again? How do I not only sustain that energy, but also create a surplus that compensates for anyone or anything that tries to take it away from me? Go ahead, take my energy – I’ve got plenty in reserve.

I found the solution. Or I think I did.

Last Wednesday was one of those days that I may forever look back on as a potential game changer. A potential life changer. I spent a good part of the day at the US Olympic Swim Trials. Being around so many elite athletes, including those who are the absolutely best in the world, like Michael Phlelps, Missy Franklin and others, was truly energizing. It wasn’t watching them perform that drove me. It was being around so much dedication, determination and sacrifice. Talent alone won’t get anyone to the swim trials. These athletes – all of them – have sacrificed in a way that I’m not even sure I can fully understand. I was especially moved by those athletes who will never make the Olympics, but still worked and sacrificed their asses off just to get to the Trials.

After leaving Omaha, I went to Colorado to spend 24 hours at a cabin retreat with a good friend (the same one who tried to kill me last October!). Prior to driving up to the cabin, we went on a short, three-mile run. Three-miles is easy. Three miles after a 4:30 am wake-up call and at an elevation of more than 8,000 feet is more challenging. Add heat and some good hills and three miles becomes more difficult. But I did it. Not only that, I did it fairly easily. Wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever run, but I felt fine.

It was after watching the Olympians, after that run, and while talking with my friend about his plans for a new business and my plans for A Day Well Lived that the key to sustainable energy hit me: Push.

I suppose it’s kind of obvious that complacency leads to an energy drain, but I don’t think that I’m talking about complacency. I’m talking about being content. For years, I always thought that being content was the real “c-word,” but more recently, I have settled into a comfortable groove (maybe “comfort” is another “c-word,” as is “complacency” and “cruise” for that matter!). I have my routine. Life is good. But, somewhere along the line, even though I was genuinely doing what I loved (for the most part!), I keep having this energy crisis.

But, when I push – I have enough energy to last.

I was reminded in the mountains that when I push myself – I’m impervious to even the naysayers. Why? Because if I’m truly pushing myself to my limits, it doesn’t matter what anyone says. When I push myself to my limits – there is no failure. That’s why I felt this sense of envy when I was watching the Olympic hopefuls. I was envious of their ability to focus. Their ability to push. And after listening to a conversation between a swimmer and her dad, I was especially envious of their ability to move on after defeat. I sucked today. I’ll be back. That’s all she needed to say and she was moving on. (The way her dad handled it was entirely different. I wanted to throttle him. Perhaps that’s another post.)

We’re told over and over to “follow our passions.” To follow our dreams. Between the Olympians and the Rockies (and, I admit, reading a healthy amount of Laird Hamilton’s book), I realized that statement is wrong. Our passions shouldn’t lead us. We should push our passions. We need to lead. I need to lead. I don’t want to follow my dreams. Following is passive. I want to push them. I want to be active. In doing so, I’ll push myself.

And if I do that…I’ll have all the energy I need.

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