Marcel Hirscher and Enough

In a post about WeWork’s shelved IPO, Morgan Housel shared a great story about Marcel Hirscher. Marcel Hirscher is considered the greatest alpine skier in historyand has been at the top of his game over the past few years.

Many believed he had a good 5-8 years at the top left in him. But, he had different ideas.

“I always wanted to quit when I knew I could still win races,” he said. He avoided major injuries and wanted to stop before his luck ran out. “I want to play football with my little boy, climb the mountains and do things without any serious injury or pain.”

Such sentiment is rare and admirable in professional athletes. Instead of more records, money, and fame, Marcel Hirscher chose to say enough.

And, as Morgan Housel reflected in his post –

The idea of having “enough” might look like conservatism, leaving opportunity and potential on the table.

I don’t think that’s right.

“Enough” is realizing that the opposite – an insatiable appetite for more – will push you to the point of regret.

Eighteen years later

I realized a week ago that it had been eighteen years since my father passed away. Or, more accurately, chose to pass away.

Reflecting on the experience, I realize I’ve never held his decision to take his life against him. For a few years, I wished he’d explained why. I also wished for guidance during a challenging period in my final year of college. But, there was still no negativity involved – it was his life to take after all.

And, while I might have been disappointed for a while, that experience has undeniably made me a better human being. I accumulated significant scar tissue on taking responsibility, expressing gratitude, love, and care and on not taking this life for granted.

Such scar tissue changes who you are and how you operate. It certainly did for me.

Eighteen years on, my memories of my father are few and far between. I’ve spent significantly more time at a more formative stage without him. So, that’s understandable.

I also chose to not dwell on some of the negative memories leading up to his eventual passing. Instead, the one thing I’ve chosen to remember was his insistence on owning good things. We didn’t have many things at home. But, the things we owned were good. He took a lot of pride in investing in a few, quality, things and experiences. I am very similar in that regard and grateful for that lesson.

There are more lessons I’ve taken away from that experience – perhaps I’ll get to those in next year’s note.

Reflecting on this reminds me of how little control we have on what happens to us. As a family, the aftermath of this event was devastating given it came out of the blue.

But, it also reminds me that we have more control than we think in shaping our future (with help from Lady luck) with the nature of our response.

For those of you who’ve gone through an unexpected bereavement, I hope you’ll take away the fact that, with time, love, and care… it gets better.

Self talk – smart vs. adaptable, constructive, and thoughtful

When dealing with ambiguity and change, self-talk that relies on variants of “I’m smart enough and will figure it out” tends to produce significantly worse results than a variant of “Not the smartest tool in the shed – but, can be the most adaptable, constructive, and thoughtful.”

While the former points to a desire to find better answers quickly, the latter leads to better questions.

And, while better questions are more valuable than better answers even in normal circumstances, they’re many times more valuable in periods of change*.

*which, lets face it, is a lot of the time. :-)

The path to lasting happiness

The notion that the path to lasting happiness is paved with gratitude is often hard to understand. After all, what does gratitude look like on a daily basis?

So, here’s a different, more concrete, framing.

The path to lasting happiness is not needing..

…sickness to be grateful for a healthy body and mind.

…a bad relationship to appreciate the good ones.

…and misfortune to be thankful for everything that is working well.

Fitness-as-a-state

One way to think about getting fit is to invest in activities that contribute to better fitness. Going to the gym, playing a sport, taking a swim, and running are all activities that help us get fitter.

That said, investing in such activities takes time. And, there are phases in our life when other priorities take precedence. These priorities should ideally be few and far between but there are times when family and some crucial periods in our careers can take precedence in the amount of time they take.

In these times, I’ve found it helpful to double down on fitness-as-a-state. This means doing many little things throughout the day to be fitter – e.g., walking up the stairs, taking the scenic route to the bathroom, investing in and working with a standing desk, and replacing sitting meetings with standing and walking meetings.

In the ideal world, we’d be able to supplement such investments with activities too. But, if we find ourselves in a bind, fitness-as-a-state is a great place to start.

Misunderstood introverts

“Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.” | Susan Cain

This is for all those misunderstood closet introverts who get stared at when they turn down company to eat lunch alone, who find pockets in their day to take a walk outdoors, or who just put their headphones on to get some quiet time to recharge their batteries.

You are not alone. :-)

Talent and winning

I came across a quote by Rafael Nadal – “People get confused about talent. Talent isn’t striking the ball well, or very hard. Some play beautifully, some flawlessly, others run brilliantly. But in all sport the final objective is to win. So, in summary, the person who wins the most is the one with the most talent”

It is an interesting quote that perhaps applies better to individual sports than team sports.  That said, it outlines Nadal’s belief that raw potential that isn’t put to use to deliver results doesn’t amount to much.

While the quote is as much about talent as it is about his ethos and incredible desire to win, there’s something to be said for such single mindedness.

Especially as he moved one step closer to taking over the mantle of the most successful tennis player of all time from my favorite player. :-)