Believe – and the rest will follow


Dave 'Bickers' Bickley has been a great mate, easily completing events with less training than me! Here we are after the Leeds Half Marathon last weekend.

It’s finally all beginning to come together now.

To achieve anything, you have to start with belief. I was going to write ‘you have to tell yourself you can do it’, but that’s not quite the same thing. You have to believe it, without a doubt, and until you do, you’ll never achieve it.

If you take on a big challenge, other people’s opinions are especially difficult because they won’t believe you can do it, nobody else will either, and you’ll have found the magical reassurance that the intelligent part of your brain is always looking for anyway: it can’t be done. I don’t think I can do it. My friends and family don’t think I can do it (and they really love me!). No one in their right mind thinks I can do it. It can’t be done.

I went to a really good conference in January about ‘breakthroughs’, where an entertaining and motivational guy called Nick Alford spoke about how he’d trained for and successfully swum the English Channel. If you ever get chance to see him speak, I’d recommend it.

I didn’t get chance to ask him, but I wondered when the point was that he’d had his breakthrough. For sure, it wasn’t when he finally stepped on that beach in France.

I think it was when he started to believe he could swim the channel. When everyone said ‘you must be mad’, he just thought: ‘I will do this’.

So one of the biggest things to think about, if you want to succeed at big challenges, is how to get yourself to believe –without a doubt – you can do it. It may be difficult, dangerous and so on, but I believe I not only can do it, I will do it.

I don’t know the answer as to how you get that belief, but the good news is that it’s in your own head, and expressed in the words you use. And because of that, you have control over those things and you can change them!

I lost count of how many people were running the London Marathon for their mum, dad, brother or sister, loved ones they’d lost, causes they believed in. How many times do you see people achieve the most wonderful things after resolving to fight a situation or a disease that has had such a terrible impact on their lives.

I suspect a lot of those people were running the marathon. Not because they’d asked themselves whether they were capable of it, rather more because they’d just resolved that they could.

All of which is a bit philosophical, but relevant to this blog (which is in fact turning into a bit of a sermon!).

Without planning things properly, I’ve ended up running the London Marathon, cycling 50 miles around Norfolk, running the Leeds Half Marathon, and having my first open water swimming session all in the last three weeks. I like to think of it as a kind of ‘slow motion Iron Man’, to prepare me for the real thing next year.


Pedal Norfolk 50-mile day 3 was the first time I'd been on a bike for nearly 10 months

That made me reflect on what I’m doing.

If you’re going to be successful, in order to reinforce belief you need evidence. If I’m going to do Iron Man, can I actually cycle 112 miles? Yes I can. Can I actually run a Marathon? Well after last month, yes I can. Can I swim 2.3 miles in the sea? I don’t know yet, but after my half mile open water swim this morning, yes I think I’ll be able to (but more evidence needed).

Can I do all three together within 17 hours? I don’t know. But I’m going to find out 😉

If I leave you with a thought, it would be to encourage you to believe you can achieve the things you want in life, and to resolve yourself to do them. And then also to encourage – no, to dare – the people around you to believe in themselves too.

So when the next person says to you “I’d love to learn to water ski / drive / learn a new language” etc., don’t let them dwell on the excuses that follow the “but”. There’s always a but. Don’t let them off the hook! Instead, tell them you believe in them and what they want to do, and help them go about compiling the evidence to support the belief. It’s much easier from there.


Swimming coach Tanya Bartram appears Hobbit-like from the undergrowth to help me overcome my fear of openwater swimming

I’m privileged to have people around me who do that for me (not least my wonderful wife Val), who not only believe but invest their time too. I deliberately use the word ‘privileged’ rather than ‘lucky’, because there’s no luck involved.


Tanya thought it would be funny to post this less-than-flattering pic of me.

And I hope that by giving back I can help other people’s dreams come equally true. While having a lot of fun along the way!


Bicks and I have had a lot of fun cycling and running together


The downside of carboloading with Bicks is that it usually involves beer, though with a name like Sharp I couldn't resist it


2 responses to “Believe – and the rest will follow

  1. Pingback: Believe – and the rest will follow – Featured Blog·

  2. Pingback: If it ain’t raining, it ain’t training | Look Sharp in Lycra·

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