Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Will adopting social tools leverage adaptation?

After a week of hiking in Ireland (hence the picture), it's hard to pick up blogging again. Thankfully, Michael Brito got me going and an interesting conversation, with an old theme, unfolded:

Michael, Olivier and I took it a bit further and ended up with indeed the ancient argument:

My answer? Yes and no - let me explain please

I've contemplated this before, in what still is my first and foremost best post, bringing together The Almighty Forces: Adopt vs Adapt, Push vs Pull, Anonymity vs Intimacy, Distance vs Proximity, Change vs Growth. Tonight added to that: Olivier's normal army unit and the commando unit, and my "shoving in the tools helps leveraging, shifting from change to growth".
That's exactly what I did last week in Ireland, where I hiked 100 kilometres without training

I'm not an experienced walker. We had two dogs, now one, and with the desk job I have that's most of the walking I'll do on a day. I prepared myself extremely well, bringing band aids, sandwich bags, breaking in my boots (to work) and vastly underestimated what it means to walk for 6-7 hours straight, let alone the rugged terrain, let alone climbing (and descending) 500 meters within a few 100 metres

I whined. I died. And revived. And repeated all that quite a few times.
I started with a fresh blister from breaking in the boots pictured above on my last day of work (yes I took full three days of "breaking in my boots" by wearing them to work), decided to walk barefoot after 2 kilometres, which ended successfully only because the first day was a mere 8 kilometres (we flew in, advanced by bus and had to make it in time for the first game of footsie of course).

On the second day, I got the proper blister treatment yet caught one on the left heel after 2 hours. Took proper care of that though, and I finished the 20 kilometres. However, when I took a shower the next day the Compeeds came off and there was a 2 euro-wide hole in my left heel, and a 50-cent one in my right.
I decided to call it a day - to get myself the proper gear

I took a ride into the next town, had my first Guinness at eleven and texted my dear hiking buddies that they should hurry before I'd finish it all. Fifteen minutes later, I got serious.
I went to the one store there was, bought proper hiking shoes and even took half an hour to do so. Then, I went off to buy socks - woolen socks I was told to get. I bought one pair of 70% wool yet didn't feel comfortable doing so, and found out there was a sports store as well.
Excellent luck again. Where the shoe store didn't have proper socks, the sports one did. I bought myself two pair of 1000 mile socks and tried them on within my newly bought shoes. Narrow fit, so good, from what I had been told that morning by my friends and experienced walkers / hikers

I went to the pharmacist, bought myself 40 euro worth of Compeed, slapped on some medi-tape and waterproof band aid, and decided to refrain from the painkillers as the total combination of it all could damage my feet beyond recognition. You shouldn't change too many variables if you want to be able to solve a problem that may arise later; a wise lesson learned very early on in my IT career

Then there I was, fully prepared - again. Yet this time, for real

The next day I packed my steel-toed boots in my back pack, put on the Compeed, the 1000 mile socks, and the shoes. I started walking, and it felt good - for a while.
I hadn't broken in these new shoes and started to feel something at every step, yet was fairly confident I could walk like this for two hours before anything bad would occur.
After the two hours I took a rest, and it appeared that my shoes were tied too tight: the inner sock had left its imprint on my feet and what I felt was the rubbing of the outer sock on the inner one. Nothing that would cause blisters (there was a money back guarantee on the first 1000 miles) but I now knew where the feeling came from

I decided to tighten the shoe laces slightly looser, and left the boots in front of a house that seemed abandoned but turned out to be inhabited - someone in Ireland will be walking in my army boots for many years to come, I think hope.
With the 1.5 kilo less in my back pack, I finished the 30 kilometres walk of that day and even walked ahead a bit for a while, in stead of hopelessly trailing at the end.
I absolutely loved the view, and the walk. We walked the Kerry Way and it is an astonishingly rough landscape where rocks seems to grow from the ground. For the curious among you, we walked it clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, starting being dropped off 8 kilometres before Caherdaniel and ending in Killarney

I walked the 18 kilometres the next day, and the 15 the day after - both climbs ascending and descending 500 metres, and I was dead-beat. I almost nodded off at dinner, in the taxi ride to the nearest bar (and footsie!) and it wasn't until 11 PM that I started to feel not tired anymore.
At that moment, I decided I'd also skip the last day.
I did, and had a great time. I was wide awake all day, and we partied deep into the morning, some of us leaving earlier than others. After 5 hours of sleep, the last day was one of relaxation and buying gifts for our loved ones, while managing to have a few pints as well

Then the bus came again, the flight, and my wife and daughters gave me a great welcome at Schiphol, along with other wives and daughters (and sons) from my friends. The rest is history, and I'm now eagerly waiting for my blisters to heal so I can start walking a few days every week.
I loved the walking, really, yet with the absolute lack of training I had and overweight I have, it was killing. I would have gladly paid a thousand euros on the 18 and 15 kilometres trips to be magically wizardried into the next ho(s)tel.
But I now am so much the wiser. I formally apologised on Twitter for my hubris before the start, and I now know how it's done. And I like how it's done, and I want to do more. I see the benefits, the joys, in short: the added value

What does this story have to do with the one stated at the very beginning of this post? Everything

  • I Adopted shoes and backpack, yet didn't Adapt to them - I didn't even put the back pack on my back until I dropped it off at Schiphol. I lent it from the neighbours, and they had one back strap fashionably cut across from the left top side to the right bottom - I really thought I could carry it like that for a week. Breaking in army boots by wearing them to a desk job for three days? I don't have to go there, do you think?
  • I Pushed preparation without even paying attention to the warnings I got from my Twitter friends and others - I thought I could Pull it all off (pun intended) like I can make an upcoming headache vanish in thin air
  • I chose Anonymity over Intimacy even though I have lived with most for years - we never did anything like this at University. Did I even call one of them to ask what it's like? No
  • So I kept the Distance in stead of getting close into their Proximity. I found out during the week that some run every week, some others walk every month, and some others prepared by walking three days a week for six weeks
  • Olivier's normal army unit is what I was, whereas this called for a commando unit: a short fierce burst yet sustained over a few days. In the light of the walk, I'm fairly sure I wouldn't even have qualified to enter into Olivier's army unit, but then again I didn't have to do army duty to begin with
  • But it all proved my point of "shoving in the tools helps leveraging, shifting from change to growth":
  • I, who likes to lie in the jacuzzi at spare moments, who goes on all-inclusive holidays for vacation, who hasn't done sports for 25 years, and if I tell you my sports consisted of 5 years of tennis and 3 years of being a baseball catcher you'll laugh even harder, I simply decided to Change into a walker / hiker. Did that work? Hell no. I utterly, miserably failed. And it wasn't until I accepted that fact, that I could embrace Growth - or rather, was willing to do whatever it took to "learn the tricks of the trade"

Did I learn the tricks of the trade? Yes. Am I proficient at them? LOL. But I now know how it's done, and with what it's done.
But first and foremost, I know why I want to do it (again)

So, I'll do it again - but not in my current form. I'll drop 15 kg this year, starting 2 days ago, and will walk 2-3 hours a week for now. Our next appointment is at the next football championships, and my evil plan is to be a lean and mean walking machine by then - hang on

How did I get here, from the mindset above, in only one week? Now there is an interesting question, and I will give you the answer. Bear in mind that what I went through, is perfectly similar to what Enterprises will go through when they take on a new challenge. Also, pay very close attention to the fact that I went to this ordeal and know the How and With What, yet that it is only the Why that is now fixating my future - by my own choice.

  • I adopted, but failed. Adaptation was what I needed to do
  • I Pushed, and resisted the Pull - I hubrised (making them up as we go!) myself immortaly
  • With all the Intimacy I had, I preferred Anonymity - we all emailed a bit, but my level of (in)experience was conveniently not introduced by me
  • Did I close the Distance and decide to visit one of my friends, on going to this great event? No - there's always an excuse to not do so - whereas two of these friends live within 5 kilometres of where I currently work
  • Changing into a walker didn't work - you can't change from an overweight, untrained guy into a hiker. I'm incredibly strong for someone who doesn't work out at all, but endurance is an extremely different kind of topic

However, the bottom line is right here: I started this walk with my army boots, tennis socks and band aids. I took it head-on from the very start, even before it started. I underestimated it all, recuperated in time, and went from huge failure to pretty good success - in the eyes of the average beholder within our pack of nine.
For me, it was a great success, because I failed fast and hard - and had my dear friends stand by me all the way

The morale of this story? I'll buy my neighbour a new back pack. Who knows what that will lead to

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