Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 18th 2015 Contents B5
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
There is something to be said for
having no other option but to succeed.
Consider a situation in which success
is not the most important thing, but
the only thing. That s true commit-
ment. It s rare, but when recognised
it demands my respect.
I caught up with Bryan, a longtime
teammate, now retired, who is still a
current United States record holder.
Our lucid conversation drifted to touch
on the moments in our swimming
careers when we had each been faced
with the possibility of an untimely
Bryan encouraged me to recount
occasions when I had absolutely no
other option but to make the finals,
win the swim off, get on the podium
or be forced to hang up the suit and
goggles for good.
Those outcomes were absolutely nec-
essary to justify the past sacrifices and
future ones required of being a pro-
fessional athlete. In those incredibly
stressful instances, the finality of losing
the way of life that I had grown to love
was confronted face to face.
Each of them they found me without
a backup plan, leaving me no other
option but to succeed.
However, Bryan explained that when
he faced the end as he touched the wall
at the finish of his race at the Olympic
Trials, his back up plan was there wait-
ing and ready to go.
He immediately continued on to pur-
sue his MBA. He said that before the
stressful final race, he was comforted
by the notion of continuity that his
plans presented, and that it helped to
reduce the pressure.
Today, he still wonders if the outcome
of the race would have been different
without the safety net of the MBA back
He asked me about my back up plan
for Rio. I laughed.
Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military
strategist and philosopher famously
noted in his acclaimed work, The Art
Of War, that simply having the option
for retreat greatly weakened an army s
Thus increasing the likelihood of a
retreat when things became difficult.
In his writings, he explained that when
an army is faced with no other option
but the attainment of victory or death,
they were capable of incredible things
that would surely be underestimated
by the enemy, and so tip the scales
He advocated taking advantage of
this phenomenon when necessary by
fighting a pitched battle with a river,
cliff or large body of water to the rear,
so as to prevent a possible rout.
This morning I grabbed a coffee with
Dave, an Australian friend here. Like a
duck swimming smoothly, Dave s
demeanour was calm on the surface,
while working constantly with pas-
sionate, unseen intensity below.
Despite having recently had a fourth
child, Dave had just quit a lucrative job
in the tech industry to pursue a startup
His approach to this challenging
endeavour was fascinating to me.
Dave described his current situation
as analogous to being besieged in
bunker with a core group of command-
ers planning high stakes decisions while
under the pressure of stressful time
It was interesting to me that he chose
that analogy, as being besieged implied
that there could be no retreat. He said
to the victor would go the spoils, and
the investors would remain on their
side so long as they were winning.
Dave said that he felt compelled to
take the risk because he wanted to be
part of something that he was proud
of. He hoped that his kids would one
day be proud of his creativity and vision.
I am constantly asked about what I
plan to pursue after this swimming
chapter. In hindsight, my plans for after
professional sport have changed con-
tinually over the last few years as a
result of my perspective on life changing
as I grow.
I recognise that it will surely change
again along with my plans. I too am
working towards something to be proud
of; the satisfaction of creating a dream
and bringing it to fruition. I imagine
being the first athlete from Trinidad
and Tobago to compete in a fifth
Olympiad with another appearance in
the finals and atop the podium.
Like Dave, I too feel besieged, deep
in my focused bunker preparing and
planning for battles to come.
I can relate to his supporters remain-
ing at his side so long as he remains
successful. Everything I do has the
power of purpose behind it. It s clear,
and increasing real and detailed as we
get closer, but this vision stops imme-
diately after the race.
I don t know with certainty what
will be next, just possibilities. However
unlike Bryan, on the night of the finals,
there will be no thoughts directed
towards contingency plans that might
weaken my resolve.
There never is. With nowhere to
retreat to, there can be no retreat. Suc-
cess becomes the only option, and as
Sun Tzu recognised long ago, that
makes you extremely dangerous!
Tweet George on Twitter:
No choice but
I am constantly asked about what I plan to pursue after this
swimming chapter. In hindsight, my plans for after professional
sport have changed continually over the last few years as a result
of my perspective on life changing as I grow.
Links Archive August 17th 2015 August 19th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page