The fastest team completed the course in just over 12 hours. My team? Double that. Now 24 hours is a long time to be out there in the wilderness trying to find your way, and while the distances of the various disciplines sound tame the terrain wasn’t. At the end of the race we had climbed roughly 4km in elevation, rarely seeing a flat piece of land anywhere. Bundu-bashing through walking trails while carrying our bikes, paddling across the Maguga Dam at midnight and dealing with blisters, lack of sleep and eventually running out of water tends to make “racing” these events a bit slower than say, the half Ironmans or marathons we have done in the past.

Anyhow, we were on track for an 18 hour finish when we left the last transition point at 3 am. With only the 14 km hike ahead of us we figured we had (so far) crushed the race as amateurs and as long as we kept our wits about us the final stretch would be manageable. Later we would find out that we were in 7th place overall when we left the transition area, not bad! Having plotted our route and made note of the various landmarks we needed to look out for (harder when dark but bot completely impossible) we headed out, confident in our direction. We routinely checked the map to see we were on course and barring some minor detours largely got it right. Until we didn’t. For we made a simple, yet crucial mistake about 7km in. Instead of going right, we went left. And the reason we did that is because, all things considered we thought we were somewhere that we weren’t and quickly made a decision. Instead of properly evaluating where we were, we made a hasty assessment and continued on. While we weren’t the only team to do so, it added another 6 hours onto our time. Examining our GPS route (for safety reasons and spectator enjoyment all teams carry a GPS that can be tracked), we later saw where we had taken a wrong turn.

The point is – we thought we were somewhere (which we weren’t) and we were mistakenly confident that we had everything under control (we didn’t). That error came about for many reasons but it has stuck with me over the past month as a helpful life lesson. If you can’t (or won’t) accurately make an assessment of where you are right now, how will you ever get to where you want to go in life? If you aren’t in a major rush it isn’t a problem, and indeed the meandering route sometimes yields unexpected results, but in order to accomplish anything of consequence in life, you generally have to apply yourself again and again and again, daily, weekly, monthly, to get meaningful results. I was lucky that I experienced the route deviation in a simple endurance race, rather than a decade of life, but it has changed how I view where I want to get to in the future.

The right way to ride

I used to think questions like “where do you see yourself in five years?” had almost zero value in contemplating due to the fact that very few people seem to be able to predict the future, let alone be prepared for all the challenges life throws your way. While I am a big advocate for planning for the future, as I believe plans create a framework for us to suit as need be, I have rarely considered where I am right now and how that affects my future.

Being honest with yourself and your current situation can go a long way to ensuring you reach your milestones along the journey of life. Many people avoid this step however as sometimes an honest assessment isn’t very flattering. If you want to launch a successful media company with millions of revenue, taking stock of the fact that you only have one client currently seems to dim the eventual goal. I would argue though that realising you have one client now, means you have an opportunity to review what is or isn’t successful in how you produce work for that client and then you can get another client based on what works. And another and another and another… As Bill Gates said “most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in ten”.

So the next time you find yourself looking “to be somewhere in five years”, how about taking stock of where you are right now instead? After all, we don’t all need to get lost in eSwatini to realise that few things rarely go according to plan.

“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Rob Christian.

The wrong way to ride

All photo credit to Terence Vrugtman so check him out for some more epic pics.