the bunker

Jan 12, 2017

I’m sat around a table, in what can only be described as a bunker, somewhere in Birmingham. Around me, talking animatedly, are the guys from myfastestmile. I sit back in my chair and listen to their stories. Stories of discontent with sport, with learning, with the system. “The system is broken”. “Sport is becoming morally bankrupt.” “There is a pursuit of self glory and promotion over helping people to be their best.”

This is at the heart of myfastestmile’s purpose. Helping people to be their best, but doing that in a different way. By taking a different journey, one greater than just focusing on wins, medals and hitting key performance indicators. A journey based on capacity building. Building social capacity, cultural capacity and human capacity. Doing that without taking short cuts and without asking people to just survive and be less like themselves. A journey that is unique, bespoke and celebrates the wonderful certainty of uncertainty in life, not one of mass production.

How have I ended up sat around this table? It started by standing around another table in a coffee bar in Marlow on a dark November evening a little over a year ago. To get to sit at that one you had to tell a story. The story I told of a Sam was my first step on taking that different journey. At the end of the evening I was sat around the table with more questions and no real answers. I think that may have put others off who were searching for simple solutions, but there is no one size fits all recipe for the pursuit of betterment. So I kept coming back, each time being another step on the journey. With each step I didn’t find answers but I began to question my beliefs, my values and my purpose as a teacher and coach. I saw that there was a different way, a more humane way, a more caring way:

  • A way that focuses on people, not on prizes.
  • A way based on dialogue and questioning rather than monologue and answers.
  • A way based on emergence and adaptability rather than one of mechanical efficiency.
  • A way based on humility, embracing uncertainty rather than guaranteeing a predictable outcome.
  • A way of patience and deeply developing craftsmanship, rather than of short cuts, interventions and quick fixes.
  • A way that sees the deep interconnectedness with the environment, rather than a souless, decontextualised assembly line.
  • A way that looks to surf and learn, rather than live at the poles.
  • A way of embracing multiple perspectives, rather than the ‘best and only way’
  • A way based on values and principles to shape the direction rather than of KPIs and metrics to dictate the end point.
  • A way where the story of the journey is just as important as the destination.

I have found that is a journey I’m willing to take. Not just in my professional life as a PE Teacher, but in my personal life as well. I look forward to my next step on the journey with myfastestmile. It isn’t a journey about being able run your fastest, or win golds, or meet your targets, although that could very well happen. At it’s very essence the journey is about being better. A better version than you are now, by committing yourself to a challenge beyond your current capability. It is by taking the steps on that journey you will learn more about yourself. It is by knowing yourself you then have the potential to become better. The failure or the success of the challenge is not important, it is the willingness to embrace the challenge in the first place.

myfasestmile don’t want to break the system they want to build something new that would replace it. Something that is fit for purpose. Something that is human, personal and direct and puts people at the centre. Are you ready to do your fastest mile?