What's this all about?

A new adventure beckons, and this is once again about my personal journey to make it happen.

It might make you laugh; it might make you cry, but by 'eck lads and lasses, it will be worth a quick skeg every now and then, tha's for sure.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Take a breath ... a long, deep breath

1. Introduction.

Jon Taylor is someone I've known since 2007, when he was the sponsor of my first piece of work for the Co-operative Bank. A three-phase £14m investment proposal to the Board for a replacement telephony infrastructure.

Since then Jon and I have had conversations about all sorts of things, including him playing 'Parkinson' as we co-presented to his Life & Pensions team in 2012 and, in 2015, he became the skipper of the competing boat in the Thames 100km Row.

Last week Jon sent me an email with a link to a blog, by Seth Godin. The message in the blog is simple: the distance from 'can' to 'will' keeps getting larger if we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by all the things we could do, but can't find the courage or time to actually commit.

I'm hoping Jon was referring to my ability to commit, as opposed to the last 3 years of me trying to do too much. Well this blog entry is about committing to the final adventure.

2. Spinning Plates

It's 23:37hrs on Sunday and I'm just sitting down to write this entry. Why am I writing it at this time of night? Because I want to and because I have several things to get across before my brain will allow me to sleep. I also promised myself I'd stick to an ever decreasingly flexible schedule, because that's partially what will either make r break this challenge: meeting the deadlines I've set and achieving the goals I need to surpass.

I've agreed with Lucia that I'll commit 7 hours a week to planning and training, so there are a number of things I have to fit into that time, without compromising work or home life. Last week for example I spent some time working out what the challenges were and what my immediate priorities are, on top of having my first PT session and starting some exercise homework from Thor's and Wonder Woman's love-child (see previous blog entry if you're unsure who that is).

Just the very start of organising ... but I love it (luckily).

Reading through the list of things to organise, I realised that committing to The Magnificent 7 set of challenges both scares me and thrills me. It brings with it a sense of long term purpose as well as long term commitment, as new skills are required: skills such as the one that Bob 'the flying fish' Proctor tried to help me with over a year ago, but I couldn't achieve.

No, no, no ... it's not that I couldn't; it's that I didn't. Why? Because I hadn't committed to it with a specific end in sight. Well now I do need to commit to it and hopefully an introduction by Andy Smith (who has committed to take part in some of the Magnificent 7 events) means I have a great coaching opportunity, but I need the balls to see it through. This brings us to news of one of the proposed challenges for 2017: the open water swim.

Those who know me know that my challenges have had one or more of the following components: they probably require a lot of training, might be somewhat iconic, and certainly are not unique but are in no way 'mainstream'.

Well challenge #5 of The Magnificent 7 is all three of the above, as 6 others share responsibility to swim 23 miles in open water: welcome to the Loch Ness Relay Swim.

Great concept sketch work by the brilliant Howard Rushfirth.
Each of the 7 challenges will get a banner like this, with space for sponsors underneath.

My training programme for the swim will be designed this week, giving me just under 15 months to build up my swimming strength, improve (or rather get) the breathing technique right, and try an outdoor 'swimmette' in Salford Quays later in 2016.

There are already 5 people wanting to commit to this challenge, but I'm keen to find the 6th person to join me ASAP. Are you bonkers enough?

Of course this is just one of the 7 challenges I need to organise and train for, but luckily I can feed off the motivation and sheer stupidity that other folk have, who are just as bonkers as I am; willing to pledge their time and sanity (and money, as these aren't free to do) to take part.

One such crazy guy is Martin Ladbrooke, who has already completed a day on the 7-seat circular bike with me (2013) and was a crew member in the Thames 100km Row ... and got a special mention in my recent article in the Northern Life magazine.

Thank you Martin, and now to his sons Luke and Max too. Thanks also to Chris Greer and (hopefully) to Sam from Communisis. You'll be awesome and I'll just be glad of getting to the end of my proposed 5-mile stint.

I'm also thrilled to welcome Tina Boden onto one or more of the challenges. Tina is writing her own blog (Tina's blog can be found here) about her personal journey to be involved. It's going to be a great read!

3. The PR and sponsorship machine. A request from me.

The logo for The Magnificent 7 is now out in the public domain, but I expect only a handful of people will have seen it and even less than that will know what the full story is.

To get public interest and (crucially) the interest of potential sponsors, I need to get the message out there in a sustained and consistent programme. Whilst I can do some of the legwork, contacts and industry expertise are going to be essential.

Whilst the booking of the events has to take place first (with dates confirmed), I'm looking for people who have the expertise and track record in PR and sponsorship to help me ... big style! If you can offer help, support, advice, output, or warm intro's to your network of contacts I would be forever grateful.

As this blog develops, including photographic evidence of training starting for Challenge #1 in next month's first entry, the (hopefully) increasing number of readers will be able to spread the message, but if we're to raise the highest ever total for charity - and remember the 2015 Thames 100km Row raised over £29000 - then this needs exposure beyond anything I've ever done before.

You can help make that difference, through spreading news about this blog or helping create media interest; through to putting potential sponsors in touch with me to ask about the sponsors packages.

Even little things, like the briefest of mentions I had on the Chris Evans BBC2 Breakfast Show in Wednesday last week, creates awareness. Every little helps (I must stop using that tagline, in case Tesco decides to get shirty with me).

4. And finally: behind every man ....

This final set of challenges wouldn't be possible without the support of my wife. A woman who knew what she was getting herself into when we first started going out, just over 5 years ago ... and has said "Yes you crazy man" to my desire to finish my adventurous challenges with a bang.

Who knew, five years one month and 10 days ago, what we were letting ourselves in for. NOW who seems the crazy one ha ha.

And who knows what life will be like in another 5 years Mrs M, but for now (at 01:10hrs on Monday morning) I'll sign off from this blog and go upstairs to gently hug you as you sleep.  Goodnight folks.