My son, Matt, is currently living in the Isle of Man & this year he has had opportunity to witness the Isle of Man TT Races for the first time.
As a result, so have I.
I cannot believe how emotional I have been watching Matt’s videos of the riders in practice & competition.
I also cannot believe that these true sporting heroes who make Formula One drivers look like kindergarten apprentices, brave manholes, white lines, stone walls, trees (not to mention Manx birdlife) as they compete on just under 38 miles of ordinary roads that form part of Manx life for the other 51 weeks a year.
There are no safety cages; there are no traction control systems; there are no multimillion, star-spangled kitsch deals.
But there are true sporting heroes who ride on the knife-edge between victory & disaster, using nothing more than concentration, understanding their machine, guts & a lot of faith to break the 200mph barrier on 2 wheels (this year’s average speed for one rider was 131.98mph over the lap). These guys often live in camping trailers & work every day in the real world: they are heroes of the ordinary people,
Don’t get me wrong, Formula One is right up there with skill, daring & danger … but so are their rewards.
With the TT it’s about personal challenge, personal pride, pushing the limits & achieving greatness.
I find it refreshing in a world of dumbing-down to mediocrity, the nanny state & an obsession with health & safety, plus the obligatory ambulance-chasing lawyers fuelling our desire for personal gain at no cost, that events like the TT still exist.
Risk taking in a risk-averse culture is never going to sit comfortably for the majority.
Many of us are too prone to sitting back & letting the world (& our life) pass by without achieving anything. We become content with the status quo.
We have almost lost a true perspective of what success is.
Making a success in life is much more than how big our house is, how many followers we have on Twitter, what labels we wear, what car we drive, what postcode/zip code area we live in.
I think that it’s about
- being able to get up in the morning knowing that we are achieving something to which we’re committed & believe in (at work, home & play)
- pushing the limits of what we have achieved to achieve even greater (that may be a very small but significant step)
- going to bed at the end of the day knowing that we’ve given it our best shot
This involves time, effort, commitment, sometimes help from others, but above all, risk.
When we venture into the unknown we rarely know how the story will end. It can be frightening, threatening, intimidating, even overwhelming. But, I believe that we will never discover our true potential until we are prepared to ride the edge of our comfort zones, dicing with the chance that we may fail (not achieve our target) & we may have to start again or rethink.
I also believe that it is worth the risk. We rarely achieve something of significance without stepping out. Look at people like Edison, Gates, Dyson, Branson, etc. Risk was & is an integral part of their success, as is perseverance in the face of adversity.
This was personified for me this week in Michael Dunlop crashing out at the TT, only to be back in the saddle the next day, pressing on. These guys have a desire to be the best they can & to take the risks getting there.
We may not be willing or needing to make life & death decisions on a daily basis, but many of us have fallen into the valley of complacency or quite simply come up against the mountain of disbelief. Getting out of the valley or over the mountain is not easy, but it is possible. Perhaps we, like the everyday, often unsung heroes of the TT should get back on our bikes & continue pursuing our targets.
Success, personal or otherwise, is rarely easy & often comes at a price, but the rewards & personal fulfilment are so much greater than the risks we take.
Perhaps we need to start small: set a target we can achieve with a bit of stretch, achieve it & move on. Don’t aim for the stars & hit the moon: the chances of you becoming disappointed, disillusioned & discouraged is too great. Set a realistic target: reach it move on. You will go far past the moon & get much closer to the stars eventually.
As one reporter mentioned in the paper today, if the TT was conceived today rather than 1907 it would never get off the drawing board. There are fatal crashes every year involving riders & spectators alike. They know the risks, but still take them.
Sometimes the steps & risks we need to take seem ludicrous to others, but don’t be put off: go for it. There are already too many people who will say (& are saying), “If only I’d tried!”
Thank goodness for a Government that, as imperfect as any other, still allows the TT to continue.
TT Riders I salute you.
Readers I encourage you.
Take cafe until next time …