“I showed everyone I was vulnerable and, in the end, people respect that more.”
One of the most difficult things I’ve found in making the step changes I need in my life has been the ability to talk about how I feel to others and in essence let off steam in a control way. You see, I am prone to being much like a champagne bottle or can of pop: once shaken enough and the cork/stopper is released all of the emotion discharges uncontrolled ready to hit the nearest object. At least I recognise this now and am some way towards controlling that part but I still remain uncomfortable revealing my feelings to others despite the problems that this can create. So I was quite interested to see Bradley Wiggins latest interview which appeared in today’s Guardian and his discussion of the management of his emotions. The cynics amongst you might want to file this in the “further excuses” file of the Wiggins cabinet, but let’s give the guy the benefit of the doubt here. From someone who has had first hand experience of similar feelings this sounds more real and experienced than made-up and opportunist.
“You think it’s the end of the world and you’re completely alone in the whole saga.”
Now that is something I can relate to. It doesn’t matter that Brad is talking about the Tour de France, recognised as the world’s toughest sporting event, I’m talking about life of which the Tour is a part but which is just as much if not more so a tough, punishing and relentless event. I know, I felt the same way last year with the world against me as I tried to struggle on with the weight of expectation pressing heavy on my shoulders. In fact, looking around me today I can see some friends and colleagues displaying similar signs. I’ve come a long way in being able to do that. And so to some extent has Wiggins. Interestingly it is the outburst he gave during the Tour at Ax-3 Domaines which I can see as his champagne cork moment, the point at which letting guard down and venting his feelings actually gives him more freedom but like me I’m sure he would liked to have done that differently.
The pattern is similar to previous closed season interviews he has given, the opening involving a drink an all too familiar feature some would say. But maybe this suggests that Brad is pretty fragile, that maybe he needs help and support. One of the major problems in this world is that we expect successful people to be individually strong. Maybe it is that view which is delusional rather than the emotions being a frailty or handicap. Enough pop-pyschology. What is obvious, to me at least, is that building barriers to prevent the outside world from leaking in seems to have been counter-productive for Brad and certainly has been for me so the lesson here is actually to let the world back in but in a more measured way. For me it was a media diet, maybe for Wiggins its for Sky to adopt a more relaxed approach – relaxation clearly does us all the world of good.
The final thing to strike me from the interview was the often overlooked support we get at these times.
“He looks across our tiny table at Cath, who has joined us. In his book, Cath writes a lovely tribute to Wiggins, as her husband and a cyclist. “It was probably only a few weeks ago that I felt you were back again,” Cath says. “I’m getting there,” Wiggins replies wryly.”
I suppose for a lot of the last 18 months I’ve been absent for Mrs AB. But I know that without the love and support of Mrs AB I wouldn’t have made the progress I have. That is always worth remembering.
Like Brad I’m getting there but still have a way to go, altering my own goals and changing the path towards them. We’ll both get there in the end even if the goal is something different. What is most important is being ourselves. Good luck Brad and Illegitimi non carborundum.