In 1914, Sir Ernest Shakleton posted this Wanted Ad for a crew to assist him in his Trans-Antarctic Expedition:
“MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS.”
It was rumored that he received over 500 applicants for a crew of 28 men, despite the warnings of the ad. Setting sail in a ship called “The Endurance,” their mission was to be the first crew to traverse the continent of Antarctica, through the South Pole.
Running through each of us is an undercurrent of longing for heroic adventure, both despite and because of the obstacles along the way. Testing ourselves outside of the confines of our societal routines and structure is when we feel most alive, most engaged, and most authentically ourselves. We dream about finish lines and benchmarked achievements, but our deepest inner stirring is urging us towards endurance itself:
The painful, unraveling, self-defining, uncertainty of the journey.
Before Shakleton and his crew even reached Antarctica, The Endurance became trapped in sea ice. Shakleton immediately abandoned the original mission and shifted his priorities towards keeping the crew alive and returning them to safety once the ice melted. He realized that his men would have to wait out the coming winter in the ship’s cramped quarters so he narrowed in on the importance of routine and keeping up morale.
Much of what we know as coaches and what we all know collectively as humans comes from structure and repeatability. The consistency of our behavioral patterns is reliable and comfortable. Within the context of triathlon, the patterns of build cycles give us a framework to efficiently coach you towards your goals.
Races create an easy structure to coach from. As coaches, we know how to prepare you to race and how to analyze your results. We know how to create benchmarks towards your goals, and how to navigate the flow of a race season. You hired us to lead you because within the context of training for a triathlon, we know how to anticipate what you’ll need to be successful.
Then suddenly, just as the 2020 season was getting started, the way that we needed to and wanted to support you was different. It was different for each athlete, and sometimes it was different for each athlete, each day, hour by hour. Conversations became more centered around the evolving landscape of the world and how we were all coping and reconfiguring our lives. Of course we talked about training, but it was impossible to compartmentalize any one aspect of our lives from another.
What we appreciated most was that you let us in. At a time where anything that felt inauthentic began to crumble, you stayed open and allowed yourselves to lean on us in ways that we needed just as much as you did.
Within the darkest waters of uncertainty, purpose is our most reliable life raft.
The 3 of us know that coaching is our collective purpose. We want you to experience progress and to feel success from the depths of our souls. Our biggest struggle this year was an underlying insecurity that we couldn’t provide value to you without races. The most reliable platform upon which we experience success in our sport was absent and we didn’t know exactly how or from where to source the reassurance of progress.
Some of you continued to be motivated to pursue new swim, bike, and run benchmarks, and some of you needed to shift your focus elsewhere. There’s a part of each of us coaches that wants you to feel like you’re always growing and improving, even though we know that’s not realistic. We want to give you the security that under our guidance, you will never have to worry about complacency. But “The Endurance” was quarantined in sea ice and we all had to learn how to shift our priorities.
We were so impressed by the ways in which you stepped up. You asked for what you needed, you gave us feedback, and you took on a bigger role in how you wanted your journey to unfold. We learned more about your resilience this year than we would have had the opportunity to in any other year. We gained a deeper understanding of why we work with you, specifically. There was always a basic foundation of commonalities, but this year brought out your character and it allowed us to connect with you in ways that will continue to grow and develop.
NYX Endurance officially launched on August 1, 2020. The 3 of us had been leaning on each other in the early part of the year and it became immediately apparent how a strong community with a shared vision could carry us forward. Our understanding of what endurance can impart upon those who recognize their call towards it was never rooted in achieving a finite success. There was never an end goal or culminating finish line, only benchmarks which provided an easier, formerly established way to reflect progress along your journey.
Although Shakleton’s Antarctic expedition appeared on the surface to be a failure, they survived an entire winter without losing a single crew member. Fourteen months after The Endurance became immobilized, all 28 members of the original crew returned back to safety. Shackleton recalled, “We had suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down yet grasped at glory, grown bigger in the bigness of the whole.”
2020 has not been easy, but none of us are here for easy. NYX was created as the platform upon which each of us can embody our heroic journeys through life, in our own individual ways, with the support and concurrent journeys of the community. In mirroring Sir Ernest Shakleton, a wanted ad for our sport might say something like this:
“WOMEN AND MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. LONG HOURS OF DARKNESS, BOREDOM, HEAT, AND COLD. SACRIFICES NECESSARY. PAIN AND DISCOMFORT GUARANTEED. RETURN IN SAME CONDITION DOUBTFUL. TEMPORARY RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS. HONOR AND FULFILLMENT ONLY BY YOUR OWN SOUL.”