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Do you have what it takes?

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

What are common relationships between the professions of architecture and triathlon?

Focus, determination, practice, addiction and obsession ..


It's Josh.

This could be a good self assessment.

Do you have what it takes to succeed?

It doesn't matter what profession you are in, but it may be worth your time checking out what you're doing and why and whether you have the personality traits to achieve what you want to and if you don't, work on what you need to in order to get to where you want to be.

I’m well aware and acknowledge the naivety of these blogs/ posts, but I quite like writing them in that way. They barely scratch the surface of some topics which are far more interesting than I make them out to be… Everything I write, whilst informed (or so I like to think..) is just my personal opinion and documentation of my experiences, so take it as you wish…

I was recently speaking to a colleague at work (Wayne Forster) about architecture and whether or not the subject encourages a certain personality, or whether people with that personality are drawn to architecture. This reminded me of a similar conversation I had had a few months back with Iestyn, discussing the same thing about triathlon, and drew the same conclusion about both…

Whilst there are many factors that can effect the success of an individual in each of the practices, there seems to be similar characteristics in people’s personalities which can significantly aid their progress. Thinking back to the people I was surrounded with in architecture and now in triathlon the similarities are uncanny…

Both require a determined, focused, motivated and almost obsessive mindset… potentially even addictive. The need for practice, repetition and reflection are important aspects for most disciplines, but the time that you have to invest into both architecture and triathlon amplifies this. It’s the obsessive nature of the individuals that allow them to succeed in these aspects, addicted to constantly practicing, repeating and reflecting on their actions.. making their practice purposeful and therefore more effective.

I can apply this to myself… you don’t think of it at the time, it almost comes naturally and you don’t think of it as abnormal… (maybe it’s not?) but I have been all consumed by both architecture and triathlon over the past few years. You end up living and breathing them.. within reason. Second year was when I got the first taste of this in architecture, where it was one of the first things I thought about when I woke up and the last thing before sleeping… and sometimes during sleep. This followed into third year, and fortunately for me i was successful in both years (probably partly because of this approach). You may think this is odd but I wasn’t alone.. I was surrounded by people with practically the same mindset, whether or not they like to admit it, or recognised it at the time.

It can become a lot to handle if you can’t compartmentalise very well and can be a bit of a burden. If you’re unable to remove yourself from it all then it can be completely overwhelming.. and this goes for sport and academia. A lot of people like to give the blame to universities for the mental health of the students in architecture (which isn’t great!), but in my opinion it’s almost self inflicted. It’s that all consuming nature of the subject and obsessive personality that can be a massive strength but also a large weakness if not managed and controlled. Fortunately during this period, I was still swimming (competitively… ish) which allowed me some necessary time and mental space away from it, a place to focus my attention elsewhere for an hour or two at a time… without realising it, that could have been one of the best things for my mental state at the time.

So when this ‘obsession’ switched from architecture to triathlon in 2016 it was a similar story. The focused practice was/is essential for maximum gains. Whether it be how my hand enters the water each and every stroke, how my foot lands underneath me, or my aerodynamic position on the bike (to name just a few), each and every session, every day.. and that’s just technique. Not even dipping into paces, nutrition etc. Again, speaking to the people around me, it’s evident that they too are applying similar practices.

Continuing with the switch, funnily enough it is now architecture which removes me from the triathlon bubble, giving me an opportunity to be brought back into reality for brief periods at a time. I think it’s essential to be able to remove yourself from it in order to gain perspective of what you’re doing, aiming to achieve, why and how you’re going to get there. Taking that step back can be the best thing for your training.. it is for me at least. Those short periods being removed allows me to regain any lost motivation and get straight back into it.

Consistency is another parallel which I consider to be the most important part of training and designing. The addiction, the want… need, to train, practice, draw, better yourself or your work. Both architecture and Triathlon could be considered lifestyle choices.. (I’m sure many within each profession would agree).. and I think that it’s the personality of the individual that draws them to these types of all consuming practices.

… maybe.

I’m sure this can be applied to many professions, however these are the two I have experienced. What surprises me the most is the consistency in personality throughout the people I was and am surrounded by to this day. I can only hope we can and hopefully continue to have a positive influence on one another.

Until next time.


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