Commitment – Hill Reps, Goethe & Goats

everestI love this quote commonly attributed to Goethe:

Concerning all acts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth — that the moment one definitely commits oneself then divine providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred and which no man could have dreamed would have come their way.”

I have found that once I have committed to something then all sorts of things occur to help me, whether it is meeting someone who can help with a project I’ve just started or coming across useful material on the internet, in newspapers or the books I’m reading.  Of course I would have probably met those people anyway and read those articles, however, because I had made a commitment I was aware of their potential to help.

For example: I have known a fellow runner, who is a GP for several years, it wasn’t until I bumped into her at a race after I decided to write a crime novel that the fact she also worked in Accident & Emergency registered with me. I needed to know some details about the workings of an A & E department.

Divine providence moving has helped me with hill reps, although sometimes I give the process a nudge. I knew that today the weather was going to be wet & windy and I would not feel like going out to do the planned hill reps, which I have a love/hate relationship with (mostly hate). So yesterday I posted on Facebook “Hill reps tomorrow. Will “it’s raining” be a good enough excuse not to do them?” and waited. The comments were mostly along the lines ‘No’, but one friend said “Depends why you are doing the hill reps?!” to which I replied “Have a very hilly race in Switzerland beginning of June” and she came back with “Then get your ass to the rep session Edward Chapman!!! ” And there it was, a thing  to help that would never otherwise occurred. She had reminded me of why I was doing the hill reps and why they were so important to me. Sometimes we get so focused on what we are doing and the negatives we forget the why and the huge positives that will come later. (Bounding up the Swiss Alps like a mountain goat 🙂 – I’m an optimist).

The other thing that happened occurred without a nudge. I had been feeling that I wasn’t getting the most out of my hill sessions, but didn’t know why that was. Then when I checked Twitter before I set off (classic delaying tactic) this popped up from @KineticRev “Hill Running Workouts Made Easier With One Simple Tip”. I watched the video and set off for my hill rep session with a renewed sense of purpose; I knew why I was doing them and I knew what I needed to do to get even better. It was a great session and I came back tired, but exhilarated.

W H Murray, Scottish mountaineer and author, also liked the Goethe quote; he used it in his book The Scottish Himalaya Expedition (1951)

“But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money — booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”





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