‘When did the flame ignite for you?’ the interviewer asked champion runner Robert de Castella. ‘Most people think that the idea of running for 42 kilometres without stopping over and over again is self-mutilation or insanity. When does it become something you think you want to do for a career?
‘I know exactly when it was and Pat [coach Pat Clohesy was there. I’d been a really good junior until the age of 17 or 18 and set national records and things. Then I went to Europe where I had a bit of a period where I went backwards and it was partly because I was training hard with the older guys and probably socialising a fair bit. But I still managed to get selected into an Australian team to compete in the World Cross Country and went to Limerick and Pat [Clohessy - his coach] was the manager of that team.
‘In the World Championships I had one of the worst runs that I’d ever had. I finished 62nd or something. It was a shocker. And the next week we had another race in Italy – a race called the Cinque Mulini – the Five Mills. I had an awesome race. I just came into the last few hundred metres with a couple of the heroes that I’d looked up to, shoulder to shoulder. They kicked away but I was up there racing them and it was something that I never thought I would.
‘That night after we had dinner we were walking back to the hotel and everyone else had walked off and Pat and I were at the back and I said to Pat ‘After this run today, I ran so badly last week and I’ve run so well this week, maybe I can really be a good runner. Maybe if I dedicate myself.’
‘Pat stopped and looked at me and he said ‘I’ve been waiting two years for you to say that.’
'That was a switch for me and my whole approach to training and my commitment changed from being a runner to being an athlete and I was serious.’
In December 1988 while eating lunch on a park bench in Supreme Court Gardens, Shaun and I discovered Objectives.
We realised that the content of what was taught to students should be determined by what they needed to do at the end of the training. The trainer needed to be able to justify how everything that was taught in the classroom helped to achieve the objective. The objectives needed to be written in terms of what the student needed to be able to do – not what the teacher did.
As we walked back to our respective offices in the city, we felt a new command over our role as instructors and clarity about how we could apply our craft.
Years later Shaun told me that Benjamin Bloom had discovered Objectives in 1956.
When we make a decision we switch from runner to athlete.
From consumer to creator.
From child to adult.
From another to ourselves.
When we create the space for another to decide, we switch from parent to leader.
From master to servant.
From fear to love.