The cycle of success — a Q&A with Mark Beaumont
- Wednesday 12 Oct, 2016
2016 is Citypress’ Year of Extraordinary. What does that mean? Well, it’s a year-long initiative where we’re exploring what it means to truly stand-out. As part of it, we’ve invited guests from a variety of backgrounds to our offices to share their experiences with us.
With this in mind, we invited record-breaking around-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont along to meet the team at our Manchester office. He shared his thoughts on what it takes to achieve truly extraordinary results, before sitting down for a quick Q&A session.
Hi Mark. What’s the biggest challenge when taking on the kind of endurance feats you’ve accomplished: is it the mental pressure or the physical exhaustion?
The physical part is the bit of your challenge that you can train for, while the biggest challenge by far is the psychological journey. I think your mental comfort zone grows over the years, alongside your ability to address what’s possible.
Being able to set real targets based on your own potential is purely subjective in terms of what you can get your head around and what’s realistic. With both mental and physical pressure, it’s about breaking down the challenge to simple tasks that you can take on one-by-one.
What motivates you and pushes you towards the finish line?
I think anyone who is ambitious knows that the completion of any journey or project, whether it’s in PR or sport, can be quite an anti-climax. Still, most people see the finish as being the success. For me, taking the leap and committing to a challenge is the important part. Especially with the endurance feats I take on, I don’t get to go back and redo them if something goes wrong, it’s about pushing your ambitions and following them through.
It’s probably not what you’ll want to hear but, on my toughest days, the consequence of failing is what spurs me on. I’ve never stopped a challenge because I just didn’t want to do it anymore or because I’m having a bad day, and I always find that the lower you feel the deeper you’ll dig.
How do you cope with stress?
We all live incredibly busy lives. I mean, I wear three hats as a broadcaster, an athlete and a businessman. It comes down to constantly juggling and having the right team to support your journey and success. Nothing about what I do is easy to put into practice or organise. I’m constantly trying to reach new levels and when I get things wrong — which is normally to do with not getting enough exercise — it gives me a different perspective and learnings for the future.
The reality is that we’re all riddled with insecurities and we should stop making it up as we go, we need to plan ahead and work towards our goals. We should be pushing to do something we’ve not done before and have the ability to take good advice from people. It saves us having to learn lessons the hard way.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some really great people in both broadcasting and sport. I’ve had some real mentors who, during my 20s and 30s, took the time to share their passion with me, as it’s stuff that you can’t learn in the classroom. This is a vital part of building towards any extraordinary achievement.
You should never just blindly throw yourself into a challenge, you should be striving to work with good people, and you should never feel like the finished article. Be open to changing ideas and opinions. I know some of the best conversations are when you chat to someone and you aren’t just defending your point. Just being open-minded can help shape your ambitions.
What makes for an extraordinary team?
A successful team for me is one that has the capability to know about risks and pressure, but can deal with it. When you’re part of any team, you’ve got to understand how to react to potential problems that come out of the blue, and the effort you put in has to be utterly consistent — there’s no negotiating on that. A good team is made up of individuals who are self-reliant, even in the most stressful of times.
Do you have any more challenges in the pipeline?
I do, but they’re all closely-guarded secrets. You’ll have to wait and see.
About Mark’s great feat
In 2015, Mark Beaumont set out from the bustling heart of Cairo on his latest solo world record attempt — the length of Africa, intending to ride to Cape Town in under 50 days.
Despite illness, mechanical faults and attempted robbery, Mark completed his journey in just 41 days, 10 hours and 22 minutes, after cycling 6,762 miles. Here’s just a snippet of his epic journey that makes him extraordinary.
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