Well it was a fun weekend at N.E.R.D, I'm officially a member. Along with the other 1,000 or so in attendance plus the Microsoft conference happening in the same hotel it may have been the highest concentration of geeks in glasses this side of the Mississippi (and yes I wore my glasses).
The conference got underway with a motivational speaker, Joey Cheeks, an olympic speed skater. After finding out who the speaker was, I was thrilled. I just couldn't wait to hear what wisdom this speed skater from North Carolina who is a couple years younger than me could impart and the motivation he would provide. Oh, plus I was just dying to hear all the great sport cliches (note the sarcasm). But I was pleasantly surprised. His thoughts very much echoed exactly what it was that I was feeling going into the week. Why do all this work? For what? His story was very different, but very much the same.
He talked about his years of training growing up and moving away from home to skate and be coached by the best. He talked about all the years spent preparing, the countless hours spent training on the ice and in the gym. All the people along the way who helped him get there. His coaches, his parents, a nutritionist, a sports pyscologist, a team of rocket scientists who designed a suit that cost $15k. All this time and effort to finally make it to the olympics and spend 30 seconds competing...all those years of preparing, a life spent focused on one thing...and only to be over in 30 seconds. In the end he was just, "a grown man in tights skating in circles." He spent all this time building up the story and then made you see that reaching his goal is not the most important thing to him.
I really felt like he was talking to me and it gave me some much needed perspective. I've spent so much time and had the support of so many people along the way; I've been working so hard I forgot to ask myself what is really important. It was good to be reminded that it is far better to be signficant than to be successful.