The Art of Competition is inspirational, transformational and a work of art in its own right. You don’t have to be an athlete to understand and gain from its insights and stories or appreciate the stunning photography. We are all on journeys that have meaning to us. The Art of Competition can help infuse your quest with that little something extra that will make it fulfilling and deep regardless of its eventual outcome.
The Art of Competition is comprised of ninety quotes that are displayed in two-page spreads with incredible images from nature shot by Nick Borelli. In addition, five chapters of text elaborate on the key themes that are vital to the process of turning competition into art – themes like Change, Fear and Being Stuck. And, of course there is a chapter devoted specifically to my journey of transforming the race at the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii from Competition into Art.
The quotes in The Art of Competition started coming to me while I was on a retreat in Japan with my spiritual teacher Brant Secunda, nearly ten years after I had retired from competition and Ironman racing. I had tried for years to explain to others the mindset that opened the possibility of victory at the races that counted most to me. But until this pivotal trip with Brant, the exact words eluded me. “I went hard and stayed calm” just didn’t cut it.
Then, all of a sudden the words began to flow. In the span of two days I had written down almost fifty short quotes that encapsulated the mindset of a champion – thoughts that formed the backbone of The Art of Competition. Each quote can be digested slowly over time to help bring your personal perfection out in the moments that count most.
It would take another five years before I was hit with the inspiration of how to present these thoughts to the world. On that retreat in Japan, and in his teachings around the world, Brant emphasizes the importance of connecting to nature as a way to empower your life for the events that have meaning to you. It finally dawned on me. I would pair each quote with a beautiful image from the natural world; I would use Nick Borelli’s art to help transform simple phrases into compelling ideas that inspire and tap strengths you never thought you had, to help create a performance that stirs inspiration in those who witness your efforts.
The Art of Competition is when a physical, visceral experience—filled with sweat and pain, with extreme control and pure gut-wrenching strength—transforms into a flow of movement where every single cell inside the body is working in unison faster than the brain can possibly coordinate. The normal boundaries that distinguish every cell, muscle fiber and tendon disappear. The athlete’s body stops wasting time processing thoughts about trying to go fast, to hold on, or to stay calm. It just does all that is necessary to deliver the goods without hesitation. The usual way this is described is that you are “in the flow,” a state where time slows so you can anticipate the ball or where eternities pass in the blink of an eye and pain becomes background static, where you stop thinking about victory or failure and just become a vehicle for a truly great performance. This is when competition is transformed into art.