08 March 2015

Non-compete clause

"You're essentially going to war with your body" she said. "And against your body, too." It didn't sound very appealing to me. But to many people, it does.

Not everybody takes it quite as far as she did, with Rugby, but an antagonistic or at least competitive element is a main driver in most sports. Whether it is ice hockey, running or indeed swimming, most athletes are motivated by a strong desire to beat others at it.

I am not most athletes. I never was, and it is only in conversation with the inherently competitive people around me that I realize that I am more the exception than the rule. When I swim, I am perfectly happy to just do lap upon lap at steady pace, with my mind wandering elsewhere. I have swum the same distance in the same time for years. She, in the lane next to me, is going through a complex routine of different sets, styles, speeds, and pauses. She gets better all the time.

When we run, I can only do so at one speed, and as the season progresses, I simply go a bit further every time. Each spring, I start back at the same place. What's that talk about interval training? "It's like a car engine", she tried. "Your endurance is simply the size of your tank. But if you do intervals, you increase the power of your engine!" That may well be true. But why would I want that? It's not as if I had my eyes on the next Olympics.

I swim, or run, simply because I like it. Conversely, exercise that is not inherently pleasurable seems unbelievably dull and pointless. Performing a gym routine is akin to brushing teeth: You are told to do it to prevent adverse long-term consequences, so you do. But it is not satisfactory in any way - not to mention that people look much sillier lifting weights than toothbrushes. And no dentist has ever told me to change up my brushing routine just as I started getting the hang of it.

The other day, I sat down for lunch with my new work colleagues, following a change in job I had recently managed to obtain. When asked to explain why I had sought this new role, I did not hesitate to articulate how I felt that, after three years in my last position, my learning curve had started to flatten out and I was looking for a fresh challenge. I am glad to have found it, and was eagerly outlining the many new projects I looked forward to working on. "Change and progress are always good", I suggested, firmly in a business mindset and not questioning my own statement for a moment.

My new team seemed to agree. "It's good that we managed to keep you in the company", said one. "Or did they make you sign a non-compete clause?" enquired another. They hadn't. And such clauses are mostly unenforceable anyways, which is why lucky departing employees get paid not to compete.

If only they did that for my athletic endeavors. I wouldn't have to worry about a job anymore at all.

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