Mark Gillett

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Archive for January 2010

Belief vs Doubt

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Last night I posted about belief being the overriding factor in success.  I related it to the Marathon des Sables but it applies to everything we do, even illness. People who go through life thinking they will never get really sick, rarely do.

There are some that belief comes to naturally, they just feel they will succeed in what they will do.  Then there are those who naturally are doubters and there are so many factors in the pot that shape our inner self that by the time we are adult we just settle for who or what we are. “Oh I couldn’t do that” say the doubters, and the believers just do it or move on to something they can do.

The Marathon des Sables is a good example of believers. Naturally just by signing up there is a good chance they are a believer and most make it.  Even those who hide the fact that they are believers by down playing themselves will have inner belief and succeed.

Completing a marathon or the MdS is not that difficult when you really come down to the facts.  You have everything you need to survive, water, food, shelter and you have transport.  Your feet.  So why fail?  What is it that shapes the believer or the finisher vs the non finisher.  And what is it that rocks our belief when it was so strong in the first place?

I think in these scenarios preparation and management are the key factors to maintaining your belief and being able to adapt when something goes wrong.  I had a dreadful first day on my MdS.  I cramped at night, had headaches and new I had overcooked it. Day two I had to change my mindset and plan.  I did and maintained my belief.  By the end of day 2 over 90 had dropped out all ready because of the heat and excessive humidity.  I too would have gone if I had not adapted.

I truly believe that 99% of the people I meet could do a marathon or more.  The one key element tho is ‘want’.  If you do not want to do one or its not really a priority then the chances are you will think you cant.  So the trick in becoming someone with self belief is finding that something that you really want to do.  Then put the blocks in place to do it. Build the foundation. When you have finally achieved it your inner belief will grow immensely.  Then you need to find something else you really want or continue on the path of the first want and expand it…..  Its about not stopping at the first right answer but finding the next, and the next..

In business if you don’t really like your work, job or people around you, you will not be driven to success.  Change your environment.  Take a leap an go find what you really want.

Our lives and belief are shaped much by what we see on TV and in the media.  We see true believers all the time but they come in the form of Blair, Bush, Hussain or Hitler…… Its in the news daily.  Or we read the tabloids and see the excesses of celebrity. We read it and watch it but do we really want to be like them? So because of this bombardment of rubbish media we see that to be a believer and full of power is not a good thing.  But if we had more exposure to people like Branson, Tony Robbins, Gates, Sir Alan Sugar and people like that on a daily basis then we might see the good in being full of self belief.  Self belief can and is good in most cases, we just don’t see the good ones enough….

We can shape our belief and strengthen it in many ways. If we surround ourselves with like minded people, people with positive mindsets we feel better and we perform better.  A good office environment promotes good productivity. Get a coach. We naturally call a coach if we want to improve our golf or tennis.  Why not for your mindset?

Most human beings are very much the same, similar worries, similar dreams, we all eat at similar time a day, we all wake up and go to sleep at similar times and we all die when we are old.  I recently saw some images of masses of humans all naked.  It was weird because suddenly we look like a heard of wilder-beast and recognising faces became difficult.  They were stripped of their identity which is essentially their clothes and hair style. The raw human is really quite the same.

So if we are all so similar there is no reason we cannot be like those we perceive to be more successful or leading fulfilling lives.  There really is not much that sets us apart.

I just started looking through some library shots for believers I know or have worked with or seen on the MdS.  I found so many so take a look at a few of them above.

Some had their belief to begin with, some have had it grow through good work.  Some of the youths you see are bereaved and had their world rocked.  They now have huge belief back in their lives. Its all in the head. change that and you change so much….. Oh, and there is one lemon in there too.

You might also like to read my account of the MdS

Written by markgillett

January 29, 2010 at 10:51 am

Breaking The Mould…..

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Check out the guy at the back on crutches..... Read below

I have always been driven by dreams, what I like, the world around me. I think if there was one thing that taught me to take risks and make decisions it was tennis.  I played competitively for many years and when I think about the intricacies of the sport and the battles I am convinced that was it. But then I think there was probably more than just that….

One arena I have seen breaking the mould on mass is the Marathon des Sables or even a single marathon on its own. Just to go out and run that distance of 26.2 miles is a huge decision to make and follow though on. London sees 35,000 a year doing it so thats quite a few breaking the mould.

The Marathon des Sables, the “Grand Slam” of ultra running has an entry of 1000 runners this year.  The British entry system is booked for the next 3 years so thats around 750 booked already just from the UK.

So why do it?  Why put your body through that hell and pain?  Why not go to the Maldives for two weeks for the same price? I see men and women every year challenge themselves on this event as well as others I cover in the arctic or jungle and have come to a few conclusions.

There are those that are just at that point in their lives – mid life crises – and need to change or they die in side.  Then there are those who sat in the pub one night and saw it on tv the night before then over 6 beers made a bet! Some have always fancied it and finally got round to entering.  And finally there are those who were always destined to do it because its there and has to be done.  They have achieved so much in their lives, they need to push more just to find out.

I am sure there are other reasons like health or charity but to be honest I think most use the charity option as an excuse to go do something they have to do for themselves. I have seen some great fund raising on the back of these events so please do not misunderstand me. I just don’t believe too many people are truly altruistic.

However, a marathon or the MdS is a great starting point for people to start making a change in their lives.  As is just running on its own. Most people that you see in the street could barely run 100m so to go out and run a mile is quite something.  To run 26.2 is just amazing and to run 150 in the desert deserves more than the medal at the end….

The difficulty often appears on return or after the race.  The build up can be for quite some time and then suddenly its all finished.  Its over and done. Void!

This can be avoided somewhat if the marathon or MdS is just seen as the first step.  First of many steps in a life change that is for the better.  One that means that from the end of that race your life begins as a fitter healthier human being. Someone who has courage and the ability to do something out of the ordinary.  Then raise a shedload of cash at the same time for the local hospice or charity.  Someone who can break the mould. But its only the first right answer…

There are some truly great people in world who can achieve so much if they only believe.  And its probably belief that is the overidding factor in stepping out and doing something different….  If you are running the MdS this year, you will have a ball.  You will come back different, truly different.  Use it as the first of many steps……Believe.

The man at the back of the runners above broke his ankle the previous day on the long stage.  He then completed the marathon stage 26.2 miles on crutches. True belief!

Thats about it for now….  Off for a run now..

Written by markgillett

January 28, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Escape The City

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Just had a cool chat with one of the founders of Escape The City.  Take a look at the site and sign up to the community.  Its sounds like there will be some interesting stuff from them. So if you have had enough of the city or just want to be inspired to do more, this is the site….. Here is their intro vid…..

Written by markgillett

January 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Travel

No 37 Bus and Jack Bauer

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Slow down, take the bus. Life is too short to rush it.

I have been working for a couple of hours now and thought about another blog post and not being totally inspired by anything this morning I thought not.  So I opened a series of images of Tom Aikens (check out his restaurant at The first image was one left on compact flash from a fews days ago.  I was driving through Paris the other day and saw these two old ladies with Jack Bauer of 24.

I had my inspiration.  Earlier I spoke to my wife who was in a ‘BIG RUSH” and I also have a pile of work that is so daunting I keep reorganising and hiding it.  Especially the window envelopes that I do not want to open.  The image just made me think; who has it right?  The two old ladies or me?  The two old ladies or Jack Bauer?

We spend so much of our lives chasing, running, replying, texting, twittering, face-booking, winning contracts that we lose sight of some of the important things.  Time to be. Time to think or just time to catch up with family and friends. It is often this free time that your mind works best too.

I tried to imagine the next few hours of these two old ladies lives….. they will get on the bus together, chat for bit, get off 300 meters from their home.  They will then go to the corner shop, buy some cat food, maybe a small bag of pick and mix for their grandchildren who are dropping by for tea later.  They will then walk home together (I feel they live together, maybe sisters). They feed the cat, put the radio on and listen to Sarkozy in his bi yearly address talking about modernising and they complain a little.  The evening is spent looking after the grand children, playing and finally they have a glass of wine with their supper, watch a bit of Sarkozy on France24 and off to bed.

Then I imagined Jack in the same situation!  He jumped on the same bus, dived across two seats whilst shooting at a terrorist at the back of the bus.  The terrorist escapes unhurt and leaps out of the door whilst the bus is still moving. Jack leaps out after him, smashes his ankle and his suspect gets away.  A helicopter lands and rescues Jack but little does he know that he is now being kidnapped by those he thought were on his side….  He is now handcuffed, blindfolded and beaten as he leaves Paris to an unknown destination. He is tortured by his captures until he finally relents and pays his tax bill; Sarkozy wins in the end!  He is released and dumped on the streets of Paris………..

Our lives vary so much but what is it that makes us happy?  Mostly its about controlling life and not letting life control you. I suspect these two old ladies have everything they ever need. Some but not a lot of stress, beautiful grand children and people around them who care. They are in control of their day and I imagine are happy.

Slow down and take the No 37 bus occasionally and don’t rush your life away…..

Written by markgillett

January 28, 2010 at 11:10 am

Posted in Life, Photography

Next decision for me..

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Do I walk, run to Paris next week? I have been thinking about this for a few days…. I could raise a bit for Haiti.

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January 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Travel

Two Pieces of Loo Roll or Three?

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This guy took around 36 hours to finish the long stage. He made good choices for him on how to tackle the distance....

I am not sure what brought me to this subject other than the obvious in the title! It’s a subject that is close to me, though, and an important one for everyone, and one that so many people struggle with. Choice. And so many have been inadvertently taught not to make choices.

Everyday we face decisions of which some are easy to make and some more difficult. Some are just plain impossible. Choosing is often determined by how you were brought up. Were you allowed to make choices and make mistakes without being berated or put down if you messed up? Were you given encouragement to choose? Then, if you made a mistake, you could adapt and move on quickly. I believe I was on the whole but also that my choices were my responsibility.

I encourage people to make their own decisions and choices in the work that I do in photographic workshops, coaching or expeditions. The one that throws parents is when I ask their children to come up with their own kit list. “Why do we not have a kit list?” I get asked. “I have to know what Jonny needs to take!” Parents often go into a complete spin but at the end of the day would it not be better to research what to take, make a choice on what you wish to buy based on your budget and then run that choice by the authoritative person with the knowledge? That way the knowledge becomes yours and you have a little fun on the way. Ah! but if someone else chooses for you, you have blame when it turns out to be unsuitable or wrong. Of course!

I never let anyone take away unsuitable items but I will always make them choose because what is right for one person is not necessarily right for the next.

Expedition kit is a good example. I am often asked what to wear on the Marathon des Sable. To be honest, I am the wrong person to ask if you want a brand name and material type because basically I am not sure it matters as long as you don’t wear a fur hat and down jacket but even then I think you would get through. I wore a cotton t shirt that cost £2.99, a pair of regular running shorts and normal running socks. If you check the forums or the suppliers you will be told that you need clothes made from special wicking materials (good old nylon), socks with aluminium strips in them and lots more that will cost you the earth. I have had youths walk across the Sinai basically in what they can afford.  All loved the experience and did not regret their choices.

So how do you choose? What is it that finally makes you commit? Well, for me a vital part of any choice is gut feel. Obviously there is knowledge you have or gained from others with experience, what you know about the choice you are trying to make, how it affects what you are doing and what the purpose is. All those factors play a key role. However, it’s those choices that you don’t have much knowledge about that can be difficult, especially when its scarce or unqualified. Shops are led by marketing and sales not by what’s best for the job. You can easily see this when you have a child show up with Gortex winter boots for a desert expedition…… Or an MdS runner wearing who packs 5000 calories a day and then keels over exhausted because of the extra weight he is carrying….. Then you have the sheep who just wear what everyone else wears hoping its right.

Take my choice of a cotton t shirt in the Marathon des Sables. This was knowledge. I spent 10 years in the Middle East coaching tennis for up to 10 hours a day often in 40 degrees and 90% humidity.  I thought I was well qualified to make that choice.  The man in the running shop had been to Lanzrote for two weeks in the winter and lay on the beach! You may need fast wicking materials in the cold European climates so the sweat disperses and you do not feel cold, however in the desert, the sweat evaporates faster than you can run so choose another reason for your space age material and make sure its a good one for you….

This is not to say that a cotton t shirt is best but is just an example of me making a choice. I hate nylon and if I pour water over my cotton shirt is will stay around a little longer and keep me a little cooler too. Over heating and dehydration are the biggest killers in the desert and this works for me;  tried and tested many times.

It was looking at my loo roll that brought me to this subject. Two or three?  Slip and slide or get a good grip?  I chose three.  For the MdS I took 2 wipes for each day! Yes, thats all. One for each days ablutions and one for cleaning my ‘parts’. I washed with water and used my t shirt to dry myself…. It worked well for me and I just hoped I would not get the shits by washing my hands regularly and sharing nothing…

The point of todays post is to go ahead and make a choice. Base your choice on knowledge and get the best you can from the experienced people around you.  Then go for it. If you mess up, so what, you will always adapt….

I can be contacted by email if you need help…….Come to the London Ultra Expo on 12 February…

Written by markgillett

January 27, 2010 at 11:29 am

Get Infected

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……and this one is very good too.

Written by markgillett

January 25, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Coaching