Running a marathon is an immense achievement. But it’s not a patch on the challenge that our facilitator and coach Dave Spence set himself a couple of years ago.

“I strongly believe in the link between mental and physical wellbeing, and that when people look after their bodies it vitally supports their performance in work and the rest of their lives,” says Dave. He credits a fierce conversation with his doctor for making him change his perspective, and transform himself from a self-described “fat little banker” to one of twelve “crazies” who ran from one coast of Malaysia to the other in 2017.

That was an ultra-marathon of 444km. Dave added a further challenge for himself and immediately cycled back to the start line, covering 888km in a single week.

The training was tough says Dave, “but it’s given me a concrete understanding of the concept of being ‘fit to lead’, a term I first read about in an article by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, in which they compellingly argued that ‘corporate athletes’ – essentially, people who win at working – stay in condition by maintaining their performance physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually.

“The ‘spiritual’ aspect for them is about purpose, which I strongly agree with. If you believe in why you’re doing something the what, how and when don’t really matter as much.”

Defining his own purpose as to be Summit-Seeking Sherpa, Dave applied a fail fast approach to training. “When setbacks arose, I treated them positively as learning pieces, instead of beating myself up over them,” he says. “But as someone who is normally tough on myself and tends to strive for perfection, it took work to let these feelings go.

“As toddlers we learn to walk by falling over, getting up and trying again and again. If we didn’t we’d all still be sitting in our high chairs or strollers now. The problem is that we’re conditioned to be risk-averse as we grow older. This gets us out of the habit of trying new things. I’d say that I was learning by doing when preparing for my 888km challenge, in what was a childlike way. If we can transfer this way of thinking to our business lives in an appropriate way, it will help recondition our mindsets that fear failure.”

Dave’s passion is helping leaders seek new ways to stretch themselves and their teams and discover purposeful ways to succeed. We’re proud to work with him.