It has been an interesting couple of days now with The Oscar Awards making all the headlines. I think this year's awards will be remembered for one moment. The erroneous award of Best Film to La LA Land will be etched forever in the history books, One defining moment, captured forever into the history books. Warren Beatty, playing Bugs Bunny, looked the proverbial rabbit in the headlights, stuck in a moment in time, with the world's media and a live audience barreling down on him. I fear that he was not briefed on the possibility he would be given the wrong card. The prerogative of decision making and choice was, for a short moment, in his gift. His choice is there for you, me and history to dissect. For sure, PWC will take a long and hard look at the incident to try to make sense of it all and to discern if the situation could have been managed better. Watching Warren Beatty flip flop under the heat of the light reminded me of an article Graeme Obree wrote for The Telegraph newspaper (link here: Telegraph Newspaper Decision ) as part of a series of articles on decision-making. Graeme looked back to a moment in time, June 1993, Hamar. He was faced with a momentary choice situation. His decision at that time would dramatically influence his future and the future of The Hour Record. Fascinating reading, especially for anyone interested in the management of decisions.The article is titled 'Going Again' and is repeated below with thanks to The Telegraph.
It was July 1993. I found myself shuffling with an exhausted body across a velodrome in Hamar, Norway, to be met by a media group that included a French TV crew who had flowers for me for what I had just achieved. I had just surpassed a record that had been held in a regard by continentals that ordinary Britons cannot relate to for lack of cycling heritage. Comparison to Roger Banisters mile record for running is a way to convey that.
I had just ridden a bicycle farther than any man in history - at sea level. It was not just 'any' man - it was set by Francesco Moser in 1986 - a man whose name in Italy was such that knowledge of it could be a test of Italian nationality itself. It had been an amazing ride by him, but it was, none-the-less, the sea level World One Hour Record. He had set the ultimate mark at altitude in Mexico City in 1984 and I highlight the importance of it by revealing that it was one of only two cycling posters I have ever displayed. One was of him on that day with disc wheels and smooth helmet and the other was of Eddy Merckx whose record he had smashed from the same venue in 1972.
Such is the magnitude of World Hour Records and the people who set them that they do not fall easily or often. Eddy Merckx said at the time that it was the hardest thing he had ever done and that it must have taken years off his life - and that from a man who won the Tour de France five times. Much has been written about how awful it is despite it's outward appearance of just riding round a man-made bowl on a bicycle for 60 minutes. Mr Merckx endorsed the reality of that discrepancy with the statement that he would never do it again. Twenty one years later, I, not of his status, am being handed flowers to celebrate my relative success. Failure by my interpretation.
It felt and appeared instantaneous to me and others the process of flowers, decision and utterance of the now famous words, "I am going again!". I had used my one chance as a broke amateur in a foreign land to step up with everything I had - a bike I designed and built myself, my own riding style, my own training methods and my very worth as an athlete.
My exhaustion suggested there would be no hall of fame but no disgrace either as my rival, Chris Boardman, goes on to take the record that matters in six days time. My epitaph would be ordinary after all. The entire world could see that right then it was over and all logic and reality could confirm it. "Going again was crazy and physically impossible", were the words of Moser himself. They were all correct except for one thing. I had decided to go again, but the real decision was the willingness to endure, to sacrifice and to accept the consequences of what I must do in order to execute that decision. Now I was willing to die for what I lived for. Mine would be a metronomic 'dance of pedals', through all suffering to death, blackness or glory.
This was decision over resolve, leadership over management - it was belief, vision and passion over risk analysis. I did not have to believe I could do it - I just had to believe I was courageous enough to do it. Ultimately, it was a decision to accept pain and death and not turn from it. Glory it was!