The Quench

Standing at the precipice of a goal. When you’ve worked your ass off planning for the big moment- a baby, a wedding, a paper, a business opening, a launch, a race, etc- you should question everything. This is important. Double check yourself and make lists. Check each item on these lists and then make new, consolidated ones. Check them off. Now you’re looking at a finished product. You’re ready to present it to the world.

My blog is centered around this analogy about folding metal. The overriding philosophy here is that it takes a lot of breaking down to make a singular strong piece of material. That in your journey to greatness, you must stumble, fall, hurt, suffer, fear, doubt, and then you must overcome. You will grow and build character from this experience and it is important that you do so. Greatness was never achieved in easy, lackadaisical fashion. Lethargy never bred success. All these things are folds in the metal. A smith does this with one piece or often many different pieces of material adding flux between them to bond the folds, making them stronger, then hammer them out thin again only to repeat the fold. This is the same in your quest to your goal, no matter what it is. The beauty in this is the lessons learned. Maybe they’re big lessons. Maybe their small and trivial (don’t put a fork in the socket, you idiot). Either way, you learn.

Once these folds are complete and the smith is pleased with his work, they go in for the final heat treat and the quench. The quench is the widowmaker. This is when you know if all your hard work was for naught, if this was what you’d hoped and dreamed, if this will work at all, if all the eggs you put in this basket were worth it. The quench is when the smith put the finished product into oil (sometimes but rarely water) and listens/feels. They listen for any noise, a small ting in the piece. That noise in dicates a crack or split in the metal. It was folded improperly and didn’t bond, the heat treat wasn’t hot enough, or a plethora of other reasons. Sometimes these cracks can be fixed. Other times they cannot. Your final heat treat is like your dress rehearsal or soft opening. It’s an opportunity to see your product in action without actually opening it up to the public just yet. It’s not the same as opening day, but it’s as damn close as you can get without going over the line.

My current work is Ironman (for those of you that know, awesome. If you don’t, google it. Or ignore because it’s of zero interest. Either way the analogy still applies.)  

Ironman is not simply an excuse to fill up your calendar all summer, sweating on long rides and runs for libraries of selfies, new pace record announcements and attention whoring on social media. It's not a way for you to garner cheers and sympathetic encouragements when things go/don't go your way. Ironman will eat you alive if you have not done your homework. Like any big project or goal, you have to train and prepare. You have to make a plan, get a mentor (or coach in this case), ask questions, ask dumb questions, practice execution on a smaller scale (do smaller, shorter distance races), sweat, worry, lose sleep, lose weight, lose your appetite, gain one, make small goals along the way, make bigger scarier goals along the way, keep working, don’t stray the course, turn your friends down for late nights out, turn down drinks, turn down shit food, lose friends, make new ones, find a tribe, own it, be fiercely loyal, own what you do and who you are. As Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson always says, “Be the hardest worker in the room.” Go above and beyond. Sew the seeds of your dreams, care for them and be tender, watch them grow with your diligence and persistent efforts. REAP IT!

So you’re standing at the precipice. Looking at the edge. It’s here. The time has come. The end of all your hard work is nigh. You’re ready. Every list has been made and checked off, all the plans and small goals along the way have been executed and met, the carpet has been rolled out and the light is upon you.

Quench.

You’ll never know if you don’t take that leap of faith. It’s time. The hard part is behind you. THe work is done. The blood, sweat and tears you’ve poured into this are dry and gone. NOW is the time to celebrate and let go. Cut the ribbon, launch the project, open the doors, toe the line. Believe and JUMP!

“Close your eyes. Take a breath. Count to 3.” -Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

 

Carrie Giordano