Getting weird…with Jonah Sachs

The game changers

jonah sachsJonah Sachs is the CEO and Co-founder of Free Range Studios. He is an internationally recognised storyteller, designer and entrepreneur. He is also the author of the best-selling book, Winning the Story Wars.

First, let me say this open process is how campaigning should be done. Non-profit campaigns need to break expectations of their audiences if they are really going to change anything and get beyond the choir. That’s terribly hard to do for a group of people that knows an issue well, believes passionately in it and usually speaks to others who agree. Taking this beyond your four walls, getting weird ideas and testing will change everything.

So let me get weird right away and say that the “disability brand” is broken. And it has the opposite problem that most traditional product brands have. With a product, you usually have something inherently unemotional, unheroic and low stakes that you have to puff up and add meaning and connection to. In the case of disabled people, it’s the opposite. People naturally root for those who have the odds stacked against them but struggle mightily to overcome them. It’s considered the most basic goodness to show compassion and care for others who, through no fault of their own, have to work harder just to get by. Although many of us think disability doesn’t touch our lives, 1 in 7 people is disabled. We all know and love disabled people.

And yet, say the word “disabled” and the images that come to people’s mind will be mixed and muddled – and often invoke a spiteful narrative. That’s the level you need to be working on. The UN Convention will not be the lead. We have to start at the gut emotional level to redefine what comes to mind when you think disabled. Have you seen this video? That’s a new image of the disabled. Not pity and not some flat declaration that this guy has dignity. This is someone that makes us, the audience want to be better through his disability. It’s time for a new story about what disability is and what disabled people and their allies (the other key heroes of this story) can do. This is basic good vs evil. Don’t be afraid to say so.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

In July we introduced you to Team Scope athlete, Mike Jones, as he prepared to take part in Ironman Sweden. The following is an unknown text that he has come across which we’re sure will be very apt for a number of you: 

“In a race and finding it hard, look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don’t run and never will… those who run but don’t race…those who started training for a race but didn’t carry through…those who got to the starting line but didn’t the finish line…those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all. You’re still here. Take pride in wherever you finish. Look at all the people you’ve outlasted.”

These sentiments are even more appropriate for Mike looking back on his Ironman experience.

For those that do not know by now, I got to cross the finish line in Kalmar, however was outside “Lock Down”. But for me that was job done. This was the first time I’d completed the full 140.2 miles of an Ironman or Long Course Triathlon and what an incredible experience. When that moment came to cross that line, and even though it was late, I was given a reception I will never forget.

The people of Kalmar

A little about Ironman Sweden and  I hope to do the event justice. I have to start with the people of Kalmar and the surrounding area. A city that normally has 30 thousand people rose to over 100 thousand on the day. All around the bike and run course there were constant Ironman Parties that went on all day which created an atmosphere I have never experienced. Getting stopped in the street the following day and being greeted as a “hero,” “the man that did not stop” by people just out and about their daily lives is still leaving me speechless.

The course itself

The swim course was one of the most technical I have swum over that distance. Sighting was a little bit of a problem as I was not able to pick up the next turn buoy until late. But the last 1k at least brought you so close to the shore where the support was like swimming in a pool. This probably made it a bit easier as all I needed to do was follow the long line people shouting encouragement in their respective languages. Overall for me not a fast swim, but conditions were not that easy either.

The bike has been in the past for me where it has all gone wrong. I now have a new PB for the 112 miles, taking a massive 2 hours plus off my previous best. As for the course, the roads for the majority of the distance were like a race track (Britain you have a lot to learn).

The Marathon run course was 3 loops of Kalmar and district. It was quite early on when I felt the need to go into survival mode and with the words of Tracy Williams in my head, “every step forward is a step closer to the finishing line.” It took me more than 8 miles just to get into any sort of rhythm.

Determination to finish

At one point I had to sit down to consider if I was going to carry on, when a gust of wind blew me to my feet. It was time to believe – I think by this time finishing had become more important than time. If I was to analyse the run element then the following would be the key point: yes, I had trained for the run, but with past experiences I had not trained enough… surprising how much the mind influences training plans.

The reception coming into Kalmar at the end of this loop was in the words of Burt Le Berock, “unbelievable, just unbelievable.” The encouragement both from the people present and those at home over a thousand miles away was the drive to go on to the last 18k loop. This was going to push me forward. A few safety checks from the organisers and I was allowed to continue, I now just needed to give a little bit more.

The Name of the Game was to cover 140.2 miles and with the support of many this was done. Now is a time to reflect on what I have achieved and what I wish to do in the future. One thing I already know is that I will not be giving into my Neuromuscular Condition.

Future events?

Mike went on to get a great time in the Bupa Great North Run, setting a new PB for a half marathon distance. 2014 will prove to be a busy year for him, taking on the Bath Half Marathon in March, the Eton 10k swim in May and the Outlaw Long Course Triathlon covering 140.6 miles in July to name but a few! We wish him all the best as he continues his fundraising and for his events next year.

If you’ve been tempted to take part in a triathlon or endurance event then make sure you check out what we have to offer.