My ambitions. My ideas.

In order to raise £1 million I am going to have to diversify my activities.  Running one half marathon won’t get me there I don’t think.  Nor will running a couple.  I need to take on every possible opportunity that I get and learn how to promote them successfully.  That means giving myself more work, but I kind of accepted that when I started this whole thing anyway.

I’ve had so many ideas of different events to take part in and to run.  One of them which is quite high up on my list of which will require a lot of organising is a charity ceilidh/auction night.  Ultimately it has to make sense financially, I don’t see any point pouring vast amounts of time into organising an event like this unless it is going to raise a significant amount of money for charity.  It will only raise a fraction of the total amount however every little helps!  I think it would be good way of bringing people together who have been affected by cancer, to celebrate what they have achieved and have a good old laugh.  For anyone who isn’t Scottish, a ‘Ceilidh’ is a traditional gathering where people join together in song and dance in order to have fun and make a fool out of themselves, at least that is how it was described to me!  If it happens you should come, they are always great fun and everyone usually has a great time!  I’ll keep you posted!

Another idea of mine that I am working towards is starting to make videos that document this journey.  I know that I have started this blog, but I understand that not everyone enjoys reading.  I also believe that a picture paints a thousand words and using video will allow me to physically show you all what I have been up to.  Over the past year I have begun watching YouTube more and more, to the point where I often watch YouTube over regular TV.  There are some amazing creators on YouTube who produce work that is as good, if not better than TV.  I am by no means saying that my videos will be able to compare to some of these creators, but I hope to bring you all along and help share this whole experience more.

I am finding that this whole blog and charity work pretty fun so far!  It has been a lot of work, trying to get things started, to speak to people about what I’m trying to do and why.  I’ve come to realise that when you tell someone that you are trying to raise £1 million for charity they will be slightly surprised.  I suppose it’s not the average target to set.  Although if everyone was the same the world would be a pretty boring place I think!  People often take a bit of convincing, but I think I am being fairly successful at encouraging people we will get there.  We are still quite small at the minute and there is a huge amount of work still to do, but I have faith and there is plenty positivity in me still!

Christmas will soon be upon us and the New Year hotly on its heels.  I think that once the 1st of January arrives that I will feel that we are on our way.  I’ve been working on this for a couple of months now and I think it looks like we haven’t made much progress.  What I am trying to remind people however is that I could never expect to raise this money overnight, it’s a long-term goal and one that will take time to achieve.  Stick with me and we’ll smash the target, I’m sure of it!

My sister is home in a couple of weeks for the first time since August which I am quite looking forward to.  She is studying for a Masters in Interpreting and Translation in French and Spanish and has spent this semester in Lyon, France.  I haven’t had the opportunity to go out and visit Lyon unfortunately which is something that I did want to do.  Maybe in the future, it’s another place to add to my long list of places that I would like to visit.  She’ll be home a few days before Christmas and will be home until mid January I think before she moves to Madrid, Spain for her second semester.  The life of a university student!  I definitely want to visit Madrid though and I have a block of annual leave in February so hopefully I will get some free digs for a week.

Unfortunately, my annual leave for April onwards won’t be released until January at the earliest and at the minute I haven’t booked my Kilimanjaro trip or put my John O’Groats to Lands End cycle firmly in the diary (these being the two biggest undertakings).  There is a trip to Kilimanjaro that I have my eyes on and I am tempted to book it and take a gamble.  Worst case scenario is that I have to try and move my annual leave or swap my shifts with colleagues which can be done, it’s just an extra thing to think about!  I think I am going to have to make a decision soon however, places are limited and I want to ensure that I definitely get to go and climb this mountain.  In terms of travel vaccines I am lucky that through my work with the International Search and Rescue team I am vaccinated to travel pretty much anywhere in the world.  Although I am due a couple of boosters which I will have to get sorted out soon!  Needles are my arch nemesis, but sometimes you’ve got to do things you hate in order to have the experiences that you want most.

I will let you know as soon as the dates are firm and the trips are organised!

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour” – Elon Musk

If you haven’t already, please donate today.  Just follow the link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

J.

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What drives me?

I have spoken regularly in my previous blogs about having dreams, about not taking life for granted and about why I am doing this whole thing in the first place.

So in this piece I have decided to discuss what drives me.  What makes me tick?

A huge part of the motivation that I have had to do things and achieve stems purely from being successful and wanting to give something back.  Being told that you have done something well or winning a competition is an addictive feeling, at least it definitely is for me.  I have said before that I am an extremely competitive person, that is something which I will openly admit.  But I think being competitive is an important attribute to develop.  It gives you a determination to learn and hone skills and it encourages a will to succeed.  For me competition brings excitement as well as making me slightly nervous.  Why nervous?  I simply hate losing.  I think I am a good loser, but I still hate it.

I used to play the tuba in a number of successful different bands.  One of the most successful bands I played in was the Carnoustie and District Youth Brass Band or CDYBB.  CDYBB was made up of brass and percussion players from Carnoustie and the surrounding area.  From its formation the band was highly successful and won 1st place in the Scottish Youth Championships in its first outing.  The band went from strength to strength and quickly became regarded as one of the finest youth brass bands in Scotland.  We regularly gained first place in competitions and winning almost became the norm.  We were extremely well drilled and the attention to detail was very high.  I remember we travelled to Manchester to compete for the first time in the British Youth Brass Band Championships which were held at the Royal Northern College of Music.  The band went to Manchester undefeated from its inception and optimism was high for a good result.  In the end we placed fourth in our first British Championships.  Immediately after the result I was gutted.  We had only placed fourth!  It wasn’t until someone put it in perspective that I realised it really was a fantastic result.  It was our first ever time competing against the best bands in the UK and placing fourth out of a large field was actually far better than we should have ever expected.  We returned to Manchester year on year and in 2010 won the most prestigious section the ‘premier section’ and became the best youth brass band in the UK.  For me there is no greater feeling at the end of months of long, tedious and stressful practices than to pull of a near perfect performance and come away with a win.

I reckon I tasted success with the band more than in any other area of my life, but then again, it probably occupied the largest amount of my time!  Honestly, it proved that practice makes perfect!

But what drives me now?  Well for one I have a job that I enjoy, that gives me satisfaction and earns me some money.  Some people find it hard to comprehend but I genuinely enjoy going into work and seeing what the day will bring.  We all know each other pretty well and probably better than the average colleagues do.  But that’s part of why I like it and why I enjoy going into work.  It gives me the opportunity to travel and to enjoy so many amazing experiences.  It does not make me rich however and if that is what you want from life, firefighting is probably not for you.  You’ve got to love what you do and for me it makes being motivated easy.

I set goals.  Goal setting allows me to focus more and ensure that I keep working towards something.  If it’s just a thought I am far more likely to put it off or not do it at all.  The beauty of goal setting is that it takes no time at all and a pen and a piece of paper is pretty much all the equipment that you need.  Think of what you want to achieve, write it down, estimate how long it will take you, write that down and you are done.  But for me the most important part of goal setting is reviewing it.  Realising that you have achieved something is powerful and if you never look back at your goals you may never appreciate your own success.  Always review.  In fact make your list of goals so obvious to you every day that you can’t miss them.  Please don’t ever think it will be a quick process however, you have to have a determination to persevere until you succeed, I have found that out a number of times!  So many people with dreams and the potential to achieve them don’t, simply because they never stick with them.  So as ‘Dory’ always said “just keep swimming”.

“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world.  Try not to bash into the walls too much.  Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.  That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” – Steve Jobs

Your ideas matter, your contribution matters.  You could change the world, just do it.

J.

Why Kilimanjaro?

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As some of you may know, one of the major challenges which I am aiming to take on as part of my mission to raise £1 Million for Cancer Research UK is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, Africa.  It is the tallest mountain in continental Africa and also the tallest free standing mountain in the world.  Kilimanjaro stands at 5895m or 19341ft and was first climbed in 1889.  To try and give that some kind of context, Ben Nevis the highest mountain in the UK stands at 1345m or 4411ft.  In mountaineering terms Kilimanjaro is a somewhat simple mountain to climb as it doesn’t require a great deal of technical climbing and rope work.

Kilimanjaro is a massive challenge however and something which I am not taking lightly.  The biggest danger with climbing a mountain of that size is the possibility of developing acute mountain sickness (AMS) or referred to commonly as altitude sickness.  AMS typically occurs above 2400 meters of 8000ft.  Unfortunately there is very little way of predicting how someone will cope at altitude.  In order to minimise my chances of developing it I will need to try and train and eat foods that increase my red blood cells that will help carry the oxygen around my body.  Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain I have climbed to date and is a little more than half of the altitude where most people begin to experience the effects of AMS.

Another crucial part of gaining success in high altitude climbing is acclimatisation.  You have to take time and allow your body to adapt to the lowering levels of oxygen in the air.  If you don’t give yourself time to acclimatise then your body will find it significantly harder to function at altitude.

It is my intention to climb Kilimanjaro with guides from a British based mountaineering company who will hopefully help guide me to the summit.  The climb will take around 14 days, possibly slightly less.  I am hopeful that my holiday allocation for next year will be available soon and I can look at booking the trip and getting it firmly added to the diary.

It has long been an ambition of mine to climb Kilimanjaro and I think it fits what I am trying to achieve perfectly.  It will be an immense physical and mental challenge which will be one of the most difficult things I have ever undertaken.  There are a number of other mountains around the world which I am keen to attempt, but, given my lack of experience at these altitudes I felt it sensible to take on a mountain that had a slightly lower technical skill requirement.

I firmly believe that whilst it is important to set challenging goals for yourself they must also be realistic ones that you can achieve.  I think it would be pretty foolish to say that I was going to summit Mount Everest at this stage.  Whilst it would be an incredible experience to attempt and achieve the summit of the worlds highest peak I do not have the experience nor the fitness to attempt a mountain like that at the present time.  I think Kilimanjaro is a good starting point for a first high altitude summit.  We must all be dreamers however.  Maybe one day I will attempt Mount Everest, I suspect it would more than likely be as a way of raising money for Cancer Research UK.  Climbing mountains like that is also horrifically expensive and would require massive corporate sponsorship.  But that’s an idea for the future and I shall concentrate on Kili for the time being!

We must dare to dream and dare to be different.  If you have a positive approach you can achieve anything.  This is something that I genuinely believe in.  I know so many people who have positively fought cancer and won their battles.  We should take their positivity and thirst for life as an inspiration and use it to drive ourselves forward and achieve the things we never thought we could.  Why?  Well the more people engage in research and push the boundaries of what we believe to be possible, the sooner we will beat cancer and prevent the suffering of patients, their families and their friends.  The day  we finally beat cancer is coming and we can all help by doing our little bit.  By donating even just £1 we are helping bring that day closer and that excites me.

Nothing is impossible when we put our minds to it.  No task is too big or too complicated.  Sometimes things take time, but that does not make them impossible.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela

Donating is quick and easy just follow the link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

J.