Hello again and thank you for taking the time to read my blog this month. Last month I wrote about the impacts of a T1D diagnosis not just on an individual but on an entire family of caregivers whom have to deal with this disease. It requires constant assessment, evaluation and management. Hence, I have witnessed those whom are successful in the control of their type1 diabetes more often than not carry these skills into success across other parts of their lives. Athlete’s are the most present and relevant example to my life of course but in many other domains I see people with type1 diabetes who achieve good control of their blood sugar levels rise to considerable levels of success. The current prime minister of the UK Theresa May as well as managing a headache of a Brexit strategy is also a proud T1 diabetes management champion. She became the first member of parliament in the UK to break the strict ‘no eating in the chamber’ rule for the house of commons. Theresa May admits that diabetes is not a straightforward condition to control
“I hadn’t appreciated the degree of management it requires”.
Being able to make big decisions in high pressure/ high stakes situations is from what I gather a crucial skill for those in management positions like Theresa May. For those of us dealing with type1 diabetes we are often unknowingly making this type of high stakes decisions every hours. How much to inject, how much to eat are regular high stakes decisions that us with type1 are making. Subsequently, I believe making a good decision when the pressure is high comes a little more naturally to those of us with type1. We have had lots of practice ;).
This week I have been working with an amateur Australian cycling team named GPM-Stulz in the ‘Tour of Tasmania’ a very difficult 5 day race around my home state. My role with this team has been that of Sports Director or ‘DS’. The DS is responsible for planning the race strategy for the team of 7 riders during a tour as well as driving the team vehicle behind the race and supporting the riders during the race. A bit like a soccer coach would shout instructions to their team from the sideline, the DS shouts instructions from a car travelling at around 55km/h only millimetres from the bumper of other cars and numerous cyclists. Their are a lot of decisions to be made as a DS and it is imperative these are done extremely quickly to ensure success in the race and the safety of those around you. I love this work and have had the pleasure of doing it a lot since I stopped road racing myself. I have worked with this team GPM-Stulz and also the Team Novo Nordisk Development team. I do however always experience those sensations of doubt and anxiety before each race about my ability to make the right decisions under the high pressure race environment. The 7 riders in the team’s safety and success in the race is essentially hanging off the decisions you make.
However, as with anxiety about diabetes and anxiety about many other issues in life, I find solace in reminding myself of the more difficult challenges and decisions I have made before in life. The best decisions are made under composure and composure generally follows on from confidence. Having made hundreds of thousands of decisions in my life about managing the levels of sugar in my blood I can rest assured I can make a good decision about race strategy whilst driving a car at 60kph. I find when a decision is made and delivered with confidence and composure it is almost always respected. Even when a race situation may seem overly hectic, stressful and overwhelming I am constantly reminding myself of the importance of composure as a manager (DS). I have been in situations as a racer myself where the DS has been visibly stressed about a situation and have always noted that stress is highly contagious. The riders then take on board this stress which in turn effects their performance on the bike. Whereas the manager whom is confident and composed also shares these sensations and it more often than not brings out the best in the athletes. This week as a team we have achieved 4 podium appearances in 4 days and are poised to take 3rd overall which is a standout result for a low budget, amateur team like ours. Seeing the riders gel as a team and work together for a common goal is a really rewarding sight to see and it has been building better and better results all week for us.
As with many of the topics I write up I am adamant of the carry over messages for living with diabetes. Each month I have been writing there has been a common trend that with the right resources anything really is possible despite the challenges of T1 Diabetes. The attitude is the determining factor of success, as in cycling team management, meeting challenges in diabetes with composure, perspective and confidence has in my experience always lead to the best results. Quiet confidence I think is one of the most underrated and under appreciated attitudes especially among a culture that often like to cut down the ‘tall poppy’ so to speak. For Diabetes management and I believe in other management roles encouraging quiet confidence can go a long way to achieving the best results possible. You got this ;).
After receiving a diagnosis of type1 diabetes at age ten, Justin’s dreams and goals in life were threatened. Turning to cycling to help him cope with type1 diabetes quickly proved to not only be beneficial but also the start to a successful pro cycling career. Justin spent five years as a professional in road cycling travelling the world racing his bike. Dealing with the challenges of sport and diabetes across five different continents has given Justin a wealth of stories and knowledge about dealing with challenges on and off the bike.
Having since transitioned from a pro cycling career to completing two university degrees in psychology and education from Macquarie University in 2015 and being awarded with a University Blues Award for excellence in sport and academics. Justin continues to fuel his competitive streak with multi day mountain bike racing for team SubarumarathonMTB.com, having achieved podium finishes at The Crocodile Trophy, The Simpson Desert BikeChallenge, The Pioneer in New Zealand and The Mongolia Bike Challenge.
Since 2011 Justin has complemented his cycling career with sharing a message of hope, empowerment and overcoming adversity to audiences internationally.