I watched “Iron Cowboy” the other day. For those of you not in the know, this is a documentary about James Lawrence and his attempt at a 50/50/50 which was to complete the equivalent of 50 Ironman triathlons, in 50 states in 50 days. 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, topped off with a 26.2 mile marathon, every single day, for 50 straight days. My reaction was probably the same as most of you when I first understood the premise. Unthinkable, impossible, absurd. Yet, after the first few minutes of watching, I realized it WAS real and spent the next 90 minutes trying to wrap my head around the reality of this beast of a man.
I am not a triathlete. I was kinda an athlete in a former life, but even professional baseball is a sport filled with “non athletes” (at least that’s what we called pitchers back in the day. “Sorry Kowita”, I mean when you have a keg in the locker room, come on) I have completed 2 Boston marathons in my 30’s as a bandit and currently, I “try” and run about 2x’s a week and when I do, it’s usually not more than 4 miles. I once tried to ride my mountain bike from Peoria IL to Glendale CA when I was 21, but no one told me I shouldn’t bring my guitar and a hardcover edition of Lonesome Dove, so I flamed out 5 days later in Kansas City. I own a proper road bike now and have recently ridden as far as 50 miles in a day, but the last time I did that type of mileage, I ended up at a BBQ joint in Downtown Providence, icing my liver and had to have my wife come pick me up. As far as swimming goes, I hate it, but that didn’t stop me from trying my own mini 1/10 version of a triathlon at the YMCA one evening last year and failed miserably. The point being in all this long winded background, is this; a single Ironman is out of reach and unthinkable for 99% of us and the idea that a man can do 50 in a row, seems simply impossible.
After finishing this particular documentary, I felt the same way I do after watching similar shows where people complete superhuman feats or some extraordinary, “bigger than themselves” type of endeavor. I think Netflix should change it’s name to. “Netflix, guaranteed to make you feel bad about yourself” Think about it. We eat crap, drink crap, while we watch crap that makes us feel like crap! I digress- I mean, this dude (spoiler alert) just did 50 freakin triathlons and I can’t even keep my garage clean. I’m such a loser.
The introspection and self loathing continued into the next day as I bemoaned another wasted Friday night on the couch and also tried to grasp the bigger meaning and the lesson for me. Although the 50/50/50 challenge was mired in controversy and received heavy criticism from multiple fronts, my intent here, is not to critique Lawrence, his motivation or his character. I discovered that my takeaway was simply that his accomplishment was an opportunity for deep introspection into the uncharted capacity of my own potential and the untapped power of the human will.
Everything for me usually ends up as a business analogy and this was definitely going to take a turn under that microscope. If James Lawrence can do THAT, then I too have similar potential, right? Which means, I am not just miles away from my limits, but light years! Even as I consider myself someone who is in “good shape” the reality of what lays dormant and untapped in me as a man is simply jarring.
The same analysis goes for my remodeling business or my fledgling real estate investments or this Remodel Radio blog and so I ask this question; If the chasm between my physical capabilities and my potential is as wide as it is, then how wide is the delta between where my business is now and where it could be? Oh Crap. “Waitress???”
I knew the answer before the question was even finished in my head. Not even close. As business owners, we don’t always know what we should be doing different or more of, but we do know we could be doing so much more. We know this, just by looking around and seeing what our competition is doing. We see other individuals and companies operating at a levels, that are oceans apart from where we are, despite the fact that they provide the exact same product or service that we do. So what’s the difference? What separates the James Lawrence’s of the world from us mere mortals? What separates the top performers in our industries from our own business? I believe it is one single thing.
I asked The Google and was surprised to find so many different definitions, both as a verb and a noun. Here are the main definitions of will as a noun. These blow me away.
- the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action
- control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses
- a deliberate or fixed desire or intention
- the thing that one desires or ordains
|Synonyms: determination, firmness of purpose, fixity of purpose, will power, strength of character, resolution, resolve, resoluteness, purposefulness, single-mindedness, drive, commitment, dedication, doggedness, tenacity, tenaciousness, staying power, backbone, spine|
Question– Would you use these words or definitions to describe you and/or your business? If you are like me, probably not. yikes!
Extraordinary people and extraordinary businesses, operate on a completely different level of consciousness. They have learned to control their behaviors and make decisions regardless of what they feel like at a particular time during the process. You see this time and time again in the Iron Cowboy documentary. Lawrence wants to quit, his body is screaming at him from inside and out to stop. Not only is he injured from all of the abuse he is putting his body through, he is so immensely tired and fatigued, that at times, he literally falls asleep on his bike and crashes, yet he pushes on and continues, despite what he feels like doing, which is to stop. His WILL is so incredibly powerful, that he is able to override his unending desire to stop, to remove the pain and retreat into rest. It is surreal, to say the least.
The difference between a business that operates on The Iron Cowboy level, versus the status quo, is their ability, or more specifically the owner’s ability, to make decisions around goals, the process and then actually following through, REGARDLESS of the obstacles, pain, discomfort, criticism, sorrow, self pity or how one feels along the way. That is what makes The Iron Cowboy story so incredible, he actually followed through, despite not feeling like it most of the time! This is the difference between the elites and the average in any field or endeavor. Obviously easier said than done, but that is my point. It’s the exact opposite of easy! It’s downright excruciating and tortuous if you are doing it right. Yet, it’s most likely the exact opposite of how we are running our business and probably most aspects of our lives today and why most of us are not where we WANT to be.
As always, I hope you enjoyed the short read and found it useful. I welcome all of my reader’s continual comments and feedback, both positive and constructive. Thank you!