The date…May 6, 2017
The time…5:45 AM
The venue… Autodromo Nazionale Monza outside Milan, Italy.
The goal…Break the 2-Hour Marathon Barrier
In one of the greatest challenges of human endurance…three of the best runners in the world took off with the goal to run 26.2 miles in under 2 hours.
The race was underway. But the the dream was born long before.
Sandy Bodecker, Nike’s VP of Special Projects, was the genesis and driving force behind Breaking 2.
The man with the audacity to dream of taking a run at the barriers that define who we are and challenge the very limits we think hold us down.
He believes so much in this dream, he even had 1:59:59 tattooed on his wrist.
Eliud Kipchoge, a Kenyan would cross the finish line in 2:00:25…two hours and 25 seconds.
The fastest marathon ever run by any human being.
The attempt was beautiful to watch, and even though coming up short…it was a thrilling achievement in itself.
His run redefined the limits of human potential and showed the world that more is possible.
Nike’s passionate pursuit of pushing the limits of the human mind and body reminds us that glory and honor come to those “who spend themselves in a worthy cause” and encourages us to praise the people who are out there fighting the big battles…even if those battles end in defeat.
You can spend your life accepting the odds, playing a small game and pursuing tiny goals.
Or, you can choose to spend your life beating the odds, living large and challenging yourself to unleash your greatness.
This message is not about running races. It’s about soft efforts, diminishing ambitions…and shrinking balls.
In the spirit of calling a spade a spade…we’ve become a society ofsoft, wimpy, fearful, politically correct, entitlement driven, hyper-sensitive and convenience-addicted weenies.
I am not of this tribe. I loathe mediocrity. I find excuse making revolting
And, I believe many parents and institutions are handicapping their children by shielding them from obstacles, hard work, failure, testing limits, pushing boundaries and suffering.
Rather than placing blame and focusing on the problem…I prefer to educate and provide a sustainable solution for building a strong, vibrant and responsibility driven society.
THE VICE OF PLEASURE
In Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the pleasure principle is the instinctive seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain in order to satisfy our most basic and primitive urges, including hunger, thirst, anger, and sex.
Sometimes referred to as the pleasure-pain principle, this motivating force helps drive behavior…but it also intensely desires instant satisfaction.
The Pleasure Principle helps us understand why people by nature are quite predictable, easily manipulated and seemingly defenseless when it comes to issues of ease and convenience.
In other words…without a challenge, without the conscious pursuit of the strenuous life, and without self or externally enforced resistance…most people will not stretch themselves…they will not willingly put themselves in a position of vulnerability…they will not become their own hero…and they most certainly will not grow into their full potential.
The majority of people are not hard acts to follow…they look for the low bar by focusing on the bare minimum they can do to get by…they settle for mediocrity…they are quick to call it quits, and capitulate their dreams to the smallest of obstacles and the slightest whiff of fear.
They are inclined to procrastination and laziness, and they tend to crawl into the false sense of security promised by the comfort zone.
They create diversions by hiding behind excuses, habits, customs and the latest technology…and in the name of protective posturing; they do everything in their power to minimize risk, prevent rejection and shy away from any form of responsibility or accountability.
As a result of these behavioral indiscretions (poor choices), they display the mental strength of a 98-pound weakling…they throw commitment, character and courage under the bus…they undermine their own reputation.
By doing so, they rob themselves and the world of another masterpiece, another great book…another superior teacher.
THE VIRTUE OF DOING HARD THINGS
The solution is to do hard things…to live the strenuous life…to pursue challenging goals.
Hard, challenging goals or pursuits are illuminating in that they immediately expose weakness and reveal strength.
They do that by testing your mind, resolve, character and commitment…as you will either RISE TO MEET the mental demands and physical rigors of a challenge or you will succumb to them.
Ultimately, your response to a hard task or challenging goal exposes you for the courageous or cowardly person you really are.
And, precisely because victory begins in the mind…all challenges are initially won or lost between your ears.
THE CHALLENGE RESPONSE PRINCIPLE
The human body serves as the perfect metaphor for understanding the importance of pursuing hard, challenging goals for the simple reason that the body is built to adapt and respond to demands that are placed upon it.
The stronger the demand…the stronger the response.
Physical muscles continue to grow and strengthen through the challenge response principle.
This principle is based on the theory that muscles must be challenged in order to upgrade and grow and that they will progressively work to overcome a resistance force when required to do so.
The opposite is also true, as physical muscles will downgrade and weaken with the absence of a challenge.
As an example, if you simply lift the same amount of weight each time out, you keep your muscles in a comfort zone and don’t provide any resistance force for them to adapt and grow.
The Challenge Response Principle…operates the same way in every area of our lives, and that is why we all NEED to be challenged.
And not just physically challenged, we need intellectual, leadership, spiritual, relational, sales, and any type of performance challenge that stretches us to grow, forces us to overcome adversity, tests our character and commitment, and which inspires us to resist the gravitational pull of the comfort zone.
When will your finest hour come, and how will it arrive?
Do you really think it will materialize without a challenge, without being pushed to your limits, without perseverance being tested, without being tormented and put through your own personal hell?
In short, for an individual, team, company, community or country to become great, it requires that they do hard things by looking for and rising to the great challenges that are thrust upon them…or the ones they thrust upon themselves.
While I can’t promise that you’ll be taller, better looking or have improved gas mileage as a result of using these resources… I can promise that what you’ll learn will help you to transform your life… and fast track all of your goals.