This a personal story, and it's sorta long… but I think it's pretty cool, and there's an important lesson here that totally relates to business… and two of the MOST IMPORTANT traits you need to have in your business life…
But this story starts off with mountain biking… which is one of my passions. I really love getting out on the trails for a ride… and I live in one of the best places on the planet to ride – Durango, Colorado.
But last summer I did something really crazy…
You see, I'm a solid rider with lots of experience, but I'm not a racer.
But I went and entered a REALLY difficult race – in fact just starting this race should probably qualify me as certifiably insane…
It was right here in Durango… it was about 22 miles long, with 5,000 vertical feet of climbing. And it was a tough course… narrow, twisty singletrack – maybe 18-30 inches wide… with big rocks and boulders and cliffs and roots and drop-offs and such. Some of the trail was so steep that it was hard to even WALK on…
Sound crazy enough?
Now add in one more piece – this was the Singlespeed World Championships… which meant that everyone's bike had ONE gear (instead of the typical 27 gears found on most mountain bikes.)
Why a singlespeed? Well it's a LONG story, and I'm still trying to figure it out myself… but I think a big part of the reason is simply because it's REALLY HARD. In other words, this was going to be a suffer-fest.
So why did I do it?
Well the first reason is that it was the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP and it was in Durango. I've never raced a world championship before, and I probably won't again. I figured I just HAD to do it.
The second reason is that my teenage son (who is also an avid mountain biker) thought it sounded really cool, and he insisted I sign up and do it (actually, he pretty much just signed me up and told me I was going to do it.)
So my plan for the race was to be in pure survival mode… I was just trying to finish, and hopefully not dead last.
My big concern was they had a 2.5 hour cut off at the halfway point… if you didn't make the cut off, they basically were going to pull you from the race (for safety reasons.) I knew that making that cutoff would be tight, especially with a super-crowded trail at the start (after all, there were 1,000 racers and an 18 inch wide trail.)
In any case, race day came, and the starting bell went off. And I got a GREAT start – I was up and over the first huge climb in good order, and I completely railed the downhill.
I'll tell you… it was absolutely crazy dropping into the feed zone (the halfway point, where you could get re-supplied with food/water). There was this 15-minute-long screaming downhill into the feed, and as you dropped down you could just hear the crowd at the feed zone… a huge crowd of people yelling, screaming, singing, dancing. It was just a huge party – a World Championship party – and you could hear it all on that entire downhill. Definitely a huge adrenalin rush.
In any case, I made it through the cutoff about 15 minutes before the deadline and headed out for the second half. More tough climbing that went on and on and on. People all along the course, all super-supportive and yelling out encouragement to every rider.
Coming into the finish was another amazing experience… the entire last half mile was nothing but people lining the course and cheering you on, music cranked up… just a crazy atmosphere.
It's amazing how having people enthusiastically cheering you on can be so powerful. It literally makes you faster, makes you achieve more…
And it was beautiful to see that finish line. It took me 3 hours, 50 minutes to finish… which I was completely stoked about.
I have no idea where I came in terms of placing – I know the fastest riders (including the new World Champion) were two hours ahead of me, but there were also riders coming in for more than an hour after I finished.
But there was one thing missing at the finish – my son.
I had lost track of him in all the insanity, but I had assumed he was ahead of me. He should have finished long before me, but he was still out on the course when I came in.
As the minutes ticked by I started to get worried for him. He's a much stronger and faster rider than I am… but he hadn't finished.
And then… FINALLY… he finished. And everything became clear.
You see, my son had a true HERO ride…
His seat literally broke off just after the start – in the first mile of the race (file that under “s*** happens”).
But he REFUSED to quit… and did the entire thing without being able to sit down on a seat, and with a naked seatpost waiting if he ever forgot and tried sitting down.
Since he was dealing with the broken seat (and trying to fix it), he lost a lot of time early… and he was the LAST rider to make the midway cutoff… he came through right at the 2.5 hour deadline.
That would have been a logical time for him to just give up. But he kept going… and finished the full 22-mile race. It took him right around 4 hours 30 mins.
Can you imagine standing up and pedaling as hard as you can for 4.5 hours? That's a long time to be standing on your pedals… but he wasn't gonna quit.
What an epic ride.
The course was absolutely insane to begin with… doing it on a singlespeed made it even crazier. Doing it without a seat and standing on the pedals the entire way – that's off the charts.
This video is only 7-seconds long, but it's worth way more than a thousand words… this is right at the finish line… and you can see the naked seatpost. It's painful for me to even look at the video:
(The girl screaming encouragement in the video is his sister.)
So a while ago I shared this story with the folks in my mastermind group… and they found it really powerful.
Well, this is what one of the people in my mastermind (who is one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs I know) said:
“Dedication and perseverance can overcome anything life has to offer.”
And you know what? He's right.
Am I proud of my son? Yes… I couldn't be more proud.
Just like I'm proud of every person reading this who dusts themselves off every time they face a set back.
The reality is that we're business owners… entrepreneurs. And things don't ALWAYS go right in our businesses. Sometimes we have setbacks.
But perseverance and dedication are two of the key things that separate the people having long-term success from the people that just don't make it.
Now here's a couple of important points:
KEY POINT #1: My son knew what he could do. He already had a “successful system”… he knew that if he applied that system, he would be challenged, but he could gut it out.
If your business isn't based on a solid system or a solid business model, then all the perseverance and dedication won't make it a success.
KEY POINT #2: Up above I wrote:
“It's amazing how having people enthusiastically cheering you on can be so powerful. It literally makes you faster, makes you achieve more…”
This is key in EVERY area of your life. You need to surround yourself with people that are cheering you on. People that celebrate your every success. These people will spur you to success.
And you need to avoid the people that are tearing you down. The people that are telling you that you can't do things, that you shouldn't dream your dreams. These people will tear you down.
Changing your life to have the right people around you isn't easy. But doing this one thing will make an incredible, breathtaking difference in your life… what I'm talking about is protecting your mental state – your self-confidence.
And that's absolutely critical for us as entrepreneurs. In fact, as entrepreneurs and business builders, our confidence is one of our most precious assets… and it's something you have to actively work on protecting.
So what do you think… what are some of the ways that you increase and protect YOUR confidence?