The Secret to Success

by Cherie Gruenfeld November 21, 2018 4 min read

The Secret to Success

Aren’t we all striving for success? We train, make plans, organize things, troll the internet for advice and inspiration, and then we train some more. Yet, so often we go into a race feeling like there are a great many things we’ll face that are out of our control.

I recently read, on this very site, an interesting formula for success:

100% Success = 1% Luck, 1% Talent, 98% Never Quit (Grant Cardone)

If we take Mr. Cardon literally, only 2% of what happens on race day is out of our control. We may encounter bad luck along the way or we may have to admit to not being the most talented athlete in the field. But, that leaves a whopping 98% that we can control – the Never Quit part.

Whether you buy into these percentages or not, there’s no way to quarrel with the obvious fact that hanging in there and never giving up greatly enhances your odds of success.

This brings to mind a few examples of athletes who remind us of the truth in that statement:

The Man with the Halo

Tim Don, a rising star in the world of triathlon, suffered a career-threatening injury. Two days before the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Kona, he was hit by a car while on a training ride, suffering a “hangman’s fracture” to his neck. He was given several options of how they could proceed medically, but there was only one option that gave him any chance of getting back to Ironman racing. This option was to have his head and neck set in a halo brace with the bolts screwed into his skull.

Tim spent a torturous three months, 24/7, in this contraption. Six months after the accident, he ran the Boston Marathon in 2:49. Check out the video, The Man with the Halo.

He hasn’t yet returned to Ironman, but he will. Tim demonstrates the epitome of achieving personal success with very little going for him other than a No Quit attitude.

Allen vs Scott – Iron War

It’s 1989. Mark Allen and Dave Scott are competing in the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

Dave was the reigning champ with 6 wins under his belt. Mark held many other titles, but had been unable to beat Dave at Kona in 5 attempts.

On this day, these two athletes swam, biked and ran shoulder-to-shoulder for 139 miles before Mark pulled ahead for his first World Championship. Each was racing ridiculously far outside his comfort zone, pushing the other with every step. They were racing at a record-breaking pace, running so fast that third place was almost three miles behind them at the end.

The amount of mental strength, fortitude and courage this took for over eight hours is unimaginable.

It has been called “The Greatest Race Ever Run.” It certainly demonstrated the two strongest minds in the race that day. Both wanted the win. Neither was about to give it up to the other. No backing down!

A One-and-Only Chance

In 2005, Jon Blais, a special education teacher in San Diego, stood at the start line in Kona.

Five months before, he had received a medical diagnosis of ALS - literally a death sentence. But Jon was a triathlete and he was determined to race in Kona just once in his lifetime, which meant NOW. Against the advice of every doctor, he did what he could to prepare and went to Kona armed with pure guts and determination, proclaiming: “I’m going to finish if they have to roll me over the finish line!”

Every swim stroke, turn of the pedal and running step was painful and the finish line seemed so far away. But quitting was not an option and, before the midnight cut-off, Jon came to the end of his arduous journey. He got down on the ground and rolled over the finish line…under his own power.

Jon’s No Quit attitude got him the Kona finish he wanted so badly, but, inevitably, Jon lost his battle with ALS. He and his courageous Kona finish are honored by athletes all over the world as they roll across an Ironman finish line.

On every race course, you will witness athletes demonstrating this No Quit attitude. Each has been “in the arena” and emerged with his own personal success.

I believe Theodore Roosevelt says it best in his well-known In the Arena message:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Decide what you want to accomplish, get in the arena and keep workin’ it until you’re successful.

Good luck

Cherie Gruenfeld
Cherie Gruenfeld

Sixteen Ironman Age Group Wins Worldwide Nine-time World #1-ranked Amateur Ironman Triathlete. 2000 WTC Female Age Grouper of the Year 2001, 2007 USA Triathlon Female Grandmaster of the Year. Multiple-time USAT All-American Team (#1 Rank) "Everyday Champion" featured on Wheaties Energy Crunch cereal box. “My first triathlon was a Half IM in ’92 which qualified me for the IM World Championships in Kona. In ’92 in lived in Santa Monica, but now live in the Palm Springs desert with my husband, Lee, who is my biggest fan and supporter. He also writes and takes photos for the World Triathlon Corporation at many of my races. At the end of 2015, I announced my retirement from Ironman racing and am now focusing on 70.3s. My 2016 goal is to win the 70.3 World title in the W70-74 and setting a new course record.” For more information: http://www.cheriegruenfeld.com/


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