What Makes an Iron Man?

Greetings from Reno,

I’m not sure about any of you, but where is the summer disappearing to?! Anyways, today’s blog was prompted by a rather brutal 4000 yard swim at 5:45 this morning, which got me thinking about pains and somehow that led me to finding a blueprint of Iron Man (probably because my half Ironman race is less than 5 weeks away; lots of pain involved in that).

In our business interactions, we deal with people who let us down, people who disappoint, and people who we just can’t stand. But we also bump into people who do remarkable things, people that make our lives better, and people who are just phenomenal at what they do. What do the “iron (wo)men” of business have in common with Ironman champions competing over 70.3 or 140.6 miles? Read on!

  1. They know their stuff – Only triathletes who have competed in many different events over a course of a few years will even consider doing a half or full Ironman. It takes experience and know how. It’s an art to be a successful triathlete. They’ve logged hundreds of hours in training, engaging in healthy eating, and scouring training guides to cram as much knowledge as humanly possible into their brains. The same goes for business workers. They take the time to become an expert in their area, research and network with similarly minded people, and are always looking for the “next best thing” to give them and their company a competitive edge (if only carbon wheels helped me be a better IT guy *sigh*).
  2. They do their homework – A triathlete will not go into a race without taking care of a few research items. They know what to expect from the bike course, have looked into race morning logistics (bring your own TP anyone?), and typically have some kind of rough plan in mind for their day at the races. A business person is not a good asset to a company without plans for the upcoming week, month, year, etc. What would be the point of busting your butt for today when you don’t know what the end goal is?
  3. They have courage – Champions have an unusual amount of courage. Whether it’s risk taking, pushing through an extra lap on the bike, or just blasting through a race with a body part injured. Businesses would never succeed without risk takers and people willing to take chances.
  4. They don’t quit… ever – 17 hours is a very, very long time to be engaged in a competition. The athletes who succeed are the ones who dig deep and suck up the pain while pressing onwards to the finish. A business cannot quit either, and a favorite example of mine is the discovery of the light bulb. Thomas Edison found 1000 ways to not make a light bulb before finally coming up the correct solution. Failing and not succeeding are two very different things and need to be considered as such.

What makes you an Iron Man?


Picture credit. Picture credit 2.


  1. “Failing and not succeeding are two very different things and need to be considered as such.”

    I have never heard that before. Teachers, and mentors, and everyone else have always used the old, “You try, you fail” dichotomy. But your observation is far more accurate. Because failing is giving up or giving in. There is no more doing in failure; there is no more attempting to succeed. And you don’t attempt to succeed again because you don’t believe that you can do more. And that lack of self-belief is not only when, but, to quote an old friend, “WHY you fail.”

      1. By hyper-linking to the old article, I feel you undermine your very profound observation. Because not succeeding is different from failing. Yes, it’s a matter of verbiage, but in this case, very important verbiage. And I don’t think you realize (yet) what you hit upon.

        Initial “Failure” Statement: “I’ll try.”

        Rebuttal: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

        Having the mindset of “I can’t” or “I’ll try” is automatically setting yourself up for failure – because you don’t actually believe in yourself and the ability you have to succeed.

        “I don’t believe it.”
        “That is why you fail.”

        That lack of self-belief is WHY there is failure. Having the mindset that “I didn’t succeed” is having the mindset that “I CAN do it. I just wasn’t able to.” Having the mindset of “I failed” is saying that “I have given up. I can’t do this.”

        Sometimes people make an initial failure statement so that they don’t set themselves up for disappointment. Understandable. There’s a difference between saying something and believing it. When people don’t actually believe that they can do something and they give into it, then they have set themselves up for failure. However, if they believe in themselves and their ability, they will never fail. They may just have a series of non-successes.

        Failure is a state of mind, not a fact. When someone fails, he chooses to fail. With someone who doesn’t succeed, he chooses not to fail. He chooses to succeed again. And he will choose to succeed again and again, believing in himself. And he will only fail when he gives up on his desire to succeed.

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