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How strong is your WHY?

I do these races to better myself, to acquire new skills, life lessons and test my metal in the toughest of elements. In addition, the shared sense of purpose you encounter with like-minded individuals create an experience that is hard to replicate.

 
This year as I wrote on Monday, I entered as a team. I now start these races knowing what it takes to finish and am prepared to handle the majority of obstacles that stand in between me and the finish line.  The team element is a new level of difficulty and risk/reward that increases the learning I bring home. Like mentors before me, I enjoy sharing these experiences and paying forward to those who are interested.
 
Who are some of the characters you meet and why are they there?

  • Three entrepreneurs who ran together 14 years ago in the eco-challenge and are using this as a forum to bond a relationship as they start a new business venture
  • A former top runner and world-class photographer from Korea.  He was there for the amazing sights.
  • A  60-year-old Taiwanese businessman testing his metal and showing his son what is possible.
  • An attorney who had back surgery after an accident to see if can still endure.
  • A retired general in the Canadian Army keeping his skills sharp
  • A 28-year-old Cancer survivor – to prove she can

 
The why’s are strong! 
 
What does it take to complete one of these races?
 
Let’s focus on the long day, which is a pilgrimage in itself, after running four marathons (ish) back to back the previous four days.

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Being present through very cold nights
  • 10/10 leg pain for most of the day
  • Anxiety of completing the team goal 
  • Cold wind and rain crossing the Andes mountain range
  • 43 water crossings in one day!
  • Not falling into rushing river crossings!
  • Managing low energy and a mass calorie deficit to keeping moving

 
My why?
 
Never give up, never give in, never stop learning. Give to others to help them make it through and leverage the power of shared suffering and community to keep moving forward.
 
Where do you come in?
 
Know your why!
 
Go and do something that puts you through the mental anguish you can leverage in the future. What once seemed difficult, will be much easier to accomplish.
 
Whether it’s a job, a meeting, a project, a negotiation, you will have leverage on yourself to be at the top of your game.

Colin

Sons of Patagonia

In every race, you experience new highs, new lows and meet unique personalities of impeccable character.  In the coming weeks, I will profile some of those people from all over the globe.

Once the race is done, everyone heads back to the host hotel to clean off 7 days of grime, lie down on a real bed and reflect on the adventure.

In the evening, the race organization hosts an awards banquet to hand out recognition for the top individuals and teams. To get through these races you need an incredible amount of grit, camaraderie, and belief in yourself.

The logistics that go into the week are incredible. Weather systems in Patagonia are highly unpredictable and we had at least two course change during the week.  The race brings volunteers and partners with local workers to make sure everything runs as smooth as possible.

Every runner is up between 5-6am preparing for the start of each day.  We need hot water for our breakfast and often corral around the campfires in order to warm up. Days can be warm (or not) and nights are cold.

Often simple acts of kindness by volunteers or the extra effort they put in can mean an incredible amount to runners.

As the awards were handed out and winners made quick thank you speeches, each received a round of applause.  The spirit award for those who are seen living the values of the race and helping others always receive a heavy round of applause and often the loudest.

This race was unique.

As the race organizers thanked everyone involved for making the event a success, a surprising thing happened.

The applause that started to rise was not for the runners, all 300+ warriors who battled the elements and all well deserved.

It was not for the individual or team winners who came out on top of an elite field.

It was not for the volunteers, who were up early and worked extremely hard.

The applause, no the standing ovation was for a ragtag bunch of laborers, the Sons of Patagonia.

These men of the mountains set up and moved all our camps every day.  When we arrived at our first camp, they were chopping wood to build fires. They were attacking huge trunks of wood that took 10 hacks just to make a single dent in the large trunks.

They were up two hours before we were up in the blackness of night. They didn’t come from much, yet they beamed with pride of their work. You could tell they were happy. Living off the land and full of cheer.

Our community of runners is not easy to impress.  High-performance athletes, entrepreneurs, and extremely successful business leaders.

The entire room turned to face the men at the back of the room and gave them a raucous standing ovation meant for champions.

There were tears in some eyes, the rest beaming with pride.

The point:

It doesn’t matter what your profession is, it’s how you show up, the effort and pride you put into your work.

People are always watching and hard work never goes unnoticed.

Colin

Sacrifice for the team

We are officially done the race and resting in Bariloche! What an incredible adventure! I can’t say enough about what a spectacular week the race organizers put on, the professionalism of the local camp team and the spirit of the volunteers and fellow competitors.

When we started the week, what success looked like to us as a team was:

1) Start as a team, finish as a team
2) Finish in the top 3/5 teams
3) Finish in the top 1/3 of all competitors
4) Have many laughs along the way and enjoy the journey

We delivered on all those goals and made memories to last a lifetime.

We almost blew up as a team on day 2 and found a way to hold it together to finish out strong!

We ran through hot climates, alpine forest, the Andes mountain range, national parks, private lands, saw the most incredible stars and finished at one of the most recognizable extinct volcanoes in the world, Tronador.  Spanish for Thunder, Tronador is located on the border between Argentina and Chile and is named for the falling seracs, which we heard while sleeping!

Quick Stats:

  • 300+ Runners from 50 Countries entered the race
  • We finished number 90, 91, 92
  • 3rd Place team
  • We went through 43 water crossings on the last day alone!

Sacrifices made

Jesse

We came close to redlining his motor on the 2nd day and putting him out of the race. He pushed through very uncomfortable circumstances to finish the day. He went to bed at 6 pm two nights in a row to recuperate. Jesse would rebound to be our strongest runner on the last day.

Colin

After running well and faster than I had gone before in the first four days, the body started to break down. In the last long stage, I pushed the body to the brink and beyond in order to help get our team in before sunset and our goal. I pushed through 10/10 pain in many areas of the body to not let the team down.

Ash

He lead the pace for us almost every day.  He had to put personal pride on the back burner and his normal ranking aside to help get our team in at the end of each day. He was out on the course longer than he was comfortable with to make sure we could finish as a team. With this race, he now becomes the all-time leader in races finished in the Racing the Planet series, with 22!

To paraphrase Ash’s advice throughout the week:

“If you are going to run 10 flags and walk one flag, then do it.  Stick to the system and be disciplined. Run through the corners, fight for that extra step. If you do that every hour, over a 250KM week-long race, it adds up significantly.”

Nothing comes easy.  You need to work for everything you get.

Colin

Fundraising Update – With your generous donations, including the Salesforce match we are at $5,000. My contribution will take us over $10,000! Thank you!

I am running to raise money for the Kilimanjaro Education Foundation to support building classrooms in Tanzania, Africa. You still have time to make your donation count!

Check out the story here & how YOU can contribute

How to prepare for your biggest talk ever

When I was a sales rep, I used to get nervous presenting in front of customers or even my own sales team.  Groups or 8-10 were intimidating to me!
 
I made a decision that good public speaking was a skill I want, no need, to have.
 
What did I do?
  • I took a one-day presentation class offered by my company
  • I took a 13 weeknight class offered by our University in Toronto
  • I put my hand up for any chance to present in front of our company
  • I found colleagues inside and outside the company that also wanted to learn a great skill and asked them to join. It kept us both accountable and helped have an internal advocate when I needed it.
  • I found my own secret sauce. I combined my skill at work (sales) with my passion in life (running) to make a unique presentation that people would want to hear.
I made some big improvements and some crash and burns, along the way!
I slowly moved from being more comfortable in front of teams of ten to regional meetings of 30-40, to speak at our Salesforce tour events with 100-200.
 
I have moved from sweaty palms and a nervous pit in my stomach to gratitude and excitement for every opportunity I get.
 
Yesterday was one of my biggest talks yet at our Sales Summit Session at Dreamforce in front of 300 people! The feedback from the crowd was incredible.
 
If this is a skill you want or need to have…just start by taking a class and practicing in front of friends, peers and slowly you will get there.
 
Have the courage to take the first step!
 
Colin

 

Characteristics of a 3 time championship team

I was talking to a mentor of mine last week who is the CEO of a local company in Toronto and a top-notch Athlete. He is actually not (self-described) a very good runner, however, he makes up for it in pure athletic ability, strategy, and competitiveness.
 
I asked him advice for the upcoming race I am doing in Patagonia in November as I will be running for the first time as a team.
 
He said “you need to discuss your game plan ahead of time. Start with the objective for the team.  Is it to win or compete?  Think about the obstacles you are going to encounter and the spots where emotion will come into play and have a game plan for how to handle those conversations.
 
If someone is slow, gets sick or injured, know how they react to distress and discuss the best way to handle them.  Two, have your plan B, C, D already talked through when level-headed.  Emotions can make things difficult.
 
Understand how each person is motivated.  For him, he can take the negative and aggressive counsel, for others that will shut them down.  They may need positive support.”
 
This game plan has helped him win three of the toughest endurance races in the world as a team.
 
What can we take away from this in the sales game?
 
When you come upon the stress of month and quarter end, do you have a game plan for how you handle not only your own emotions but those of your team and extended team?
 
The best sales professionals win and lose as a team.
 
What conversations do you need to have to put yourself in the best position to win?
 
Colin

 

Top Leaders Share Four Ways to Approach a Challenge

 

I had dinner with two smart leaders last night. They both work for fast-growing companies and are plugged into other smart companies. 

We had some great conversation on challenges across all components of a business.

 
The consensus:
 
  1. The best companies go through growing pains and it’s often messy. Clarity is on the other side.
  2. Obstacles are just a short-term impediment to be looked upon fondly once overcome. 
  3. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Moving your weakness from a 3 to a 5 isn’t worth missing taking your strength from a 7 to 9.
  4.  Take time out of the business consistently to learn from others. Courses, conferences, taking in knowledge.
 
Thanks for recharging my batteries.
 
Colin

 

4 Intentions for Growth

I faced some headwind this weekend. Whether the number of training hours catching up with me or a just an off weekend, I hit some obstacles.

Sunday Example. 5-hour hike/run

Challenges:

– Body/mind tired from Saturday 4 hour training
– Backpack weight was too heavy to start and couldn’t dump my water weight
– My directions were not detailed enough. I was trying to mimic a North Face race course

These type of things happen in every race. So instead of stewing on it with negative statements, I asked myself a better question.

What’s the upside?

– Adaptability is key to finishing these races
– Better to make mistakes in practice so you can fix for race day
– I’ve got lost on course before. Patience and calm in the storm help you dig out. It was an opportunity to reset and reframe.

Now if I step back and look at some overall intentions of a tough training weekend they were:

To get set hours and mileage in
To problem solve, overcome obstacles and mentally grow
To get some suffering in
To have a little to a lot of fun

This weekend number 4 was less than usual but I still had a little fun!

Mission accomplished.

Colin

Push to your limit, then keep going.

Push to your limit, then keep going. The anxiety you are feeling is growth.

I was fighting with the treadmill with this morning. An hour straight up a hill. Forced speed and incline will push my heart rate over 160-180. Then I ease off until it comes back to 150 beats per minute.

Tough stuff. When I felt like quitting, I pushed a little further. 1 min, 2 min, 5 min.
In the desert, it may be an hour or more. What you do in practice come out in life.

When you hit that resistance today, keep going.

Colin

5 Ways to Handle A Daunting Road Ahead

Many of us climb the hill every week.  

  • Tough conversations with employees, bosses, customers, and peers.  
  • Tight deadlines on projects, deals, and customer events.  
  • Not to mention personal and family challenges. 
How are some of the best leaders seemingly immune to stress?
 
Most of them are not. They have more practice and a template to handle it!
 
What do top leaders share with me?
 
1. Expect it and have a plan.  Visualize your way over and through.
 
2. Know when to recharge and restore so you can hit it hard the next day.
 
3. Look back and review what was once hard and how you overcame it?  The past provides clues.
 
4. Like military men and women making their bunk first thing every morning, get your day started off with even the smallest success.
 
5. Start the day well and end the day well. End the day with a win to ride the momentum into the next morning. This can be as simple as asking ‘what you are grateful for at the end of each day.’
 
Colin