Sunday, 5 August 2007

Five Lessons on Goal Achievement from Badwater, Part 2

Lesson 3


You get nowhere in life without persistence. You will make mistakes and things will not go according to plan. This is inevitable and is perhaps the most important aspect of goal achievement because it is how you deal with your setbacks that will determine whether you are a winner or a loser.

I like Robert Allen's way of looking at failure - as long as he is falling forward he's happy. For Frank McKinney:

"Relentless forward motion was our mantra."

There were several moments during the race where McKinney was in trouble. He got serious blisters. His feet become so swollen he had to customize his shoes - cut the front and sides off. He sprained his ankle. He was violently sick vomiting for 20 minutes and losing the nutrients his body so desperately needed to complete this ordeal and then he lost his appetite. At one stage he even began hallucinating, something he had not experienced in his previous ultramarathons. Despite all this he kept going.

He laughed, he cried, pounded his fists in frustration. He sang and danced and collapsed on the ground when he could go no further and somehow found the strength to rise again. He questioned the sanity of attempting to complete this race for a third time but he kept going.

At around mile 60 his brother Bob suggested "let's set a goal of another mile and then we can take a break" to which McKinney responded, "my only goal is to put one foot in front of the other."

And that is all that is asked of you. When the going gets tough just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Break your goal into smaller steps and celebrate each milestone you reach. You will find the strength and energy you need to achieve your goal.

Lesson 4


You have to have a plan. Nothing of any great measure is ever achieved without having a plan, without being organized and disciplined. You know what they say - fail to plan; plan to fail. Death Valley is breathtakingly beautiful and deadly. To survive in such an inhospitable environment you have to be prepared for any eventuality.

Without organization there's chaos. With some goals, this may simply cost you time and may result in you losing out on some opportunities. In McKinney's case it could have cost him his life. McKinney's preparation included devising a detailed race plan and training schedule; organizing clothing; first aid equipment; foods; supplements; not just water but special fluids that would provide hydration for his body as well as much nutrients and energy that his body would be using up at an alarming rate during this event; ice and coolers; vehicles and more.

"Improve your organization; improve your results."

Still all this would have been to no avail if he didn't have an effective system to get supplies, etc. to him as and when he needed them. For this he needed a first-rate team.

Lesson 5


No great goal was ever accomplished without teamwork. Teamwork goes hand in hand with organization. All the equipment and supplies that McKinney had would have been of no use if he did not have an efficient and cohesive team working with him. He needed a team where each member knew his or her role and performed their roles effectively and was also versatile enough to assist in other areas if the need arose. He needed a team that would support and encourage him when he was at the limits of his endurance.

When McKinney arrived in Death Valley only four out of seven crew members were able to participate of which only two had experience and neither of them were runners. Luckily, his team which included his wife, Nilsa, grew to five by the start of the race with a crew member driving seven hours to help fill in for those could not make it. Another, team member paced him for 50 miles! When you commit to doing something extraordinary others will follow suit.

There is also something special about the elite athletes who take part in Badwater. Yes, they want to perform at their best yet they are able to transcend the competitive spirit. McKinney offered encouragement to runners he passed and other runners, in particular, Marshall Ulrich, a veteran with 14 official Badwater finishes to his credit offered Mckinney his support and advice.

These runners ran their own race and still ran as a team.

There are several other lessons on goal achievement I learnt from McKinney's experience of running an ultramarathon through Death Valley. I am grateful that I can learn these lessons without going through such a test of my mind, body and spirit. I hope this report has given you the inspiration to set and achieve challenging goals. As Tony Robbins says:

"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

Frank McKinney did his third Badwater ultramarathon in support of his Caring House Project Foundation. For further information about the CHPF and or to make a donation please click on the link below:

Caring House Project Foundation

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