In the summer of 1968, the Olympic games were in full swing in Mexico City. As usual, crowds from around the world gathered to support their country’s elite athletes. Those athletes trained for years to compete, each with the hope of stepping up onto the podium to graciously receive their medal.
But I’m not going to share the story of those who won that year. I’m going to share the story of one who lost in the most obvious way. I want to talk about the marathon runner from Tanzania, John Stephen Akhwari.
As I’m sure all athletes do, John prepared for months if not years to compete at the Olympic level. He was coached, he practiced, he ran, and then ran some more. For all intents and purposes, he checked all of the boxes to ensure that he was ready for the Olympics and even more prepared to take his place on that podium to proudly wave his country’s flag.
It wouldn’t be easy, however. John was stacked up against 56 other marathon runners each with the same mindset to win. There was an unforeseen obstacle in Johns way, though. The altitude of Tanzania is vastly different than that of Mexico City – something John wouldn’t have had the means to prepare for before the games.
While competing in the marathon, John began to cramp up due to the high altitude. During a jockeying for position amongst his fellow competitors, John was hit and fell to the ground severely injuring and dislocating his knee and taking a harsh blow to his shoulder.
With 23 kilometres left in the marathon, John had a decision to make. In agony would he surrender to defeat, or would he finish what he started? A voice from within urged him to carry on. Picking himself up, John stumbled along, continuing the marathon as if his life depended on it.
After the sun had set and after the medal ceremony, and after most of the crowds had gone home, John finally crossed the finish line. In fact, a camera crew was sent out to document the final phase of Johns race after receiving word that there was still a runner out there that was about to finish. As expected, John came in dead last with a finish time trailing the winner by over an hour. John lost, but he also won.
You see, rather than providing every excuse in the book and blaming this ferocious defeat on his seemingly unfair disadvantage, John made the history books for another reason.
When asked why he continued on, John replied,
“My country did not send me 5000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish it.”
There are so many reasons why I love this story, but perhaps the reason I love it most is that it is a testament of the human spirit and what we’re capable of when we want something bad enough. I’m sure if I googled it I could find out who actually won the marathon in the 1968 Olympic games, but if you ask me, the real winner is John Stephen Akwhari because he is a story of perseverance despite challenging circumstances.
Does it feel like you are running a marathon? Do you feel like you’ve trained, and practiced, and anticipated the first place win, but some unforeseen circumstance has brought you the ground in agony? Maybe it’s the perceived success of others that has you spinning in circles, or what you see of others on social media (i.e., your competitors who are jockeying to gain a position), maybe it’s other sales professionals in your store…
Maybe you hate your JOB because you don’t think you’re good enough at it, perhaps it’s the unrealistic expectations of your leads or the OEM or whoever… maybe it’s all in your head.
If you’re at a point where you’re not sure if you should concede to defeat or carry on, if that inner voice isn’t urging you to push through and move forward, I hope my voice can take its place.
Keep going! You’ve got this. You may not make the podium, but your legacy can make the history books for those who know you and for the positive impact you can have in their lives as well as your own. You are more powerful than you are giving yourself credit for.
Your ability to rise up and achieve what you’ve set out to accomplish is what really matters.
I love this quote by Confucius,
“Our glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
One of the reasons this podcast is called The Dealer Playbook is because of how deeply I believe having a playbook is necessary. There are so many things getting thrown at us day-in-and-day-out, many of which have extraordinary power sufficient to deter us from our path.
But what would happen if you accounted for those things? This is where we explore John’s story from the other side of the fence… I often wonder how things would have differed for John Akwhari if, in his playbook, they accounted for the altitude and pressure differences between Tanzania and Mexico City. Had they done so, perhaps they would have raised funds to send John and his coach to Mexico a month or two early so that he could train in that climate?
Well, John’s story is one that just keeps giving, because there is another quote that I love which I heard from a Gentlemen named John Bytheway. Yes, his last name is actually Bytheway… He said, “Wise people learn from experience. Super wise people learn from others experiences.”
The same goes for each of us. Whatever is happening in your life right now (within reason) in many instances is happening due to the compounding ripple effect of past choices. Each cause and effect has built up until voila, you’re experiencing the outcomes you’ve created. Most of which happened without forethought.
In today’s immediate gratification society, we are plagued by just jumping into whatever we do without much planning or preparation. We have all these ambitions and goals, many of which are falsely rooted in what we see others doing. All of the Gary Vee and Grant Cardone wannabes out there are a perfect example of this. Rather than taking the time to figure out what they genuinely want to achieve, they borrow the success and outcomes of someone else without understanding the entire context of that person’s life and what it took for them to get where they’re at. They think, Oh, all I gotta do is start a podcast or start a youtube channel or hang out on facebook 24/7… what they don’t see is the years of hard work, of falling to the ground and dislocating their knees, they don’t understand the unforeseen circumstances that each of the people they follow experienced and notably they don’t consider what achieving the outcome would look like in the context of their life.
And so, again from the flip side of the fence, I think there may be some unnecessary falling. Falling that may not have happened if those individuals had a playbook that accounted for such obstacles along their journey. I think what people like Grant and Gary are doing is a good thing if we understand what lense to look at it through and then have enough emotional intelligence and self-awareness to understand what it would take in the context of our circumstances.
My playbook is literally a notebook that I purchased from a dollar store. In it, I clearly define outcomes that I want to achieve spanning, as I said, my spirituality, family, career, community, etc. but just as important, I plan not only the moves I will need to make, I also take ample time to prepare the potential obstacles that may get in my way including how I will overcome them.
This process is pretty raw and pretty organic. It rarely happens in one sitting, instead, ideas and thoughts, and observations occur over time – day by day. Every time a new potential obstacle comes to mind, I write it down and then consider ways that I would overcome it.
I research… A LOT! Like to epic proportions. I learn I adapt, I evolve.
Am I perfect at this, heck no.
Am I immune to the feelings of inadequacy, doubt, and the fear that can accompany some of the things I discover and plan for? Yaaa NO…
Am I immune to the anxiety that accompanies ideas that are so crazy they’d force me out of my comfort zone… think again…
Accounting for it makes all the difference, though. Deciding how I will act beforehand makes the whole execution part a heck of a lot easier.
Like, hey Cirillo… this is probably going to make you uncomfortable, and that’s going to make you anxious, but here’s how you’ll overcome that…”
Even though John didn’t have “account for different altitude” in his playbook, we know from his failure response that he accounted for getting knocked down, and feelings of defeat, and the emotional rollercoaster of losing, and having to face his country folk with what could have been very embarrassing…
What kept John moving forward is that he knew his purpose. He knew what he was there to do. Without purpose, everything will always feel like it’s happening to you, not because of you.
The whole point of this podcast is to enrich and empower you to think bigger, live happier, and enjoy your time in the automotive industry. I want you to succeed, whatever that means to you. I believe you have what it takes, and with the right tools and resources, you can make incredible things happen for yourself, your family, and your community.
If you haven’t created your playbook yet, why not start today? If you’re feeling like a failure is final, I promise you it is not. If you’re struggling to figure out how to take things to the next level in your career so that you can provide a better lifestyle for your loved ones, and that just overwhelms you, I can promise you this: You have what it takes to succeed.
Create a playbook, keep it open, and dominate!