Determination: 5 Thoughts to Keep You Going

The race for success is a long one.  Despite your zen-link aptitude at turning lemons into lemonade, life has a strange way of beating you down and stealing your dream.

It takes determination (and a lot of it) to keep moving forward in spite of the obstacles.  Your legs get tired.  You get thirsty.  Every fiber of your being wants to just throw in the towel and call it quits.  And yet your best chance at success (at winning the race) is in hanging on.  In your determination to keep going.

Guys like Cliff Young show us how it's done.

Albert Ernest Clifford Young died a few years ago in late 2003 at the age of 81.  Twenty years earlier (at a spry 61 years of age) the Australian potato farmer accomplished the impossible.  He beat all the other runners at the Melbourne Ultra Marathon.

The race started in Sydney and ended 875 kilometers (544 miles) away in Melbourne.  At the starting line, surrounded by elite athletes from all over the world, Cliff showed up at the starting line in gumboots and a pair of soiled overalls.  He was more than forty years older than several of his competitors.

While the others runners began executing their racing strategies, Cliff shuffled along at a slow, awkward pace.  He quickly fell to the back of the pack of runners where he remained for some time.  And then something amazing happened.  Cliff just kept running.

While the other runners stopped to sleep, Cliff shuffled along.  Five days, fifteen  hours, and four minutes later, he crossed the finish line.  He had broken the record by almost two full days.  It wasn't even close.

He refused to let fatigue, age, or lack of proper gear get in the way of his will to win.

So let's talk about how that works.

The odds are rough.

If your entire life is practice and preparation for you being successful, then you spend most of your time working towards something that you might never get to realize until the very end.

It's the ultimate in deferred gratification.  Which is hard for most of us.

How long do you keep trying after you stop enjoying what you're doing?  The odds indicate that most of us will stop before we win the race.

According to, the average age of a successful entrepreneur is 42.  Yes.  It's just a number.  It's random.  It probably doesn't apply to you, except that it probably made a thought run through your mind right now.

"How many more years do I have before I get to the finish line?"

I'm 31 right now.

At my age French Egyptologist Jean Francois Champollion deciphered the Rosetta stone, British physician Thomas Wedgwood produced the first photograph, and Gregory Pincus achieved in-vitro fertilization of rabbits.  Mind-blowing feats of genius.

But the odds indicate that I probably have a decade of mind-blowing effort ahead of me before I do something amazing.  I have another ten years of waking up each morning and going the distance.

So, if that's the case -- that you have to go the distance -- it's important to get serious about the race.

The race is tough.

  1. Stop thinking like it's a sprint.  Prepare for the long haul. -- Stay in shape mentally, physically, and financially.  It's not about "getting rich quick" schemes or selfishly thinking only of yourself.  Invest in your dream by thinking about the long effects of your activities.  If it won't stand the test of time, don't do it.
  2. You can recover from a few falls along the way.  Don't get discouraged by failure. -- You can't run and win the race at the same time.   It doesn't make sense.  You have to put in the effort to get back up from a few tumbles.  You will get banged up.   That's what happens.  But you have to decide that the more you fall, the faster you get back up.  No matter the damage, you will survive.  Even from the bad stuff.
  3. The finish line is hidden until you almost pass it.  Keep pushing forward without a guarantee about when you can stop. -- Stop planning on getting a break any time soon.  It's not worth what you'll give up when you do actually get to the finish line.  Maybe you do get back in the race.  Maybe you only give up temporarily.  But maybe you don't. Maybe you become like everybody else around you who asks themselves, "What if?"...  The key to being determined is not expecting to ever "catch a break".
  4. Which next step isn't as important as you taking one.  A long race is just a series of smaller steps. -- Just do something.  It's not about not making a bad decision.  You can't avoid getting it wrong sometimes.  You're human.  You let emotion, passion, and will sway your ability to think like a computer.  That's a good thing.  Your illogic allows you to keep going long after it makes sense.
  5. Everyone who's in the race with you is just as tired as you are.  The difference is your ability to fight through the pain long after it stops being "fun". -- If you're still in the race right now, take a look around.  Those people around you are just as tired as you are.  The pain you are feeling is the same pain that they have.  It's no easier for any one else. It's not harder for you.  It's all about knowing you're hurting and deciding that you want success more than you want to avoid the pain.

There's not a lot to remember.

It's one foot in front of the other.  You run as long as you can run.  Then you walk until you can no longer walk.  And then you crawl -- pulling yourself by your finger tips until your knuckles cramp up.

But you don't stop moving toward success.

You stay in the race and on your feet.  Because the dream is something worth fighting for.

For me that's likely another:

  • 3,650 days of peak performance,
  • 87,600 hours of excellence,
  • 5,256,000 minutes of breaking down barriers,
  • 315,569,260 seconds to use "with purpose".

I guess it's time to get going.

Are you with me?