Lessons from the back of the pack

Had you been standing next to me the morning of July 26th, 2008, you would have been standing on the shore of North Carolina’s Lake Cammack watching the sunrise. Had you been standing next to me on July 26th, 2008, you would have found yourself surrounded by 500 people preparing to compete in the Mission Man Triathlon, and had you listened closely on that thick morning in July you may have heard me whisper and possibly whimper quietly to myself… “What in the heck have I gotten myself into?”

For almost ten years, I have been an avid practitioner of Mixed Martial Arts. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muy Thai Kickboxing… I love it all, but now that I see 40 on the not too distant horizon, I have realized two things about the sport I love. 1. The guys are getting younger, stronger, and faster, and 2. I am too old to be getting hit and/or kicked in the face… I needed a new sport. One afternoon my brother and I were having a conversation when I told him that I was looking for a new challenge. I wanted a sport a little on the extreme side but with minimal chance of bodily harm. I wanted to reduce the risk of getting hit and/or kicked in the face. He said why not compete in a triathlon? At 6’4, 225 pounds, I have never considered myself the “triathlon type”, but he then uttered the words that sent me on my way to becoming a tried and true, full fledged triathlete….He said ”I dare you”. “you dare me?” “you daRE ME??!!?? ..don’t dare me Bubba, I’ll do it. When is it?” He said “there’s one in three weeks”……… “DONE” !!!!

For the next three weeks I trained like a mad man. I ran every day. I swam every day and I borrowed a bike that I rode everyday. When the morning of the triathlon arrived, I was up before the sun. I packed my gear and headed out to the race site. At the starting point, I stood in thigh deep water with my bright blue swim cap holding in my slightly graying hair. My spandex biker shorts and under-armour top were struggling against my slightly expanding mid-section. I looked like a super hero five years past his prime. When the horn sounded we took off like a school of grunion. I was paddling as fast and furious as my arms would allow. Fifty yards into the swim I began to tire. 60 yards into the swim, my freestyle turned into a breast-stroke, and by the time I reached the first buoy, was doggy paddling. When you doggy paddle your way through a triathlon you become the unwilling provider of piggyback rides for anyone who happens to have started behind you. Half way through the swim as I was being passed by the competitors wearing pink swim caps, (women over 40), I made eye contact with a grandmotherly woman who could not have been day under 65. In a cosmic moment of irony and humiliation, she overtook me, passed me by, and then KICKED me right in the face.


My friend and fellow speaker Bill Bachrach is a real triathlete. Bill is a Hawaiian Iron Man, which means he completed a 2.5 mile swim, 116 mile bike ride and a marathon. I asked Bill “what does it take to become an Iron Man?” I expected him to tell me of above average athleticism, superhuman strength and endurance, but instead, he told me that it all came down to commitment. Do you have the time, patience and discipline to focus your efforts on the process of training to become great? He said the roadmap to becoming an Iron man is finite, measurable and tested. All it takes from you is a commitment to work the process.

What is your commitment to the process of becoming an Iron Sales Man? Are you working a process or slinging it up against the wall hoping something sticks. Martial Arts legend Gene Lebel said “the harder you train the luckier you get”. The same is true for sales.

Here are three simple tips to incorporate into your sales workout:

  1.   WAKE UP EARLY.  By the time your competition’s feet hit the floor in the morning, you should be on step three of your daily to do list. “The early bird gets the worm”…I love worm..tastes like chicken. 

2. READ TWENTY MINUTES OF POSITIVE MATERIAL DAILY. Before you logon to Fox News, CNN, or enter the blogosphere and get the latest dose of negative headlines, start with twenty minutes of uplifting material. It is like waking up and chugging a glass of water. (ever done it ?…you’ll feel amazing

         3. PRACTICE . Having trouble on the phone? Practice with a mirror on your desk or the camera on your computer…smile and create friendly facial expressions and it will come through in your voice. Create scripts and practice them until you don’t sound rehearsed. Roll play with friends or co-workers until walking into a brand new office feels exciting.

Patrick Henry is a songwriter, author, and speaker, who shows clients how to create distinction in the market place and blow away the competition with the four keys to becoming a “ROCKSTAR IN A ROOM FULL OF KARAOKE SINGERS”. Patrick’s entertaining programs show audiences what happens when Keynotes, Comedy, and Concerts Collide. For more information go to www.patrickhenryspeaker.com

1 Comment

  1. brigidday on January 13, 2010 at 4:07 am

    Who logs onto FoxNews? Oh, wait. Nevermind.

    I can hear your voice so clearly in your writing. Nice job, Patrick.

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