Redefining What Is Possible by Playing a Multiplayer Game

James Lawrence was an everyday man: husband, father, dreamer, but neither gifted nor talented. Lawrence’s defining moment of mediocrity was a Thanksgiving Day 4-mile run. James remembers huffing, puffing, and everything hurting — lungs, heart, legs, and arms. Even runners pushing strollers cruised past James.

While you would embrace the excuses, “The sneakers were too tight. It was too hot. There were too many hills.” Lawrence fought the impulses to embrace the excuses. He decided to take responsibility for his mediocrity and redefine what is possible.

James’ accomplishments are substantial:

  • The record for the most Ironman distance triathlons completed within a single calendar year: 50
  • The record for the most half-ironman distance triathlons in one year: 22
  • Completed 50 ironman-length triathlons in 50 consecutive days, one in each of the 50 US states

While James attributes his success to his family and friends, there is one person who is the linchpin to Lawrence’s accomplishments — his wife, Sunny Lawrence. Sunny notes in an interview with YoungLiving:

Almost immediately, he shared his idea with me to do 50 triathlons in all 50 states, in 50 days. James is a dreamer, always looking for the next adventure. It took me some time, but I realized how important it was to James and how much impact it could have on others.

Sunny continues:

There were some frustrating moments along the way, and sometimes I felt like the bad guy. James would be exhausted, almost delirious, and in pain. People around him were telling him he should rest. I kept him focused on his long-term goal. I would tell him, “Today is just a day; we have to keep on going.” I knew my role was to keep him focused on the end goal. He trusted me and knew I had his best interests at heart.

While you can make the argument that life is a single-player game, the equation does not add up when you are looking to accomplish huge goals. Why, because no one who ever did anything extraordinary did it by themselves. You are human and have a limited supply of why you must accomplish the goal. Your internal monologue then compromises the limited supply: “You are not good enough. It’s too hard. It hurts so stop. Take a break you deserve it.”

The internal monologue depletes your why exploiting the flaws of the single-player game.

The 50, 50, 50 was a huge goal: 50 iron-distance triathlon races in 50 days in 50 states. What does one iron-distance triathlon look like on paper:

  • 2.4-mile swim
  • 112-mile bike ride
  • 26.2-mile marathon run

Not so long ago James barely finished a four-mile run, so why does he think he is good enough to complete 50 iron-distance triathlon races? James is not afraid to redefine what is possible.

Sunny remembers that the last few months of training were difficult for James. She made it a point to surround James with an entire support system that would get him through the grueling days that led up to the 50, 50, 50. While that support system got James through the grueling days, it was the 10 to 2,000 people who joined Lawrence the last 5 kilometers of each marathon that rehydrated his why.

Everyone’s hard is different. What is easy for James is hard for you. What is evident is that you must open your mind to what is possible and ask yourself, “What are my passions? How can I evolve? What is next?” Place yourself in situations that force you to learn and grow. Hate the internal monologue. Use the pain of failure to make yourself mentally stronger.

Most importantly remember that it’s a multiplayer game.

Article Originally posted on Thrive Global.

The Revolution of the Next Step

You made it. Through the violence of the Big Bang. Through the random creation of planets. Through the development of the first organism. Through the millions of years of evolution, where you grew-up with your siblings in East Africa: Homo rudolfenis, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalenis, Homo denisova, Homo soloenis, and Homo floresiensis.

Regrettably, evolution was not kind to your siblings. The ecosystem would only support one subtribe of Human — you, the Homo sapien.

Why? Your siblings claim there is nothing extraordinary about you. They noted, “Sapien was an anxious and fearful child who enjoyed building things and cooking.” Their underestimation gave you the time to plot your ambitions:

  1. Leave East Africa
  2. Visit Arabia
  3. Visit Eurasia
  4. Take over the World

The author, Yuval Noah Harari, asks:

How did we manage to settle so rapidly in so many distant and ecologically different habitats? How did we push all other human species into oblivion? Why couldn’t even the strong, brainy, cold-proof Neanderthals survive our onslaught?

One standard answer is language. You had a unique language that allowed you to take over the world. My question is: “What is your next step? Will you continue the push into oblivion? Will you slow down to appreciate the risks of your new role?”

The Journey Is Not Planned

Society covets plans because they aim to create and maintain the social order. Author Chris Guillebeau has a label for the individuals who support the ideology: “the unremarkably average.” You might be unfamiliar with the term, but not with the principles:

  1. Accept what people tell you at face value
  2. Don’t question authority
  3. Go to college because you’re supposed to, not because you want to learn something
  4. Go overseas once or twice in your life, to somewhere safe like England
  5. Don’t try to learn another language; every- one else will eventually learn English
  6. Think about starting your own business, but never do it
  7. Think about writing a book, but never do it
  8. Get the largest mortgage you qualify for and spend 30 years paying for it
  9. Sit at a desk 40 hours a week for an average of 10 hours of productive work
  10. Don’t stand out or draw attention to yourself
  11. Jump through hoops and check off boxes

I am sure the list frighteningly familiar, but those ambitions are no longer in alignment with your goals. You feel the urge to break free from the social order and make an impact. Author Seth Godin defines this person as the “the linchpin:”

A linchpin is the essential element, the person who holds part of the operation together. Without the linchpin, the thing falls apart.

How do you become a linchpin? I can’t answer the question because the journey is yours. I can impart advice:

  • Read, and read-widely
  • Ask yourself, “What will people say about me at my funeral?”
  • Get around people that inspire you
  • Question everything you don’t understand

The plan is not the point, it’s something more powerful: your growth.