Lessons From Ironman

By Rudi Schiebel

One of the most potent memories I have from training for Ironman Canada back in 2012, was the phrase my cycling coach would shout whenever the ride started to get difficult:

"Don't stop when you're tired, stop when you're done."

I didn't know it at the time but it was a lesson about what it really takes to succeed. During this lesson you go places where every part of your body hurts and your mind screams at you to stop. You learn whether or not you have the desire to do what it takes to suck-it-up and achieve something. Nobody wins without some sort of sacrifice, which is something I now understand applies to every aspect of life.

Before Ironman, I was the king of big dreams, but only exerted effort when it suited me. I would, so to speak, ride the rollercoaster during the highs and bail on the first low. I believe this was the main reason I never achieved the goals I had set for myself as a junior hockey player and why my first business out of high school failed within the first year.

In hindsight I can see that my misfortunes were my own doing, a realization that only hit me when a close friend and mentor sat me down to outline it. After this meeting, I went from a washed up hockey player and failed businessman to a wannabe Ironman. It was another grand dream, but this time I was determined to do whatever it took to prove that my commitment was more than just weak words.

Fast-forward one year, and I can proudly say that I finished the Ironman in eleven and a half hours. Fast-forward two more years and the Ironman isn't even a big deal anymore. What is a big deal is everything that has happened since crossing that finish line. The lessons I experienced have given me the fortitude to start my own bison ranch. I have survived the sleepless nights of being a full time university student and an entrepreneur. And now, I have accepted the daunting task of exporting our bison meat to China.

To me, commitment is the biggest ingredient for success. I am not saying that you need to run an Ironman to learn about success, but the experience certainly taught me how to bear down when the road gets hard. It showed me that perseverance is required to realize your own dreams, and if you don't, you'll end up working to build someone else's.