Diggin’ Dean

Posted on October 13, 2011


Dean Karnazes is a legend in the ultra running world and when you listen to him talk or read his words in print, you can’t fail to feel enthused and inspired by his passion and dedication to the sport. He has committed super-human feats that have made him a household name in countless countries and his books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages. In short, he ROCKS.

What drives a person to constantly push his physical and mental limits?

Dean says,

“It’s a sense of exploration. How far can the human body go? What is the limit of human endurance and human potential? And that’s just kind of my thing, you know? I don’t endeavor to be an intellect or anything else beside endurance sports and it’s what I love and who I am, so I just push it to the limit.”

Dean hasn’t found his limits – not yet, anyway. Sure, there have been setbacks but he just looks at them as learning opportunities.

“I think that we’re so programmed to avoid failure and to fear failure, and you know – I welcome failure. I say, unless you have failed, you’re not trying hard enough! I’ve learned more from my failures than my successes so I encourage people to embrace failure as a learning experience.”

Indeed the first time Dean took on Badwater, a 135-mile footrace across Death Valley in California, in temps that rival Dubai’s on a hot summers day, he didn’t finish. After several hours on the course vomiting, cramping, and hallucinating, he eventually woke up in a hotel room having passed out somewhere and being picked up by his support crew.

True to his word, Karnazes took his initial failure at Badwater as a learning experience. He tackled the race again in 2000 and finished, and has since completed the race seven times and won it in 2004.

I listened to an interview with him the other day about his initial Badwater attempt. And I’ve continued to think about the content, long after his final words were spoken and the interview drew to a close.

I’ve decided that failure only comes in two forms.  Not giving 100% and not learning a lesson.  There really is no other type.

So the next time you don’t finish a race, in fact even if you don’t end up starting … or if you find yourself runner-up for a new job role or losing out on a promotion, don’t think for a second it is failure. Provided you gave it your best shot and provided you reflect and review on what you might do differently next time, then you’ve succeeded. You’ve succeeded which means you’re a success … which also means you’re a winner … and winners never fail.

Survive, Thrive and Fly.

Three words in increasing order of preference.

Imprint them on your mind and fly as high as your imagination will let you.

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