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29 May 2014 No Comment

Not every decision a leader makes is going to be popular, in fact most decisions have the ability to annoy someone in the group. Leaders are not meant to be loved, but they are to be respected. It’s a lonely life for a leader who longs to be loved by everyone. A good leader should be prepared to do whatever he asks someone else to do.

Leadership starts from the front. There has to be a heartfelt responsibility to set an example, to establish a way of doing things, an attitude in the group.  We see many examples of great leaders who inspire those in their group with their attitude. Our own mate George Hulse is such a man. A retired army officer, a natural leader, a man who inspires others around him with his commitment and toughness. He may finish many of his workouts long after everyone else is finished, but he’s still a respected leader.

George was struck by a car two weeks before the Hawaii Ironman, but did everything in his power to get to the start line. Then competed with three fractured ribs and a bruised spleen, swimming 3.8km single arm and riding the 180km bike in the saddle because it was too painful to stand out of the saddle. Then to run/jog/walk the marathon holding on to finish in the top five in the world, when most seventy year old’s in the world are growing roses and walking the dog for exercise.

George wasn’t setting out to show leadership, he wasn’t trying to impress, he was just doing what he does. It was unconscious  leadership. He was showing the way without thinking about it. His example inspired every member of the squad.

In around 2008 I had a bike accident and injured my hip. I couldn’t run without a limp for 22 weeks, so I didn’t run. I don’t need to practice a limp, besides if you’re limping, you’re probably doing more damage. Eight weeks after the accident I was about to start the Hell of the West triathlon in Goondiwindi, I had a record of fifteen consecutive age group wins to defend. I could only run twenty minutes on the treadmill until the pain caused me to stop. I started the race with the plan of going hard from the gun, to gain as much lead as possible and survive the run as well as I could. I held on to win my category again and preserve my record.

I didn’t do that race for anyone else, I did what I did for my own reasons, but as a result I have been able to go on and record twenty-one consecutive wins in the one race. If anyone else wants to stand on the stage in Hawaii like George or have twenty-one consecutive wins in the same race, they have to do what George and I do. The fact that we have done these things, sets an example. That’s how things are done around her.

There are a lot of athletes out there who would like to win an age group, or would like to qualify for Hawaii one day. They often don’t do what the guys who do achieve these things do. One of the guys in our squad trained harder than anyone else in the squad, his goal was Hawaii qualification. He got off the bike in Port Macquarie in 2013 with a Hawaii spot in his hands, and sadly watched it slip away as the run progressed. He still raced a respectable time, but he walked away a disappointed man.

After his recovery period he committed himself to getting everything right in 2014. We worked out a few things that were holding him back. Little things, refinements in the plan. He did whatever I asked him. Even to the point of training for a whole month with no gadgets, no HRM, no GPS, no power meter, it drove him mad. He loves that stuff. Along the way I gave him tests that no-one else had on their plan. He stood at the start line in 2014 knowing he’d done everything.

He won his category by six minutes, he didn’t knock on the door and ask for a Hawaii spot. He kicked the door down and took it. He didn’t set out to be a leader, he was doing it for himself. But as a result of his dedication and commitment, he inspired the whole group. We were all overjoyed for him and the success he had earned.

Another of our athletes has trained in the squad for five years, in that time he’s taken more than an hour off his Ironman swim time, and taken over five hours off his overall Ironman time. His perseverance has touched all those around him. To spend time with him is inspiring, his journey continues.

There are a lot of athletes in our sport who can do so much more to improve, I see it every day. They often find reasons why they can’t do what some of our achievers are prepared to do. If you can find a reason why not to do what the winners do, you may as well apply grease to the pole you’re trying to climb.

Leaders are all around us, they may not be at the front yet, but they’re on their way. Winners start from the same place the losers start from, they just don’t find the reasons to take their foot off the accelerator.






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