Running a business isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Are you giving it all you’ve got? In this edition of Tough Things First, guest host Rob Artigo asks Ray Zinn about what it takes to reach the last mile in your race.
Rob Artigo: I’m Rob Artigo, your guest host for this edition of Tough Things First. Hi, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Hello, Rob, so good to have you back with me today.
Rob Artigo: It’s good to be back with you, Ray. You’re a guy with a reputation of giving it all you’ve got. That’s, most people who know you, think of you as that kind of person, but you didn’t invent that expression.
Ray Zinn: No, I did not.
Rob Artigo: You have a great example of where this might have come from, where this expression might have come from.
Ray Zinn: Where I got this was thinking of the fabled story regarding the marathon. The marathon, as those of you know that’s run in various parts of the world on a regular basis, is 26.2 miles, roughly. That’s the exact distance from a city in Greece, it’s called Marathon, to Athens. The distance is 26.2 miles. In 490 BC, there was this Greek solider, who was asked to report the results of the victory of the Greeks over the Persians. He was told to deliver this message to the higher-ups in Athens, so he ran non-stop from Marathon to Athens to deliver this message of victory to the higher-ups.
As he entered the city, he collapsed and died. He delivered the message, then he collapsed and died. They celebrate that event by what we call running the marathon. That’s where I came up with this concept of giving it all you’ve got because, certainly, he gave it all he had. They say that the chicken gives up an egg regularly, but still doesn’t lose its life, whereas a pig, he gives up his life for the bacon that we eat. That’s giving it all you’ve got.
There are many examples of that, where people literally give up their lives to succeed. That’s kind of what it takes. Maybe you don’t die, but you give up your life, meaning you suffer some of the personal things that you’d like to do, whether it be some hobby or some other form of relief, vacations and what not, to help your business succeed. Giving it all you’ve got is really extremely important.
In fact, the story is told in Jimmy Carter’s book, when he was at Annapolis, and upon graduation, of course, they’re all interviewed by Admiral Rickover, who is well known at Annapolis. He went in for his interview with Admiral Rickover and Rickover asked President Carter how he thought he did, said, “Ensign Carter, how do you think you did while you were in Annapolis?” Ensign Carter says, “Well, I think I did pretty good.” Admiral Rickover got right in his face, an inch from his nose, and said, “If not your best, why not?” Carter never forgot about that.
Giving it your all or doing your very, very best, is what it takes to succeed, not only in business, but in life. Those of you or us who want to be the very best, we have to give it the very best. Sometimes our best is not even good enough, but we have to try. That’s what we mean by giving it all we’ve got, not just giving it some of what we have.
Rob Artigo: I recently was watching a little bit on the Tour de France, obviously, in France. It’s the big bike race that is 21 stages, lasts most of the month of July. One of the things that fans tend to appreciate about the bike race is the fact that you might have people who aren’t necessarily winning, but you see them trying their hardest. Maybe they’re overcoming an illness and the fans are aware that there’s an illness going on, that they’re probably not going to finish the race that day, let alone make it to the end and make it to Paris. You see them there trying really hard and giving it all they’ve got. That’s another sporting example, of course, but the analogy is there to our everyday lives, which is when you have to put out that extra effort to achieve the goal and overcome adversity, that’s where you’re really giving the best you’ve got.
Ray Zinn: This is when I say winning is not necessarily taking first place. Winning is doing your best. Winning is giving it your all, whether you’re getting first place or you’re winning a tournament, is not important. Winning is overcoming your personal difficulties and adversities and succeeding. That’s what winning is. We shouldn’t always look at winning as taking first place. You can be a handicapped person or having some other ailment or difficulty, and still give it your all. This is the hallmark, I think, of a real winner, is someone who beats the odds, who, regardless of the difficulties, the challenges they face, they come out on top.
Rob Artigo: As always, you can reach out to Ray Zinn with your questions at toughthingsfirst.com, continue your education and, of course, the conversation with all the podcasts, Ray’s blogs and links to information about the book, Tough Things First. Also Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Thanks, Ray.
Ray Zinn: Thank you, Rob. It’s been great to be with you today.