Learning from others who have succeeded is a powerful strategy to achieve success in our own life. Success leaves clues, and these clues point us in the right direction to achieve our own goals.
Inspire Fitness members were recently honoured to have Paul Hoffman, an English Channel swimmer, presenting his amazing story of perseverance and overcoming obstacles. Paul spoke about his journey towards conquering the English Channel in 2014: an ultimate display of physical and mental strength.
Here is a summary of a few key messages from Paul’s presentation to help you achieve your own health and fitness goals. These three powerful lessons are clues to success in your life, too!
Never underestimate the impact you and your achievements can have on others.
When Paul was a 14 year old boy growing up in South Africa, he decided he wanted to become a lifeguard, despite not having any formal swimming training. Paul failed his first attempt at becoming a lifeguard because he couldn’t complete the 800-m qualifying swim in the allotted time. His assessor took him aside and spent a few minutes giving Paul a valuable lesson to help him pass the 800-m swim on his next attempt. Paul passed his lifeguard test on his second attempt, and sought out his assessor to thank him for his help. After doing so, his assessor began talking about a life goal he had but never completed, an epic swim on the other side of the world: the English Channel swim. The two parted ways, never to see each other again.
The impact of a few minutes of help and discussion from his assessor didn’t just qualify Paul to be a lifeguard, but ignited the dream within Paul that ultimately led him to pursue and conquer one of the biggest swimming events an individual can ever conquer.
“It doesn’t matter if you try and try and try again, and fail. It does matter if you try and fail, and fail to try again.”
Paul failed on his first attempt in 2012 to swim the English Channel. He had spent four years preparing his body for this massive challenge, only to be pulled out of the water after 7 hours of swimming due to being physically sick and delusional. He left England feeling depressed and dejected; he felt he had let down his family and friends who had supported him.
After this failed attempt, Paul stumbled across an article which quoted the former General Motors boss, Charles F. Kettering. He then realised:
An attempt only becomes a failure when you stop trying.
Like all of us in different facets of life, Paul questioned himself after not succeeding. However the inspiration of this quote and a reaffirmation of his childhood goal would prove too strong to ignore, and there was no room to be bogged down with negativity.
His Individual goal was achieved because of the efforts of the team around him.
Paul admitted that he is very organised and liked to be in control of everything, from the logistics of his trip, to the carbohydrate content of his liquid meals. In 2012, he planned everything right down to following a laminated running sheet. After the first unsuccessful attempt, however, Paul realised that no amount of self-organisation and control would ensure success. Instead, he had to rely on his team to offer their complete support to achieve his goal. This included the Captain of the ship that would direct him on the right path to avoid the ever-changing currents, the sports medicine professionals who helped with many muscle and joint issues, his training partners who helped him with his in-swim feeds, and his friends and family for all the understanding and support over the years it took to prepare for the event.
Paul realised he simply could not achieve his lifelong goal without them.
Learning from those who have succeeded is a powerful strategy for improving your own results. Many athletes who have succeeded have failed at least once in previous attempts to achieve their goals.
Watch Paul’s story in the following video: