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Nothing is Impossible

Sometimes not knowing you can’t is the best thing for you.

How many times have we been told we can’t do this or that? How many times have stopped only because we’ve been told it’s not possible? How many opportunities have we missed because we didn’t think we could do it? We’ll today I’m going to share with you the story of Cliff Young and the power of ignoring the “it’s not possible” advice.

In 1983 Cliff Young showed up to run a 543.7-mile (875-kilometer) endurance race from Sydney to Melbourne in Australia that takes place over 5 days. Being such a grueling race, you’ll generally only find world class athletes competing in it. But not in 1983. Cliff, then 61 years old, initially showed up for the race in overalls and boots to compete.

As you can imagine Cliff gathered a lot of attention before the race started. Most of it pretty negative. They told him, “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.” To which he replied, “Yes I can.” and continued to give an explanation of why when he was younger he would run for 2-3 days at a time and round up as many as 2000 sheep over 2000 acres.

Still no one believed him. He did get attention because, well, you have to admit, it sounds like lunacy. How could this 61 year old man initially dressed in overalls and boots run a 5 day grueling race against world class athletes?

And then the race began. As you’d expect, the athletes quickly left Cliff in the dust. Not only that, but he didn’t exactly have the best running form. There was even some fear going around that he would hurt himself. But on the race went.

Now, before we go on, the common strategy for running this race by the world class athletes is to run 18 hours a day and sleep 6 hours at night. This way they can stay alert and keep running.

Not so for our friend Cliff. When he said he use to round up sheep for 2-3 days, he meant 2-3 days straight. Straight through the day and night that is. So instead of sleeping like the world class athletes, Cliff did the impossible. He ran through the night. He never really stopped (except to eat and some other basic necessities). He just kept going. He believed it was possible even though everyone else told him it was impossible.

Of course Cliff didn’t run as fast as the world class athletes, but he ran 24 hours a day for 5 days. If you do the math, running an extra 6 hours a day over 5 days adds up to a lot of time. It adds up to an additional 30 hours of running. And this gave Cliff a big advantage.

Not only did he finish the race, he won it!! And not by a slim margin. He broke the course record by 9 hours! Yes a full 9 hours. He crushed his competition.

So if someone tells you it’s not possible, just think of our friend Cliff before you resign yourself and give up. Think: What would Cliff do?

Like this article?


  •     Daily Digest for 2008-12-09 | andrew . tj . id . au
    · December 9th, 2008  · 8:15 pm  · Permalink

    […] Shared a link on Google Reader. Stephane Grenier (LandlordMax): Nothing is Impossible […]

  •     Scott Kane
    · December 10th, 2008  · 8:32 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph,

    As you know I live and grew up in Melbourne so I remember Cliff Young very well indeed. It’s funny you should mention him as I’ve always been inspired by him. Most people around me, as your post indicates, were critical of him and disparaging (sadly even after he ran and won). Excellent example to use – I could elaborate, but won’t here at this time, but his determination and success was an example I used when I was told I would never be well or work again. Most people in my position do not. The few that get back into “life” have to be a bit like Cliff.

    Thanks Cliff!

    For the record the rules changed on the marathon and you can’t do what cliff did anymore in that race…

  •     Steph
    · December 10th, 2008  · 11:14 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Scott,

    It’s great to hear that Cliff inspired others like me! Although I suspect my story is nowhere near as challenging as yours, Cliff is definitely an inspiration!

    And thanks for letting me know about the rule changes. I had no idea. It’s too bad they changed them.

  •     David A. Shaver
    · December 13th, 2008  · 11:14 am  · Permalink

    Steph I am here because I just finished reading your book Blog Blazers a great book full of revealing facts. Unlike a lot of bloggers I read quite a bit. I just put a good review for you on Amazon.com where I got it. Coincidentally my blog is about running so I will probably link back to this post. I wish I could say it will be like Digg or Stumble but you will probably not even notice it.

  •     Steph
    · December 14th, 2008  · 11:00 pm  · Permalink

    Hi David,

    It’s great to hear you really liked Blog Blazers. I just saw your comment on Amazon, thank you!

    And thank you for offering to link from your blog. I’m sure it won’t be long until a post from you is like from Digg or Stumble. You’ve only just begun, I see more of your posts are pretty recent, just a few months. You’ll be amazed how fast it comes if you keep at it.

  •     Karl Staib - Work Happy Now
    · December 17th, 2008  · 5:24 pm  · Permalink

    I think we’ve all felt like Cliff. No one gave us a shot. He believed he could do it and won. That’s the most important part to success – Believe you can do it.

    I’ve lacked confidence in myself, but the harder I try the stronger I get. People tell me that I’m crazy for trying to launch a public speaking career from my blog. I will prove them wrong. I promise you that I will be speaking to companies of all sizes in less than a year.

  •     Nadine M. Rosin
    · December 18th, 2008  · 3:27 am  · Permalink

    Thanks for a great post…and of course, the inspiration came at the perfect time 🙂

  •     Steph
    · December 18th, 2008  · 11:05 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Karl,

    Absolutely! And I wish you the best of luck with your public speaking career. You can do it!

  •     Steph
    · December 18th, 2008  · 11:06 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Nadine,

    You’re welcome. I’m glad it was able to inspire you. I know Cliff sure inspired me.

  •     Phil Essam
    · December 21st, 2008  · 6:05 am  · Permalink

    Thanks for the Great article.

    This link will share a bit more about Cliffy’s life. There is a lot more newspaper clippings to go on it yet.




  •     Wendy
    · December 22nd, 2008  · 1:52 pm  · Permalink

    I was raised by a very determined single mom. Her philosophy was “nothing is impossible”, it was the way we lived. She never really explained it to me, it was just understood in our household. The only time I ever heard her refer to it out loud was once I overhead her side of a conversation in which she said, “Don’t tell ME what I CAN and CAN’T do. Don’t try to limit my beliefs.”

    As kids whenever we said we wanted to do something she was always enthusiastic and would encourage us no matter how weird or crazy. Some things worked, some things didn’t, but we always learned from the adventures.

    I feel SO SO SO blessed that she raised me the way she did because all my life it never occurred to me to have doubts. It was never about “can I do this” but always about “HOW can I do this”. It’s a fabulous gift she has given me.

  •     Steph
    · December 26th, 2008  · 11:10 am  · Permalink

    Hi Phil,

    Thank you for the additional information. The link you gave definitely has some good follow-up information.

  •     Steph
    · December 26th, 2008  · 11:11 am  · Permalink

    Hi Wendy,

    Great philosophy!!! Kudos to your mom! She didn’t focus on the CAN but rather the HOW. If only everyone could be like that.

  •     RFW
    · December 29th, 2008  · 5:40 pm  · Permalink

    Wow, THANKS!

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