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Episode 058: Jeff Symonds -- Professional triathlete
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What we cover: “A diamond is a lump of coal that did well under pressure." – Henry Kissinger
This week’s Guest Titan is flipping amazing. I have loved him from afar for many years now – not like as a stalker, dressed as a plant, hiding in a corner. But just that feeling of tremendous respect you get when you know you are around someone who is truly great. Some one who personifies all that you admire in the best of humanity – he is devoid of pretension, he is the definition of hard work, he is the embodiment of his life philosophy: “Get ugly.” But professional triathlete Jeff Symonds is anything but physically ugly – his kind of ugly is the ugly that happens when you leave it all on the line. When you let the sweat and the grime and guts of pursuit ooze from wherever it is that sweat and grime and guts ooze as you stare-down the finish line. That’s the kind of single-focused, push through the pain and discomfort of “ugly” we talk about it. It’s that kind of ugly that garnered him a 3rd place finish at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, followed by a 1st place finish at the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships in Melbourne.
However, like all of my best chats, this is a conversation that is universal in its nature – meaning, you don’t have to be a triathlete to “get it”. It doesn’t mater what our figurative finish line looks like, we can all glean from Jeff the inspiration required to dig a little deeper and get a little uglier when we’re face to face with adversity.
Jeff is so totally likeable, and he has a gift for story telling and for taking us right inside from within the perspective of a champion – what it feels like, in real time, to be out on the course, picking off our worthy opponents one by one— to sit with him as I did, and as you are about it, is a unique joy. I love this guy.
Jeff had a lot of great insights, and he tells one story at the end of our time together, about a time when he got particularly ugly – when he endured a bike crash, going 60km/hour, during a really important race, and how he handled the physical agony and what ultimately made him decide whether or not he would get back on his bike and resume the quest for the win, despite being horribly injured. I’ve saved it – the last 20 minutes of our time together – for a Part Two Mini-Episode, slotted for next time. Because it’s a nail-biter, and it works really well as a stand-alone. So, the good news is, you’ll get a dose – albeit a shorter dose -- of Jeff’s ugliness in Episode #59.
The reason I started this series, is so that my two daughters, Majella (who we call JouJou) and Burgess (who we call Birdie) will have an inventory of inspiring conversations with paradigm-busters to draw upon for those times in their lives when they feel stuck. Each conversations give me the gift of at least one perspective shift – a new way of looking at the situation. And I want to thank Jeff for reminding me that when you want something badly enough, it’s up to us to do whatever it takes to dig deep and to let ourselves get ugly for it. Thank you for that, Jeff.