James Lawrence was an everyday man: husband, father, dreamer, but neither gifted nor talented. Lawrence’s defining moment of mediocrity was a Thanksgiving Day 4-mile run. James remembers huffing, puffing, and everything hurting — lungs, heart, legs, and arms. Even runners pushing strollers cruised past James.

While you would embrace the excuses, “The sneakers were too tight. It was too hot. There were too many hills.” Lawrence fought the impulses to embrace the excuses. He decided to take responsibility for his mediocrity and redefine what is possible.

James’ accomplishments are substantial:

  • The record for the most Ironman distance triathlons completed within a single calendar year: 50
  • The record for the most half-ironman distance triathlons in one year: 22
  • Completed 50 ironman-length triathlons in 50 consecutive days, one in each of the 50 US states

While James attributes his success to his family and friends, there is one person who is the linchpin to Lawrence’s accomplishments — his wife, Sunny Lawrence. Sunny notes in an interview with YoungLiving:

Almost immediately, he shared his idea with me to do 50 triathlons in all 50 states, in 50 days. James is a dreamer, always looking for the next adventure. It took me some time, but I realized how important it was to James and how much impact it could have on others.

Sunny continues:

There were some frustrating moments along the way, and sometimes I felt like the bad guy. James would be exhausted, almost delirious, and in pain. People around him were telling him he should rest. I kept him focused on his long-term goal. I would tell him, “Today is just a day; we have to keep on going.” I knew my role was to keep him focused on the end goal. He trusted me and knew I had his best interests at heart.

While you can make the argument that life is a single-player game, the equation does not add up when you are looking to accomplish huge goals. Why, because no one who ever did anything extraordinary did it by themselves. You are human and have a limited supply of why you must accomplish the goal. Your internal monologue then compromises the limited supply: “You are not good enough. It’s too hard. It hurts so stop. Take a break you deserve it.”

The internal monologue depletes your why exploiting the flaws of the single-player game.

The 50, 50, 50 was a huge goal: 50 iron-distance triathlon races in 50 days in 50 states. What does one iron-distance triathlon look like on paper:

  • 2.4-mile swim
  • 112-mile bike ride
  • 26.2-mile marathon run

Not so long ago James barely finished a four-mile run, so why does he think he is good enough to complete 50 iron-distance triathlon races? James is not afraid to redefine what is possible.

Sunny remembers that the last few months of training were difficult for James. She made it a point to surround James with an entire support system that would get him through the grueling days that led up to the 50, 50, 50. While that support system got James through the grueling days, it was the 10 to 2,000 people who joined Lawrence the last 5 kilometers of each marathon that rehydrated his why.

Everyone’s hard is different. What is easy for James is hard for you. What is evident is that you must open your mind to what is possible and ask yourself, “What are my passions? How can I evolve? What is next?” Place yourself in situations that force you to learn and grow. Hate the internal monologue. Use the pain of failure to make yourself mentally stronger.

Most importantly remember that it’s a multiplayer game.