It was gripping as it was inspiring. On all fours and her chin she crawled to win. Deep inside her, she knew she had to finish. Why? She had conditioned her mind to fight to the end. Quitting was not an option.

As 29-year-old Hyvon Ng’etich pushed through the pain barrier, I was in tears. The determination written on her face was beyond description. Yet she crawled herself to a third position finish! Her courage and determination won the hearts of many. The Austin Marathon race director even adjusted her prize money to reflect a second-place finish.

We are all faced with different marathons in life. Career, family, business, education… the list is endless. We may struggle away and then hit a wall. Our situation may seem bleak or untenable. Self-doubt kicks in and we are ready to throw in the towel and sacrifice our win.

And this was the case as I faced months of many spins, twists and turns. It has been a grueling time designing content for Leadership Safari, my first online course. Doubt, fatigue and writer’s block hit me, sometimes all three at the same time.

Hyvon’s story came at just the right time. And we all can draw three leadership lessons from it.

1. Your mindset is everything

Just because you are there doesn’t mean you have to remain as-is. Mindset is your established set of attitudes towards life people and situations. It is your philosophy of life. Your mindset is what provides you with the incentive to adopt or accept prior behaviors choices or tools.

Evidently Hyvon had prepared for the marathon. She was leading by a clear 500 meters before her physical body crashed. But her mindset was to win! Her attitude to race to the finish propelled her body to go way beyond its limitations.

“In running, always you have to keep going, going…” ~Hyvon Ngetich

2. Never doubt your possibility

Approach life with a can-do attitude Possibility helps unveil your ability to do something. Knowing that something could happen gives us optimism. And that affects how we tap into out potential. It also provides us an avenue to inspire others who can bridge our inability, weaknesses or shortfalls.

Hyvon can’t remember what happened in the last two kilometers of the race. But she can remember the lady with the wheelchair. She was highly aware of her predicament. Knowing that someone was there for her when she was most vulnerable spurred her on to win. It is important to surround yourself with people who care enough of what you are doing and where you are going.

“There was all this logic around us telling us to stop, but there was something inside us that we couldn’t ignore.” ~Joe Gebbia (Airbnb)

3. Condition shouldn’t limit your ambition

You will find yourself in an unconventional situation. It will not make sense to others. But you mus have the determination to protect your integrity. Remember that your mindset is everything. You will encounter situations where others question your ability, your age conflicts with experience or your status with position.

On her knees, Hyvon triumphed! It was the most unconventional way I have seen anybody finish a marathon. It was not how but how strong she finished. Her mind was strong though the body was battered.

“They saw the effort, they saw the spirit, and that hard-wired commitment to get to the finish,” ~John Conley (Race Director, Austin Marathon)

Battered and tired, it feels like I am down to a crawl. If that us what it takes, I will crawl with courage. Hand over knee to serve and win. A leader always keeps his eye steadfast on the goal, the prize.

How can these three lessons help you to get to your finish line?

photo: Tough Mudder via photopin (license)

Kenyan athlete running marathon in Austin crawls across finish line
Hyvon Ngetich, 29, finished Austin Marathon and Half Marathon Sunday in 2:34:42 She crawled the last mile on her hands…

Originally published at on February 17, 2015.

Originally published at