Episode 155 – 50 Ironmans. 50 States. 50 Days. How did he do it?

Rob: Alright welcome back to our Becoming Your Best podcast, listeners. This is Rob Shallenberger here, and this going to be an awesome podcast. You know there’s one of those, two of those every once in a while that you come on that you say this is going to be amazing. Well, this is going to be one of those podcasts. So, we have with us today, actually sitting here in our office together, is James “The Iron Cowboy” Lawrence. And just a little background on him and then we’ll get into this and I’ll let him do most of the talking. Because really, truly an amazing person. World record holder, 50 Ironmans, in 50 states, in 50 days. Who do you know in the world that’s done that? He’s the one. The myth and the legend. And so, obviously so much wisdom and insight that he’ll have to offer us today and as we get into this, it’ll be fun because most of our listeners are familiar with the twelve principles. You know, these are high performance habits and principals that are very predictive of success. And James and I were just talking for a few minutes before we started and interesting to see how many of these principles he’s been focusing on and of course he’s become a champion because of that. And so, I’m excited to have you here James, welcome!

James: Awesome, thanks Rob. We have probably the best view, in the world. In the last two years, I’ve travelled through 48 countries and every time I fly back over these Utah mountains, I’m like yes this is unbelievable. And we’re sitting in your office and just a killer view. So, don’t take that for granted.

Rob: Yeah, no one can really see this right now, but we have a little bit of snow-capped peaks right now, we’ve got a blue-sky background and about 35 degrees outside.

James: It’s perfect.

Rob: It is just perfect and beautiful. Well let’s get into this James! Why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about your background and who you are and your story. And then get into some of these lessons learned that you’ve learned through your journey and how it might apply to them.

James: Yeah, the quick version, I guess, is I grew up in Canada, in Calgary, Alberta, and just the winters there just got so cold. And once I moved out of Canada and moved to Utah, I was like man why do people live there? We, we just didn’t know any better. But I came to Utah to visit a friend and met my wife, here in Utah, and we’ve got five kids. Next month, we’re celebrating our 18th anniversary. But I grew up a wrestler, and I believe that was the beginning foundations of my mental training or mental journey. It’s a tough sport.

Rob: Yeah, I don’t know any sport that is tougher than wrestling.

James: Yeah, it’s tough both physically and mentally and you have to train anaerobic and be explosive and the other guy is trying to kill ya. And so, it’s pretty intense and you know the sports evolved a ton and there’s MMA and all the mixed martial. And it’s just evolved and become so sophisticated. So, I’m a huge fan of the fight game. I watch it and analyze those top-level athletes, they’re pretty remarkable. But about 12 years ago, my wife and I got into running together and I was a two to three-time a week gym guy, just trying to maintain some fitness and starting a small family and got a couple kids and she’s like, “Hey let’s go do this four-mile fun run”, and I’m like “Four miles…” I wasn’t used to the mile system yet, and I was like “Eh, it’s probably doable.” And I just hated it. My wife, you know I had a bad experience and my wife told me I was pathetic and all these things that happened. And she’s like, “You know what? I’m signing you up for the Salt Lake City Marathon. It’s in five months. Figure it out,” kind of thing. And I’m like, “Oh okay, sweet. If four miles sucked, 26 has got to be awesome.” And, just suffered through that, just hated it. But then I was like, “You know what? I’m not going, I’m going to not let this thing beat me or define me and I’m going to figure out a way how to become a runner.” And my knees were swollen and hurting. Most people at this juncture go, “I can’t run, I have bad knees.” And I’ve since learned that you have bad knees because you don’t run. And you have to, your body has to adapt a little bit and get used to that activity. It’s like the first time you go do a workout and do some squats, you can’t sit down on the toilet the next day, right? Your legs are sore. You haven’t adapted. You haven’t built those muscles and that structure. So, didn’t love running and had a friend who was doing sprint triathlons and introduced me to the sport and instantly feel in love with it. The variety, the community, the difference. Trying to become efficient and competitive in the three different elements of it. And then quickly realized there’s the nutrition element of it then there’s the recovery element. So, there’s so many facets to triathlon racing that it’s just not one-dimension. I mean to become top-level, you have to master many disciplines and then many more disciplines outside those top three thread; the swim, bike, run. And, so, I just, I loved the challenge. I loved the community. I loved the comradery that there was when we started. And just over the last twelve years, I just, I kept showing up and learning and realized that the power of the mind and the body are incredible. And if you give it the right tools and enough time and patience, I say a lot that the secret to success is doing a lot of little things consistently over a long period of time.

Rob: Yes, man, I couldn’t agree more.

James: And to become a master of the basics, I say from stage, a high tolerance for monotony is a decidedly underrated superpower. Because when things become the toughest, they should become the easiest because we’ve mastered those basics. When we’re backed into a corner, we’re beat up and don’t know how to do it. That first step is just the basics, right? And that’s how you get going. We’ve all heard motion creates emotion. And I do a bit in my presentation, when I found my breaking point in the 50 Ironmans that we did, to where it’s, can I be perfect for one second? Can I move and be perfect, execute, for one second? And the answer is yes. I don’t care who you are or how bad the depth of your pain and suffering is? One second. Can you be perfect, and then you build on that. The hardest thing to do, is the first second. And then it’s a process there.

Rob: Talk about, yeah that’s interesting you brought that up, the mindset and the power of the mind. So, one of our opening slides in a keynote, whatever we do in a seminar, is Becoming Your Best and then it says mindset plus skillset. And we talked about mindset a little bit in the beginning. I mean a person could have all the skill set in the world, right? But if we don’t have the right mindset, and I can’t think of very many things in the world that would test a person’s mindset more than like an Ironman. Let alone doing 50-50-50. So, talk a little bit from your perspective about mindset.

James: Yeah, I mean, you can only get so physically fit. You can only get ready to a certain degree. And at some point in time on any journey, your mind has to take over. And it’s interesting, one of the biggest questions I get is, “How amazing was the sleep got on, the 51st day? How was that?” And I was like “Well it wasn’t that great.” And the reality was is your mind takes over. And when my mind and my body were in sync, and there’s a lot more that goes into this statement, but my last 20 Ironmans were the fastest of all 50. And it’s because I pushed and evolved and adapted to a point, and I also realized what my purpose was, my passion and all those things. They were my 50. But when the mind and the body come into sync with each other, day 51, your mind is still telling your body that I’m going to get up and go do an Ironman. It doesn’t know the difference yet, right? Because it’s in the mode of “He’s doing an Ironman tomorrow, I have to get him ready”. And so that 50th night, my body’s busy trying to repair and get ready for an Ironman tomorrow. And then it realized, “Oh he didn’t do one on today,” and then, “Oh wait he didn’t do one, maybe he’s done”. And then now, that mind lets go. And it now lets you feel everything that it was masking for you, right? And now, now the real journey starts of figuring out how to recover, because the mind was so powerful and was allowing you to do these things. Or not allowing you but hiding from you what you were actually doing. And so, that really showcases the power of the mind and just because you wake up and you think you’re going to get rest, that’s when the next phase of your journey begins. But the mind is so powerful it was a shock, two or three days after I finished, and my mind went, “You are done. Now I’m going to let you feel everything that I’ve had the power to hide from you.”

Rob: That is interesting, isn’t it? I love the words that you used, when your mind and your body were in sync with each other, talking about that. Well let’s go back to the beginning of this journey. So, 50 Ironmans, 50 Days, 50 States.

James: Yeah, let’s define an Ironman.

Rob: Yeah, exactly, so let’s define an Ironman, talk about what that is, and then how this journey evolved.

James: Yeah, so Ironman is a brand. They get really, really touchy. It’s actually a long-distance triathlon. Ironman would be like a Kleenex. It’s not a tissue, it’s a Kleenex, right? They’re going to lose the battle one day, as far as being common domain. But a long-distance triathlon or an Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim, 3.8 kilometers. It is a 112-mile bike ride, or 180 kilometers. And then a 26.2-mile marathon run, full marathon, which is 42 kilometers. And that totals 140.6 miles or 220 kilometers.

Rob: So, I can just tell right now that anyone who’s listening to this podcast, their jaw is probably dropping. Because they’re saying, “Wait a second, that in of itself would be a Herculean effort, just to do that!”

James: Yeah, it’s a single day event. It’s considered the toughest single sporting, single sporting event day in sports. You have up to 17 hours to complete it. The professionals of the highest levels are coming in right around eight hours. So, you got to think, zone three, four effort for eight solid hours. I mean it breaks people down. People train years to do a single Ironman. Less than one percent of the population does a marathon. And it’s like .01% of the population that does an Ironman. So, it’s tumbling to being rare.

Rob: Oh, the discipline, the plan, the training, the vision that has to be there just to accomplish one Ironman. I mean a close friend of ours, a doctor in Heber City, where I live, we watched him train just for one. He went out to Kona, I believe, out in Hawaii. And he’s done a couple throughout his life, but man, to watch the training just for the one event. Like you said.

James: Yeah, it’s intense.

Rob: But let’s talk about your journey, now that we’ve defined that. How did this come about? That obviously just doesn’t happen overnight.

James: Yeah, no the journey started 12 years ago. And, so, 12 years ago, there’s no way, it wasn’t on the radar to even do an Ironman, let alone 50. In 2010, I was raising money for a charity, in our own quiet way. It was my father-in-law’s charity and they were building dams in Africa. And I was like, “Oh, I want to help. I want to do something.” And I’m like “How can I combine triathlon and fundraising?”, it was when doing sport and fundraising was becoming popular. And you’d get donations or pledges to do an event or a certain amount of miles. I remember doing it in elementary school, “Hey, 50 cents for every lap that I do!” And it goes to the school. And I was like “Well, I wonder if I can get donations and I’ll do as many as half-Ironmans as I can in a year.” And about half-way through that year, I was like, “You know, I wonder if there’s a record.” And so, then we got in contact with Guinness, ended up breaking that world record. And then I was like, “Wait a second. I don’t want to the be the half-Ironman world record holder. What’s the record for the full Ironmans?” Can we raise some more money there, too. And so, I did some research and found out it was 20 full Ironmans around the world. And then I said, “Okay, I don’t want to just do 21. I want to set a new standard.” And I went and did 30 full Ironmans through 11 countries that year. Second world record. And both of those by the way have been broken, which is awesome. That’s the whole point of why I do these types of things, is to motivate people to believe in themselves…

Rob: Yeah, it resets their mindset of what’s possible.

James: It resets their mindset, it’s crazy. And then I was sitting there, at the end of the year where we did 30, hardest thing I had ever done to that point. But I looked back and was like, “You know what, it really wasn’t that hard.” Because of the way the mind, when you’re doing something it’s hard but now you have that experience and that growth. And what was once hard is no longer, because it, you know, life experience. And so, I looked back and I went, “That was tough. But I didn’t reach my mental physical limits.” And then I was like, “What do I do? Who am I when I reach that limit? Like, do I quit? Or do I figure it out?” And I was like, “Well I want to know! I want to know what I do!” And so, I was like, “What’s the hardest thing?”

Rob: I just think it’s fascinating right here, just to pause, you’re asking yourself the questions about what you’re really capable of.

James: For sure.

Rob: And it’s these questions that are starting to plant a seed for this vision that emerges. So, what would happen if we never asked the questions, we just said “You know what, that was awesome. That was good.” Just ironic asking yourself these questions, and I just introspectively hope that all of us are asking questions that say, “What’s next for us?”

James: Well, right at the end of my keynote, I say, “Hey, I had a unique opportunity to have 50 really long conversations with myself on the bike.” Those are moments when you’re by yourself, and moments to reflect. And I go through a series of questions: Who am I? Who do I want to be? What type of father, what type of spouse? And you know, it’s those reflective questions. And one of the questions I asked, I say, do you know what your fears are and are you willing to face them? And most people, our fears paralyze us. And we’ve also all heard, the best version of you is on the other side of your fears. And so, you know, I had that moment. I was on race 27 of 30. And I was like, it was tough, but I want to know what I would do. Dean Karnazes, is a pioneer in our sport and in ultrarunning. And he did, long time ago and many people have followed in his footsteps but he’s the most famous because he did it first, and he did 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states. And just blew people’s minds on what was possible and what not. And my whole career has been doing things with Ironmans. And I saw a shirt one day and it said, “Oh you’ve done a marathon, that’s cute” and then it said 140.6 right? And so, I was like, “Oh, he did it with marathons, that’s cute” just to myself jokingly. I’ve actually never said that publicly so no offense to anybody. Marathon is very, very hard and Dean is a total stud, I’ve had conversations with him and we’re friends. But I thought, “What would happen if I did that with an Ironman?” And I made the announcement, and I was super excited because I had just come off the 30 and my experience and perception and perspective was different. And then I was just shocked. Backlash. The negativity that was just flooded, flooded in on social media and friends and family they were like, “That’s stupid. Can’t be done.”

Rob: Really?

James: Sat down with doctors like “You’re going to die.” I’m like, “Sweet. Not talking to doctors anymore.”

Rob: That’s interesting that you get that much negative backlash for that vision.

J: Well it’s because, again, it’s perception. It’s where you are on your journey. And being three years removed from the fifty and my focus has been somewhere else and I’m still in shape but I’m not at that level of fitness that I was at. And I’ve been focusing on helping people get unstuck. So, we’ve travelling the world and speaking and got the book and the documentary and working on a movie. And it just takes a bunch of time and work and effort. And so, my fitness has lagged from that level that I was at. And somebody said to me, let’s say I had never done the 50 or the 30 and whatever, and someone said to me right now, I’m going to go do 50 Ironmans in 50 days, I’d go that’s stupid, you can’t do it, it’s not even possible. But for me to go into these mountains and do a 10-mile run I’m like “Whew, that was some work, son!” Like, like that’s challenging. Like for me to get in the water right now and swim two and a half miles, I’d be like no. Like, hard pass. Like, you lose fitness quick.

Rob: Yeah, for sure.

James: And so, it’s always perception. And that’s why you got to be careful on who you judge and what they’re doing because you don’t know their life experience, you don’t how great they are at something or how poor or where they are in their journey. So yeah, we just have to trust in people and hope they know what they’re talking about. And at the time, I knew what I was talking about. Um, I was the only one in the world that had done that amount, that level, that intensity. And I went into it half-naive, which is always a blessing, not knowing what the journey is going to look like, right? And then, then just with a ton of confidence, a little bit of swagger. Because of what we did and I just, for two and a half years I just attacked this concept, my vision was so strong. And I just started putting, slowly putting the pieces together. And trust me, I had no clue how we were going to do it. Like, no idea. I just knew that there was going to be a way and that we were going to figure it out. And I slowly just started to put pieces of the puzzle together. And then even when we started, got on the plane to go to Hawaii, took my family there for 10 days and we set up camp, even on the way out we didn’t have all the pieces in place. I still didn’t know how we were going to do it.

Rob: And just to go back, you said, so that that’s not lost on people, two and half years of planning.

James: Yeah. I mean it just, we talked a little about this beforehand, but I see a lot of, because I’ve, you know people contact me with goals and they want help and different things and they contact me and are like, “Hey what do you think of this goal? How can I accomplish it? What do I need to have in place?” And first thing I always send back is, “What’s the timeframe? When are you looking to accomplish this?” And they’re like in three months. And I’m like bro chill for a second like you have to give the goal the respect it deserves and that typically is a timeframe. And it’s a great goal! Like the 50-50 ten years ago would have been a great goal for when I did it, not for back then. And I mean, I couldn’t even conceptualize it back then. But yeah, to give it the respect that it deserves. But, here’s my thing on planning, and I know it’s one of the principles that you guys talk about, you have to have a plan, and you do. But then there’s going to be a point where you can plan your way to a failure…

Rob: Yes!

James: And you eventually just have to start doing it. Because you can’t plan for everything.

Rob: Yes.

James: And I’ve seen a lot of people fail because they’re too rigid with the plan on how they’re going to get there and they’re not willing to flex and bend and change with the seasons. Or individuals or circumstances. And so, we had as much of a plan as we thought we would be successful with and then in some point in time, like I could literally still be planning the perfect 50 today because there are just so many unknowns and what not. So, we had…

Rob: Paralysis by analysis.

James: Exactly. You could just continually break it down. And that, there is a thing where it’s like fear, I’m scared to start do I have the proper plan am I going to fail. At some point in time, you have to take a step back and go, “Okay, I believe in my team. I have a plan. My framework is solid. And there’s just some details that I’m not 100% sure on.” And it’s because, there are things that you don’t know are going to happen because of things and experiences during there, growth that happens. I mean the growth that we had during 50 days was something we, you don’t know where you’re going to end up or what it’s going to look like, who you’re going to run into, what experiences they can offer, what expertise they can offer, what holes and gaps they can fill for us.

Rob: Like for example, I just saw one of your Instagram posts and some guy in Florida, I think it was, running with an umbrella to keep you out of the sun.

James: Yeah, absolutely.

Rob: How do you ever plan for random umbrella guy?

James: Random umbrella guy. Or the guy who shows up and he has a hamburger and sweet potato fries for you. And you just say, “Hey, that’s awesome thanks!” Yeah, you just can’t plan for things like that and we didn’t plan to hit a deer in the middle of the night and take out our generator and not have air conditioning or a place to have food. That wasn’t in our plan. I didn’t plan to crash on day 18, you know you don’t plan those things. Hurricane Bill, what? That wasn’t in my game plan for three days, you know? Losing all of my toes and having the nerve endings exposed. I thought we’d have pain, but nerve endings exposed, like that’s something, I didn’t expect that, I didn’t know how to deal with that. So, we had to shift and evolve and make adjustments. And had we been so rigid, I mean, day number one, we were pulled over by the police in Hawaii, in the middle of the night and they said, “Hey, you can’t be on this road.” Huh, okay. That would have been the perfect opportunity to go, “Yeah, let’s go back to the drawing board. Let’s reset and go back to the drawing board.” And I was like, “No, we have to figure this out. We’re allowed to be here. Let’s communicate at a high level and figure this out and keep going.” I also say for on stage, if you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.

Rob: Yeah, that’s a great saying.

James: We had a unique opportunity every single day to quit and give up and go back to that drawing board, right? Instead we developed persistence and resilience.

Rob: So, this is a good segway, and I can’t believe we’ve been going for 20 minutes already.

James: Could go all day. Buckle down people!

Rob: What are a couple of your biggest lessons learned. Through this entire process, I mean, you look back and you say, you’re in the zone, your mind and your body were in sync, you know you’re focused, you’re going after your vision, you’re executing the plan, you’re pivoting where necessary. With all of this, that you did along the way, what were some of your biggest lessons learned?

James: Yeah, it’s something, it’s something, it’s the truth. It’s something my mother always said to me is, “James, 10% of life is what happens to you. 90% is how you choose to react to it.” And it was just such a truth for me out on the 50 and out on the journey that we’ve been on is, where are you putting your focus and attention? Are you so busy seeking out the negatives and the problems? And that becomes your reality. Or are you like no, I found the good thing today. And I’m going to put my focus and attention there, and then build upon that instead of everything else that is distracting you and pulling you from what you’re trying to get. And so, for me, isolating and learning how to isolate that one beautiful thing and then that’s where you shift your focus. Because, it was amazing to watch just the science behind it. When I was riding my bike, and as soon as I found my thoughts going somewhere negative, boom, heart rate jumps, power drops.

Rob: Interesting.

James: And then as soon as I shifted that narrative in my head, heart rate drops, power goes up. And I was like, “Woah, wait a second here.” So, I have a choice, and that choice in my mind has a direct correlation to the performance and output that I’m putting out. I can be more efficient, with less effort and I’m happier. So as soon as I had that massive paradigm shift and correlate it with performance and output, I was like, “Okay, now I’ve got to really be conscious and present.” I also say that the power of being present, there’s only one time that’s important and that time is now. Because it’s the only time we have any power. So, let’s not focus about 10 miles from now or the 10 miles back when I crashed. Let’s focus on right now, and what we’re dealing with, right now.

Rob: So interesting that you say that, I’m just, my mind is just spinning with ideas. This morning, we gather our family every morning for a few minutes to read, to talk, and pray together. And one of the discussions this morning was let’s be extremely conscious of what we take into our minds today, and our bodies. So, you know, food, but really what we’re talking about is our thoughts. What’s coming through our eyes? What’s coming in our ears? And what thoughts are going through our minds?

James: For sure.

Rob: And let’s not allow anything in there that would decrease our energy or be a negative thought. Let’s change it and find, I love what you said, isolate the positive, if you will. And that was just fascinating to me what you said right there. The physical relationship to our thoughts of your heart rates goes up, your power decreases when that negative thought starts to creep in. And you recognize it and can immediately make that switch. And then the reverse happens: heart rate drop, power goes up. What an awesome lesson.

James: Pretty cool, huh?

Rob: It is cool! And I totally believe it.

James: Backed by science.

Rob: Research absolutely would back that. The court is all versus the endorphins, etc. So, what’s one more, if you had to say, with the couple minutes we have left, what’s another lesson learned going back and say you know this is one of the things that I shaped me coming out of that?

James: Um, nothing great is ever accomplished on our own. And it’s crazy I’ve been around the world speaking and trying to help people get unstuck, and we limit ourselves. At first, it’s a self-belief. But then it’s surrounding yourself with individuals that’ll bring you up. Everyone is like, “Hey, do you have a coach?” Absolutely, I had 10 coaches. I had a nutrition coach, I had a power-strength coach, I had a swim coach, I had, I knew my weaknesses. And I couldn’t have possibly been an expert in all things. And so, I surrounded myself with people that were smarter than I was. And it brought up my level of intelligence, right? And we’re in the day in age, I know people right now listening are going like “Agh, that’s expensive, I don’t have that…” I was dead broke. Five kids, wife in school full-time, we’d filed bankruptcy, we’d lost everything in the economy. They took my home away. I was on the street. So, we had no money. The internet is a beautiful thing, people. And there are so many free resources until you can surround yourself with another level of expertise. But for me, it was realizing that mankind is beautiful and there’s so many people out there willing to help and get behind you on your journey. Make sure your core, core around you is solid. Because if by chance you waver and your why or your purpose just isn’t big enough for a moment, those people need to be around you to bring you up and push you from behind.

Rob: Man, I can’t believe how in alignment we are with so many thoughts.

James: Yeah, I can’t believe it. I know, it’s crazy.

Rob: It’s just amazing truly. Because you know there’s the old adages, the five people you spend the most time with and you’ll be the same person in five years, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. The point is, you’re exactly right. We have an incredible vision, you have your plan, we surround ourselves with the right people, we’re extremely conscious of our thoughts. And all of these things together, is what allowed you to do what people said was impossible. And having the coaches! I mean there’s no doubt. How many times does our ego stop us from saying, our could it stop us, is attempting to stop us, where we say, “You know, I’m fine in that area.” And it’s not what we don’t know, it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know sometimes.

James: Exactly.

Rob: I didn’t know the other part of your story, and this actually made it even better, is that, I didn’t know you went through that time in your life when you filed for bankruptcy, you know went broke…

James: I used to own a mortgage company. And it was the mortgage sector…

Rob: Oh, it’s true 2008.

James: Yep.

James: But, total side note, best thing that ever happened to me. Where would I be today had I not lost everything?

Rob: Yes! It puts you in survival mode almost.

James: Yes, holy cow.

Rob: And what is the alternative reality that could’ve been?

James: I would still be writing loans and I would be miserable. I just, I certainly wouldn’t be here looking at this view.

Rob: Well, as a side note, I’m just trying to tip my hat to you because as I’ve followed you through the years, and this is the first time we’ve ever actually met in person.

James: Yeah.

Rob: But I’ve watched the influence that you’ve had on people. I’ve subtly watched comments, and there’s this line that we use in our seminars that says, “One person can make a difference.” When you start applying these principals, your vision, your plan, you focusing on your thoughts and you going out and doing this, I would daresay has influenced if not tens-of-thousands, hundreds-of-thousands. And the ripple effect has certainly gone into the millions. And that just can’t be understated because we’ll never know the end of that ripple effect.

James: Sure. I don’t think we’ve hit a tipping point yet….

Rob: Oh no.

James: …on our journey. On what’s to come and the influence. Somebody said to me the other day that this, and it resonated with me, they said this is the greatest endurance achievement of all time that nobody knows about. And I was like that’s a great compliment, how do we fix that. But at the end of the day, you know, I don’t want to be known for the 50. I want to be known for helping people get unstuck. And I look around and so many people have, they’re comparing themselves to the current standard of excellence. And that standard sucks. Right? And so, I want people to use the current standard as their starting benchmark. And then go beyond that. Salary caps are meant for professional sports, not for what we can accomplish and where we can take our minds and our bodies.

Rob: Yeah that’s interesting. How many of us are blocked by our own mindset and comfort? And this is actually interesting. You know, one of the things that I would suggest is that in many cases comfort is one of our greatest hindrances to progress.

James: I say that we’re creatures of comfort.

Rob: Yeah. And so, let’s take this theme that we’re on right now of health and fitness, you know we’re talking about the 50-50-50, and this point of helping people get unstuck. How many of us, we’ve all been there at some point, where we’ve had ambitions to do something, whatever it is, it could be health-related, you know go run a 5k, like you said, and just doing something is better than doing nothing. The art is in the start. You know this old saying they have? You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. At some point, we need to go out and do something. And probably unrealistic for most of us, say we’re going to go out and do a 50-50-50. But I think you said something that was really valuable for all of us, and I’d tune into this, it’s not about comparing ourselves to James Lawrence. It’s about saying, could we be a better version of ourselves tomorrow, next week, or even owning the moment today?

James: Everybody’s heart is different. And that’s okay.

Rob: Yes.

James: And that’s okay. As long as we show up, we’re facing some fears and we’re training to become better people.

Rob: I can’t agree more. Well, any parting thoughts? I can’t believe it’s been 30 minutes and I’m certain people going to love this. So, any parting tips? And then I’ll have you give your website and share where they can find you. Any last thoughts?

James: I love what you just said it’s just getting started. I love to say motion creates emotion. And then it is the fact that getting started, once you start it’s not going to be as big of a deal as you thought it once was. We’ll leave with this, that we will always be our toughest critics.

Rob: Oh yeah.

James: We will always be hardest on ourselves. And the way we look at ourselves is typically the worst version of what other people are seeing. And so, we need to believe in ourselves and start to see the excellence that others are seeing in us. And literally, my journey started with a four-mile fun run that I suffered through. I couldn’t swim, I was gasping for air on the side of the pool with a nose plug. And now we have accomplished something that was deemed impossible. And it started with the first step. The first step isn’t going to kill you and you just have to start.

Rob: That is such great advice. Well, how can people find you James? If they want to learn more about you?

James: I’m very active on social, mostly on Instagram, Iron Cowboy James, follow me there. On Facebook it’s Iron Cowboy. My website is I’ve got a lot of cool things coming down the pipeline. I’ve got a book that’s doing really well, it’s the full story. It’s called Redefine Impossible. It’s what I believe we attempted to do, was redefine the impossible. That’s available on Amazon, you can check that out. And I don’t know when this is going to drop, and it might be too late, but for the next week or so, Amazon Prime has our documentary and it’s going to be shifting over to Apple TV.

Rob: And the name of the documentary is what?

James: The Story of the 50.

Rob: Okay.

James: Yeah, and right now it’s free on Amazon Prime. So, if this drops in time, we’ve got about a week left. After that it’ll come down. And if not, I’m an open book. If you want access to other things and discounts and what not, just shoot me an email, I reply personally to all my emails and am happy to do that.

Rob: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well thank you for sharing that with them. And I’m flying to Hawaii tomorrow, so I have seven hours sitting on the plane, I’m going to watch this tomorrow.

James: Awesome. Good. I’m going to Nigeria, so I’ve got to find something to watch.

Rob: And just you know, it’s kind of fun as a side note, James and I have been trying to sync our schedules for what like six months, it seems like?

James: Yeah, it feels like forever. And we’re happy to be in the same continent, state, and city.

Rob: We’re so glad we were able to do this. Well, James, thanks so much for being on the show.

James: Thank you.

Rob: Such great takeaways from our listeners and you know as a reminder, this is not something that I hope that we just listen to and say you know that’s cool. I would hope that you can share this with someone else and be the catalyst in someone else’s life. Share this podcast, share this show with them and you be the person that makes a difference for someone else because all of us can do better as we apply these things that James has just shared today. So, thanks for being on the show, James.

James: Absolutely, man.

Rob: Appreciate it, brother.

Rob (outro): Thank you for listening! Would you like help to apply the 12 principles of highly successful leaders in your life, in your family, or in your organization? Call us today at 888-690-8764 to speak to a helpful representative to evaluate your situation and how we can help. Or you can visit Whether it’s a corporate training event, keynote, workshop, training certification, or personal coaching, it would be our pleasure to serve your needs. Once again, call 888-690-8764, or visit today.

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