Have you wondered if we really are capable of becoming anything we set out to be? Could you have been the astronaut or zookeeper you wished to be as a 3rd grader? Do we give up too early? Or do we simply change what we want to be? 

Ross Bernstein, keynote speaker and author of more than 40 sports books, believes that there isn’t any special sauce that successful athletes have. After researching about and interviewing thousands of world-class runners, football players, basketball players, and the like, he is convinced that it almost always comes down to desire and hard work, lots of hard work.

Often the difference between a successful athlete, business person, or artist is what they are willing to sacrifice. Since we all have the same amount of time in each day, and a fairly similar genetic makeup as humans, it comes down to what we decide to do each day. If we are willing to sacrifice social, educational, or occupational pursuits, many of us would have the opportunity to be very competitive athletes indeed.

Of course, that’s not exactly how it works. We have different interests, accept different responsibilities, live with different body types, and come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. But it stands that hard work and sacrifice can get you far. 

What else can we learn from someone who has traveled the world, given presentation to multiple Fortune 500 companies and been on countless tv and radio programs such as ESPN, CNN, and NPR? Listen to today’s episode of Running for Real to learn more from this man that loves running and says he would die without it.

Rusher, Crusher, Usher

Hockey has played a major role in Bernstein’s life. His dream as a kid was to hold the Stanley Cup, but that dream changed when he was cut from his college team. He doesn’t doubt that he could have continued to play elsewhere if he was willing to make the necessary changes, but instead decided to pivot. He was elected as mascot of the team and went on to write a book about it in his second year of college. This kickstarted his career which has provided him with opportunities he wouldn’t miss for the world.

In our own lives there will be many moments when we need to pivot. Even if we are at the top of our competition, it doesn’t last forever. In hockey, for example, at the beginning of a career you can be known as a Rusher—one that has all the energy and strength to skate into the thick of things, make the great plays, and have the crowd cheering on their feet.

As you get older, your role changes to the Crusher. Maybe not as quick to get to the puck, but a leader on the ice, one that is willing to fight for the team. 

Finally, as you leave the rink, you have the chance to be an Usher. Attending games, and mentoring younger athletes becomes your new goal. 

Each one of these positions comes with satisfaction and meaning. As you set goals for yourself, recognize times when a pivot might make sense for you. Many find fulfillment in a variety of fields or roles. If you are determined to be a certain something or accomplish a specific goal, then make the sacrifices to do so. If the sacrifices seem too great, keep searching and know that you still have many chances to have a completely fulfilling life.

What is Truly Important in Life?

While most of us here are looking to improve our running in some way, it’s always good to have a reminder of what really matters. Qualifying for a race, winning a medal, or beating a competitor, are mostly insignificant in the long run, pun intended. 

Ross has had the opportunity to travel the world giving speeches and has now visited every continent. He gives a stark reminder that there are people in the world that are still dealing with extreme poverty. Losing a race or dealing with an injury are miniscule in comparison to other global social problems.

This of course doesn’t mean we shouldn’t compete with everything we have. In fact, the opposite. Working hard to achieve goals shows our gratitude that we have the opportunity to do the things we enjoy. Be grateful to have the money to enter the local 5k or to have a doctor to visit when something doesn’t feel right.

So, what is truly important? Well, that is up to you.


Ross’s Website

Ross’s Twitter

Ross’s LinkedIn

Herb Brooks Foundation

(book) America’s Coach

Listen to the Running for Real Podcast here:

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Thank you to BodyHealth and Dang for being the wonderful sponsors of this episode of The Running For Real Podcast.

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Thanks for Listening! I hope you enjoyed today’s episode.

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Thank you to Ross, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.

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