Cliff Young. You probably have never heard of him, unless you were around Sydney or Melbourne in the mid-'80s.
Once upon a time, the Aussies had a fun run. Actually, it was a grueling, 543-mile ultra-marathon from Sydney to Melbourne. The participants tended to be 30-year-old world-class runners sponsored by Nike or Adidas. They trained year-round. That is the truth. This ultra-marathon took five days; participants ran for 18 hours and slept for six hours until they reached the finish line. That, too, is the truth.
In 1983, the first year the ultra-marathon was held, a 61-year-old sheep farmer by the name of Cliff Young showed up. He was dressed in bib overalls and work boots. The marathon organizers thought he was a joke entrant. He was asked, "What makes you think you can compete in this race; you are so old." Cliff replied, "Well, I reckon' since my farm is two thousand acres and I've got two thousand sheep, some days I spend three days chasin' 'em, I reckon' I could finish this race."
Once the race began, Cliff was quickly left behind. He didn't even run properly. Instead, he sort of shuffled. Many were concerned for his safety. He didn't know the truth. 1 He didn't know you were supposed to sleep. Six hours multiplied by five days was 30 hours of shuffling while the youngsters slept. At the end of the race, Cliff not only won, but set a course record: he won by TWO DAYS! When marathon officials gave him a check for $10,000, he was shocked.
He didn't know there was a purse for the winner. He had done it for fun. Cliff gave $2,000 to each of the other five runners and kept none for himself. His generosity endeared him to the nation. He became a media sensation. The Aussies were Delirious Down Under because Cliff didn't know the truth. You can see him here:
Paradigm shifts are, by definition, a change in belief systems. Whether that shift is in innovative technology or human performance, things never go back to the way they were before the shift happened. It's happening right now with e-books, downloadable movies on Google, YouTube, and Netflix, with electric cars, Skype, the iPad, and the list goes on and on. Once the paradigm is changed, we never go back. Think of 8-track tapes, waiting six to eight weeks for delivery, or cars that get four miles per gallon. You get the idea.
I am headed Down Under for two weeks to speak and sight-see. I have read three e-books in preparation: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, Frommers Australia 2012, and Mutant Message Down Under by Marla Morgan. Instead of lugging three books that weigh a total of ten pounds, they sit quietly in my iPad along side videos downloaded from Netflix. I have even begun journaling on my iPad (heresy!). I may never go back! All this research has made me delirious. Soon I will be Delirious Down Under.
What changes have occurred in your business? Are you keeping up with technology? Have you created a Learning Organization? Do you regularly train, educate, and invest in books, CDs, seminars, consulting, and information that will keep you ahead of the other runners? Are you shuffling when you run? It's okay not to know the truth. Most companies run for 18 hours and sleep for six.
Have you had someone criticize you for trying something new? Are you afraid of what people will think? There is an old adage that says, "Only share your goals with people who believe in you and your dreams and can help you get there." Proving the naysayers wrong is very rewarding. When I left a really great job selling service agreements in the HVAC industry to follow my dream of being a speaker and writer, most people thought I was nuts. Twenty years later, I am shuffling off to Australia, Melbourne and Sydney to be exact, on the fourth of May. You see, I had a "Bucket List" (buy more buckets was #9 on the list!). In my first book, Freedom from Fear, there is a LIFETIME GOAL LIST.
Cliff came to prominence again in 1997 at age 76 when he attempted to raise money for homeless children by running around Australia's border. He completed 6,520 kilometers of the 16,000-kilometer run before he had to pull out because his only crew member became ill. Cliff Young passed away in 2003 at age 81.
Today, the "Young-shuffle" has been adopted by ultra-marathon runners because it is considered more energy-efficient. At least three champions of the Sydney-to-Melbourne race used the shuffle to win it. Furthermore, in subsequent years, competitors did not sleep. Winning the race required runners to go all night as well as all day, just like Cliff Young. That's the truth.