Lessons From Lexi


This is an extract from the birthday card that I made for my daughter.  She’s three.

The picture above, and on the card, is her parents on the island of Tahiti. We didn’t need to travel to French Polynesia to have peace in our hearts but it certainly didn’t hurt.


Happy Third Birthday!

You are a great daughter and I wanted to share a couple of things that I’ve learned from you.

As you go through life, keep these close to your heart because people sometimes forget them.

The best way to greet a friend is with a hug and a smile. We love your smile and we love your hugs.

Last week, you barfed in my car. Some day you’ll have to clean up someone else’s barf but this isn’t the lesson. What I really love about you is you didn’t carry the experience with you. Learn from the past then leave it. At the bottom of the canyon, you told me before you went blah (your word, not mine). Thanks for learning!

You are a very strong little girl.  Remember that the difference between bossy and assertive is manners.

Finally, you taught me that I love you is better than I’m sorry. I’m grateful and I love you, even when you pinch me (you ask me about this a lot right now).




Ironwar, Pain and Doping

A decade before I did my first triathlon, I remember watching Mark and Dave duel on Wide World of Sports.

We never know where life will take us and my life took me to both Mark and Dave. Until some joker writes an unauthorized biography on me, I’m the only one that truly sees the irony.

Because Mark, Dave and Jane (Dave’s sis) took an interest in me, my life is better every single day. I use what they taught me throughout my life.

If there’s a lesson in coaching then it is the long-term impact we can have on our athletes. My life’s mission is to share the lessons that I’ve learned from working with great men and women, people like Mark and Dave.

The guys told us what they think about the book (fiction, fantasy and fabrication) and, initially, I had not planned on reading it.  However, Velopress is my publisher and, on reflection, I wanted to know what my business partners are up to.

I’ll cut to the chase.

Ironwar lacks honor.

The book has caused unnecessary stress and pain to the guys, and their families. The book is a long-term business mistake. People of quality want to work for companies with strong ethics.

It’s in every one’s interest to do the right thing.

I’d like to see the parties come together, rewrite the book and tell the real story of Mark and Dave’s careers.  My family has heard it from both of them.  It would be a product of which everyone could be proud.

You can reach the publisher of Velopress at: Ted Constantino (tcostantino@competitorgroup.com) and the investors behind Competitor Group at: Mitch Thrower (mitchthrower@yahoo.com).

Always be willing to make a little less money to do the right thing.


Athletes talk a lot about soaking up pain. Good, but not great, athletes are all about pain and depletion.

Here’s how going fast feels to a guy that’s gone 8:29 and won Ultraman.

If I feel pain in my body then I am feeling resistance, generally it’s a mental resistance to the way things are at the time. Whether I am experiencing physical pain, anger or fear – it all has the same root cause – resistance to the way things are.

The greats have a tremendous capacity to accept, endure and open themselves up to the experience of going fast.  Some folks call this Athletic Flow but the easiest way to explain it is a total physical relaxation with a mind that’s void, but completely open. It’s well documented in all spiritual, and sports psychology, texts.

This concept of flow is available to us all. It’s a mistake to focus on pain. Athletes that focus on pain, find it… …then end up chronically injured.

It’s the same with fear and anger, which are toxic to our lives outside of sport.


Seeing as I’m telling you what I really think this morning… doping.

A number of my pals are racing Ironman Hawaii and a few of them have been targeted by the haters.

As an insider, what can I tell you about doping? With certainty I can confirm:

  • Athletes that cheat have done very well at Ironman.
  • Athletes do not need to cheat to do very well at Ironman.

You are the only person that will ever know if you are clean. You can’t prove it, so live true to yourself and love your inner circle.

Where I’ve ended up with doping (other than John 8:7) is to acknowledge that energy spent trying to “fix” others would be better spent improving myself and helping the stars in my life.

In terms of racing, if you want to avoid cheaters then race your pals, locally, in events without prize money or championship slots. It’s why I went to Big Kahuna this year.

Cheaters are focused on winning, external recognition, sex and money – these are false gods of achievement.  Success, and meaning, is found by overcoming ourselves.

To end, I’ll paraphrase Chris McCormack, as it’s relevant to all three sections:

Just because you can’t sort yourself out, don’t try to pull down another.

Be Great,

gordo byrn

Real-World Personal Planning

Across the summer, Endurance Corner had a series of articles about creating the life structure of an elite amateur athlete. Sue laid out very specific ideas for creating the space necessary to get stuff done. Even if you’re not focused on maximizing your athletic performance, the articles have ideas that will help you create the space necessary to undertake a major life project.

When we read articles on time management, our minds will list reasons why we can’t.  That’s OK. When I consult on time management, I make the point that you don’t want to (try to) implement everything.  

Take one idea and implement it now.

Make that first idea a habit then take another and implement it now.

People that fail to get stuff done are trying to get too much done.


A common error is to think that money is holding us back.  The thinking goes…

…if I only had enough money then I could sub-contract my shopping, meal prep, cleaning, driving, child care… and I wouldn’t have to work. I’d be on permanent vacation and I’d be happy.

Given my previous career in finance, I know many people that choose to live a life that’s “fully sub-contracted.” Most of them are bored.

The best lesson of the last recession (2008/2009) was re-learning to enjoy daily living. Faced with a massive reduction in personal income, I brought my life completely “in-house.” My life is more stable now and I’ve lost the illusion that a utopia of happiness lay ahead – if I could just rid myself of daily life.

Because there is tremedous social, and media, support to follow a path of luxury (ever reduced responsibility, ever increasing wealth) – I pay attention to individuals that choose to stay engaged, regardless of their capacity to subcontract.

What can we learn from these highly productive people?

My friend’s profile:

  • Married with kids
  • Sits on 10-12 boards
  • Manages his own business, which he founded and continues to lead
  • Oversees 50+ managers in his capacity as a fund trustee 

It’s tempting for me to write “despite all this, he is still a great athlete.” My buddy would tell you “because he’s so busy, he has the skills to be a decent athlete.”

What can we learn from a man that doesn’t want to subcontract his life, wants to be extremely productive and retains the freedom to achieve personal goals?

The best time to talk with an endurance athlete is during moderate exercise. I took advantage of an opportunity to conduct a running-interview (my version of a walking meditation). Key tips:

On an rolling annual basis: place the big things first – block out full days for important items and get away from your daily routine to apply total focus.

On a daily basis: focus on a limited # of things – know what you want to get done each day and check the alignment of how you spend your time.

Rotate your focus: triathlon focused years (self) alternate with family focused years (others).

Learn how to say no a lot – he passes on ~20 attractive opportunites per day (!)

Be willing to make unpopular decisions that are in the best interests of the people you represent – achieve this by having alignment with inner circle (spouse/family/work/self).

Be an exemplar – first up in the morning, first out the door, most productive.  Being an exemplar creates considerable personal freedom.  Freedom flows through being fit for leadership.

None of the above require money and I find these traits present in most my peers that are highly satisfied with their lives.

Be Great.