One of the hardest things for us to deal with is pain. Our mind tries to prevent us from experiencing it. It’s just trying to protect us and keep us alive.
When we push through that pain, however, that’s when we accomplish greatness.
Now I don’t mean continuing with a broken arm. I mean pushing through those tough times when your mind is trying to tell your body to stop, but you know you have more to give.
That’s why I wanted to bring you today’s guest, the Iron Cowboy himself: James Lawrence.
James did 50 Ironman Triathlons, in 50 days, in 50 states.
He was constantly on the move for 12 hours a day, running, swimming, and cycling. As soon as he was finished, he had to travel to the next state.
Most days James only had about four hours to rest.
That’s no time for your body to recover.
Did he hurt? Did he want to give up? Of course. But James ended up powering through, breaking a Guinness World Record.
At the end of the 50 days, his body had begun to accept that this was its new reality (and he felt like he needed to do another triathlon after he finished!)
Humans can push themselves so much further than we think. We just need to get over our mental barriers to see what we can really achieve.
Learn what it takes to develop your skills and overcome your boundaries, on Episode 653.
Lewis Howes: This is episode number 653, with Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence.
Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.
Maya Angelou said, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
I’m excited about this episode, because I don’t think I’ve ever met a man who has put himself through this much pain. This man is James Lawrence. He’s a record setting triathlete, known as the ‘Iron Cowboy’, he holds the current world record for the most Iron Man distance triathlons completed within a single calendar year; thirty of them, in 2012.
He also holds the record for the most half-distance Iron Man triathlons in one year, twenty-two, in 2011. In 2015 he completed the insanely crazy 50 Iron Man length triathlons in 50 consecutive days, one in each of the 50 US States. Yes. I did not mistake myself in what I said, this man is almost insane, but he’s so cool at the same time.
And I was so excited to connect with him, and to learn about how he disciplined his mind to go through so much pain, and such a long time. You know, we’re talking twelve, fourteen hours at a time to complete one of these Iron Man triathlons. And to do it every single day for 50 days, it just blows my mind.
So, I wanted to learn how he was able to even train for this, how he was able to get a big enough ‘why’ to stick it out. You know, sometimes, people can’t even do a twenty minute workout and he’s doing 50 days in a row, 14 hours a day, basically killing himself. How was he able to find a deep enough ‘why’?
How do you keep going when you want to quit? How do you restart your career after you failed big? You know, we talked about the key to accomplishing a massive goal and avoid overwhelm, or breakdown. Also, whether talent or hard work matters more in high performance, and the best way to talk to yourself when you’re alone and struggling.
This, my friends, and so much more is a powerful episode! Make sure to share with your friends, lewishowes.com/653, tag me, @LewisHowes, on Instagram, let me know that you’re listening, and check out the full video interview and show notes back there as well.
Before we dive in, a big shout out to the Fan of the Week! This is from DigKid, who said, “Truly great! Ever since I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to do great things. Throughout my life, when I talked about this drive inside me, people around me didn’t believe in me, or didn’t take what I said seriously.
“For so long, I felt like I was the only one who felt this way, until I found The School of Greatness. For the first time in my life, I feel I’ve actually found a community that I belong to. This podcast changed my life! The first time I listened to an episode, my entire mindset, that had felt so unusual from those around me, was instantly validated. The information, energy, guidance and self-elevating content on this podcast is 100% priceless.”
So, my friend, DigKid, you are not alone! And anyone else listening, you are not alone! If you’ve got that crazy passion, desire, dream, energy, you’ve got a community right here. It’s called The School of Greatness. Welcome to the family!
We’ve got to do a big family group hug sometime, and I think, at The Summit of Greatness, I’m going to have everyone who attends The Summit of Greatness this year, we’re going to try to create the biggest group hug possible. And maybe one year we’ll be able to do the biggest, we’ll create out own world record for the biggest group hug. That’s what I want to create.
So I want to see you guys there, summitofgreatness.com! Make sure you get your ticket for the event in October. A big thank you, again, to DigKid. If you guys haven’t left your review yet, you can do that on the podcast app on your phone, or go to School of Greatness over on iTunes and leave one there.
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Alright, guys, I’m excited about this one, this is a big one, get ready to train your mind to be able to become superhuman and achieve the impossible, with Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence.
Welcome back, everyone, to The School of Greatness Podcast! We’ve go the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence in the house! Good to see you, man!
James Lawrence: Good to be here!
Lewis Howes: Excited about this one! You did something crazy a few years ago. Let me make sure I got it right, 50 Iron Mans, in 50 States, in 50 days, is that right?
James Lawrence: Correct.
Lewis Howes: Fifty Iron Man triathlons, is that what it’s called?
James Lawrence: Yeah, so, a triathlon is anything swim, bike and run, Iron Man is a brand, it is as full distance triathlon, and so we cover the distance of a full distance triathlon every day for fifty days, which is seven weeks, and then we did one in every State. And so, for seven weeks, wake up, do a full distance Iron Man and call it a day.
Lewis Howes: And what’s the distances for the Iron Man?
James Lawrence: So, Iron Mans, or a full distance triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, followed by a standard 26.2 mile marathon run, which totals 140.6 miles, right?
Lewis Howes: In a day.
James Lawrence: In a day. So the entire 50 days, we covered just over 7,000 miles across the country.
Lewis Howes: So a full marathon every day for fifty days, by itself, is a lot, but you added a hundred and something mile bike and a two mile plus swim?
James Lawrence: Correct, yeah.
Lewis Howes: And on one of the days you took a kid with you, right? Who has cerebral palsy, and you swam with him, he trailed in the back in a little tow boat thing, you biked with him, and you ran with him, right?
James Lawrence: Right, yeah.
Lewis Howes: That’s crazy, man!
James Lawrence: So, the whole Dayton story is unique in itself. In 2012, leading up to the 50, I broke the Guinness World Record for the most official Iron Man events in a single calendar year.
Lewis Howes: Thirty?
James Lawrence: Thirty, yup. And in that year, on race 27, is when I spent that day with Dayton and we had some complications, difficulty, it turned into a huge day and we just made the cut-off by less than 25 minutes, and gave him his first Iron Man medal. And so I wanted to kind of have a do-over with Dayton in 2015, when we were doing the 50.
But, I didn’t realise, and I have no idea why I wouldn’t have realised this, but the compounding effect of an Iron Man a day, is insane, right?
Lewis Howes: Yeah, and you did thirty in a year, you had a week off.
James Lawrence: Yeah, exactly, right? So I’m like, “Oh, it should be okay,” but so, by the time we got to Dayton on the 50, day number 7, I’d already torn my shoulder, I was completely exhausted, we were trying to figure out logistics; we’d hit a deer in the middle of the night, coming from Vegas to Arizona, and Dayton shows up and I’m just, panicked. And I don’t know how I’m going to pull him in this day.
And so the wingman, I had two guys full time that were everything to me, Casey and Aaron.
Lewis Howes: For the whole thing?
James Lawrence: Yeah, for the whole 50 days. They came out with me and we called them the wingmen, but they were unbelievable. And so, Casey and Aaron were exhausted as much as I was, because they had to help me all day, and then drive all night, so 24 hours a day, so we’re seven days into this, and they’re exhausted, and they go, because Dayton’s sitting there and I’m like, “I don’t know if I can.”
And Casey goes, “I’ll pull him. I’ll pull him in the swim beside you.” And then Aaron goes, “And I’ll pull him on the bike, and then we’ll do him together on the run.” And so the three of us kind of worked together to get Dayton through this day, because we were so exhausted, seven days in, having no idea how we were going to do this.
And Dayton’s sitting there, right? And he’s excited to do this event, and so we were kind of like, “Okay, how are we going to do this?” And so, it was just a really cool… I still want another do-over with Dayton.
Lewis Howes: By yourself.
James Lawrence: Yeah, for me to do it and have another experience with him. Problem is, he’s almost twenty now, and he’s a big kid. And so, back then in 2012, he was in his teens, and between him and his cart, he still weighed 195lb. So, now, I mean, we’re going to be pushing 250, which adds a ton of complications and things like that.
So, who knows if it will ever happen. I’ve had two real special days with Dayton that I’ll never forget, and one that I got to share with the wingmen and they kind of helped Dayton get through that. So, special moments in my journey I’ve been with him.
Lewis Howes: So, seven days in, you’re thinking to yourself, “What did I get myself into?”
James Lawrence: Oh, on day one I’m thinking, “What did I get myself into?”
Lewis Howes: LIke, “I need a few days to recover.”
James Lawrence: Well, for sure, because the fifty States includes Hawaii and Alaska, and so you have to fly. You have to fly, and sleep on a plane, no recovery. So, the first three events that we did, three full Iron Mans, three days, three States, total six and half hours of sleep, on an aeroplane, right?
And to do the first one, in order to get off the island of Hawaii, into Alaska, we had to start the first one at midnight. So, no sleep going into this project, and then do the first three on no sleep. And so, waking up on day number four, that was kind of the real moment, where you’re like, “Oh my gosh! I have 47 consecutive Iron Mans,” and we have no idea how this is going to happen.
And then, every single day, we were presented with incredible reasons to quit and back out of this.
Lewis Howes: Injury, no sleep, you hit a deer.
James Lawrence: Oh, man, logistics, it just, you hit a deer in the middle of the night, it takes out your generator and you can no longer take food with you because your fridge is gone. That’s not something you plan for on day six, to have no solution for food. And, I mean, I’ve got to feed a crew and 12,000 calories a day for me, I mean, where are you getting your food?
Because everything became so minute to minute and chaotic to solve this problem, early. And so, just things compounded immediately out of the gates on day one and then it just was like, this master problem of how to problem solve.
Lewis Howes: The universe was telling you, you should quit, you should give up, you should stop, you’re crazy, don’t do this.
James Lawrence: Yeah.
Lewis Howes: So, why did you, how did you push through and why did you continue?
James Lawrence: It wasn’t even an option, it wasn’t even on the table. We were all in, as a team. A lot of people don’t know this about my story, it’s in the book, Redefine Impossible, but in 2008, I owned a mortgage company, and then we lost everything
Lewis Howes: Like every mortgage broker.
James Lawrence: Exactly, I’m not unique in that scenario, but it hit our sector incredibly hard and we fought for two years, trying to recoup and just ended up losing everything. Which was really hard for me as a father, as a husband, as a provider, right? I’ve got five kids, and just to be diminished, to nothing.
And so, this was a rebuild, this was an opportunity to do something where I had passion about, and hopefully had impact, and get people to shift their mindsets. And so, when I’m sitting there and everything’s saying quit, for me it wasn’t an option, and I had to figure out a way to continue to move this forward.
Because I knew, if we got to the other side of this, doors would open up. Opportunities would change, and I’d been shoved into this – trust me, I’m not a designed motivational speaker, that’s Tony Robbins, that’s his jam, right? – but the demand for it and what we had was so on the far side of possibility.
Lewis Howes: Extreme.
James Lawrence: Extreme, yeah, that it’s just really pushed and navigated us towards doing this as a career. And from stage I talk about becoming uncomfortable intentionally. And that’s how you adapt and evolve and you grow and you learn. And, for me, people always ask, like, “What’s next?” and I’m like, “Dude, hey! There’s no physical and mental ‘next’, like that was it!”
And for me, now, it’s getting up on stage and doing these podcasts, this is me becoming uncomfortable intentionally, so that I can impact people and help them get unstuck from the current situation that they’re in. And so, that was a huge driving factor for us.
Lewis Howes: You knew, on the other side of pain,
James Lawrence: On the other side of these seven weeks, is a new life, is a new opportunity, is the gateway to our family having an opportunity to impact and help people. And ultimately, that’s what a massive driving force to this was, and man, we have been humbled.
I mean, just last year, travelled to thirty countries, sharing the message and the story. People are just craving it. And the messages that we get now, after somebody has felt part of our journey, and the changes that they’re making, it’s so humbling and so gratifying and what wakes me up every day and makes me want to keep driving.
Lewis Howes: That’s great, yeah! How long does it take, on average, to finish the Iron Man triathlon?
James Lawrence: So, on a world stage?
Lewis Howes: For you.
James Lawrence: For me, okay. So, anything under ten hours, is a great day for me.
Lewis Howes: If you’re doing fifty in a row?
James Lawrence: Fifty in a row you’re talking 14 to 17 hours.
Lewis Howes: Okay, but if you’re doing one, you’re fresh, you’ve had a month of training?
James Lawrence: Nine something.
Lewis Howes: Nine something, is like, your best. And what’s the world record?
James Lawrence: The world record is just set again, it’s just under 8 hours. At the World Championships, the pros at a professional level in the prime of their career, 08:03:00 to 08:05:00, they’re right in there somewhere.
Lewis Howes: Wow, and you’re doing nine on a great day, which is still incredible! The average athlete is doing twenty, probably.
James Lawrence: Fourteen. The time cap is seventeen, they cut you off at seventeen, they close the course, you’re done. And so, your majority of the field is coming in thirteen, fourteen, fifteen hours. That’s kind of like, I’ve done it. Benchmarks are to break twelve, break ten, break nine. Big benchmarks.
Lewis Howes: So you’ve really got to pace yourself when you’re doing fifty in a row.
James Lawrence: Oh, it’s a totally different game.
Lewis Howes: It’s a slow game.
James Lawrence: It’s a slow game, it’s a big picture, and a lot of people don’t have that, right? They just go out of the gate and implode.
Lewis Howes: “Get me through this thing!”
James Lawrence: Yeah, guys try to do this type of thing all the time and they don’t understand what it takes and how durable you have to be and what type of athlete you have to be. We were heavily criticised for the amount of strength training we did, leading up to the 50. They’re like, “Dude, this is a 50 day endurance training, what are you doing power lifting for that?”
Lewis Howes: You had to, though.
James Lawrence: Absolutely, but they don’t understand. Look, the way to get injured is to not do physical strength. I had to go into the 50 kind of like as a lineman, knowing that I was going to be just weighed down and there was no recovery on the 50, it was a matter of holding on and staying mentally sharp and we averaged four hours of sleep a night. You don’t recover in four hours of sleep a night.
Lewis Howes: How does your body get through it?
James Lawrence: Exactly, no, it doesn’t get through it, the only way you can get through it is if you’re strong enough. So guys try this all the time and they get sidelined with ligament injuries and tendons and stress fractures and all these things.
Lewis Howes: And then you’re done.
James Lawrence: And then you’re done, you physically can’t do it. And it’s not a matter of pain, it’s just that, if a ligament snaps, like if you snap an Achilles, you’re done. I don’t care how mentally tough you are and whatever, that’s something you can’t overcome.
I crashed on the bike on day 18. I fell asleep on my bike and crashed, but because I was durable enough, I didn’t break my collar bones, I didn’t snap an arm, I was able to navigate and fight through the pain and teach my body, “Look, we’re going to do an Iron Man tomorrow, and so you’ve got to figure out how to heal during this process.”
And so, even during training, as we were building strength, when something would come up, I didn’t take the time off, I put a great team around me, and I was like, “Look, I have to teach my body to adapt while under stress.
If I teach my body that, when it presents pain to me, that I’m going to stop, it’s going to go, “Okay, as soon as I present pain, he’s going to back off.” Right? And so, I had to teach my body, “Look, you are going to show me pain, but I am going to teach you and you have to recoup and recover, because we have to do it again tomorrow.
And it got to the point where my body was becoming so efficient, that it craved doing an Iron Man, the single hardest event in sports, my body craved wanting to do it.
Lewis Howes: It started to recover quick, and say, “When are we going next?”
James Lawrence: Yeah, as soon as I stopped, it said, “I have four hours. I have four hours and he’s going to go again.
Lewis Howes: It’s got to regenerate, it’s got to be strong, you’ve got to be awake and alert.
James Lawrence: Yeah, what people don’t realise is, by giving my body an opportunity to recoup, recover and force it into adaptation, my last twenty in a year of fifty, where they said it was impossible, were my fastest twenty.
Lewis Howes: Wow! I believe it, though.
James Lawrence: For sure.
Lewis Howes: I believe it. I mean, as a decathlete, I remember my first decathlon in college. It took me, like, two weeks to recover, and this is a two-day event, ten events. It’s not as extreme as a fourteen hour Iron Man triathlon, but, for me, it’s extreme in the sense that it’s a lot of explosion, it’s the fastest you can go, the most power, the most jumping you can do.
James Lawrence: Oh, decathlon, that’s a tough job.
Lewis Howes: It’s a whole other type of using your body, and I was just, I mean, in my bed for two weeks just barely jogging, to recover, and every month I would do another one, and it got a little easier. And I remember, I needed to make the cut to qualify for the national championships, they only take the top 16 in the country.
And my score was at, like, 20, so I knew that I had to do another decathlon, about five days before the national championships, to give myself a chance of making this. And I’d do this, I’d do like back-to-back weekends, and I’d just train my body more and more to recover faster that I was stronger every time I did that.
And when I did the back-to-back weeks, it was like I was even strong the next time, with four days recovery, going into the next decathlon. Initially, right when I started, it was, like, “Man, I feel tired!” But after the first event, it was like my body kicked into recovery mode. It’s kind of like, when you go to the gym and you do a hard leg day, then two days later you can barely walk.
James Lawrence: Yeah, or sit on the toilet.
Lewis Howes: Or do barely anything, but you do more legs again, and you’re like, “How am I going to do this?” But after a few minutes, your body, like, the soreness goes away.
James Lawrence: Yeah, and the hardest thing is to get back in the gym after a long break, because you’re like, “Man, I am going to be so sore,” but once you get through that and then you can, like, perfect example is riding a bike. I could do, when I was at the peak of my training, six hours in the saddle, it was nothing.
And then, after taking two years off, being forced to recover and being on these tours, I go do a two-hour workout, I’m on a bike now, and I’m like, “Holy cow, I took for granted the conditioning that you get into and what that looks like.”
Because, when we announced the 50, I was just coming off the 30, I was in peak condition, it was literally the next logical step for me. And when we announced it, we were mocked and ridiculed, because they could not comprehend that it was even possible.
And I couldn’t comprehend why they didn’t think it was, because, from where I was sitting the progression was…
Lewis Howes: You just took thirty.
James Lawrence: I had just done thirty.
Lewis Howes: In a year!
James Lawrence: In a year.
Lewis Howes: So, fifty in fifty days is quite…
James Lawrence: It is still crazy, but for me, in my mind, it wasn’t that big of a leap. But for the person who has a hard time conceptualising 5K?
Lewis Howes: They’re like, “You’re crazy!”
James Lawrence: Yeah, it’s not possible, and I get that.
Lewis Howes: When did you do your first Iron Man triathlon?
James Lawrence: So, I got into triathlon with my wife, about twelve years ago, and we started just doing the sprints, the real fast, short triathlon, which is so fun! And I’m actually excited to get back into doing the short distance explosive stuff, but I did my first Iron Man distance in 2008, and so I think I was 32.
And then it just escalated really quick.
Lewis Howes: You got hooked, you were addicted!
James Lawrence: I got hooked, and what’s unique about the longer distances, there’s so much more that goes into it, it’s not just swimming, biking and running. It’s, “Can I master recovery? Can I master preparation? Can I master the mental side of stuff? Can I plan properly?” And the nutrition component is so key, and so it became, I’ve got to master five or six different categories in order to excel at this sport, and now I’ve done ninety, ninety Iron Mans.
And still the distance scares me, because there’s so many unknowns. Like, this sport and this distance, just demands so much respect. I always laugh on the inside when someone hasn’t done an Iron Man and then they do their first, and then I’ll get a message that says, “What you did was unbelievable, but I didn’t truly understand what it was until I did one. And there is no way I was waking up tomorrow and doing another one.”
That’s just some of the greatest compliments I can get, when somebody puts it into perspective and has had an experience, and then it’s just like, “Oh, man! What you did was a whole other level.”
Lewis Howes: I’ve never done a half-marathon, I mean, if I did that, I know I would be, like, “I’m done!” You know, it’s like, I couldn’t even do this! But I’m sure once you push your body to those limits, it starts to say, “Yeah, you can do another.”
James Lawrence: People see the headline, “Fifty”, right? The story of the 50. They don’t realise the decade that went in, and the groundwork and the foundation that went into that, and then even the past two year is still part of that journey, because it’s the recovery on the back side of that, to get me back to where I’m functioning, right? And I can be a competitive athlete again.
So, it’s not the 50 days, but to back up real quick, though, you were saying about fatigue and adaptation and the decathlon; if I did a journey like this again, which I won’t, but let’s say I was to do a week long challenge, I would almost put myself under pretty intense stress leading up to it, because I want to get through that difficult adaptation phase knowing I’m going to get stronger, right?
I don’t want my first seven days of an intense challenge to be the first seven days.
Lewis Howes: Be fresh.
James Lawrence: Right, there’s a fine balance there, right? There’s a tipping point, where, in training, I’ve got to be conscious of the stress load that needs to be put on and people are like, “Nah, you want to take that time off, and do this and that,” and you’re forgetting that that first week traumatising.
For me it was day 30! How many people quit before thirty consecutive Iron Mans, before mind and body come into sync? Everybody, 99.9% of people quit. I’m telling you, when mind and body come into harmony, that’s when magic happens! Everybody’s missing out on the magic!
Because they quit, because it’s too hard, because they don’t allow that adaptation. You have to learn that the next step isn’t going to kill you. And it’s in that next step that you learn. You adapt, you grow, you evolve! But we quit before that moment, and very few people get the opportunity to experience what our team did, thirty through fifty, to a day when an Iron Man became routine.
Lewis Howes: What was the greatest lesson you learned from all fifty?
James Lawrence: Ah, man, mankind is alive and well, and people can shift, and it’s okay to change your mind about a person. And the amount of people that came out and helped us; nothing great ever is accomplished on our own, right? I had a great team behind me, I had a nation, and now a globe that has come out and supported what we’ve done.
I want to give back, I want to continue to share this story, because of the impact that it’s having. And so, the biggest thing that I learned, is, mankind is cool, and to go around thirty countries, we’re unified, to not listen to the other crazy stuff that’s going on in the world, and just connect with people, and I think a lot of people are scared and don’t do that, and again, they’re missing out on really cool experiences.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, now you said something really cool that I love and I have been talking about since high school, is really putting yourself in uncomfortable situations as often as possible. Like, demanding pain every single day, in a safe environment, right? Not asking, like, “Someone break my arm,” type of pain, but putting your body through a type of stress that your mind says, “No.”
Why do you think that’s such an important thing for every human to do? And what’s the best way, in your mind, that we could do that every single day?
James Lawrence: We’re either moving forward, or [regressing]. We’re never just standing still, right? So the longer we stay in our little comfort, happy zone, we’re eventually going to start to go backwards, and so, this concept of intentionally doing something difficult, is a thing of beauty.
When we started to run into situations where we were faced with adversity and what not, early on, I was, like, “Yes! This is great, challenge us right now! Because, we’re strong, mentally we’re tough, right now. And that perseverance and resilience that we’re going to gain right now, man, I can’t tell you how much we’re going to need that in the back half of this thing.”
And so, when we were up against it early on, I was like, “Yeah, this is great! We need to learn this stuff now, quick! We don’t have time, this learning curve has got to be accelerated!” And so, I think people need to embrace challenges. It forces you to think, and when you’re back into a corner, and even though you can hit the panic button, and choose not to see it, that’s when you’re going to solve the biggest problems.
I mean, when we lost everything, in 2008, I was either going to be complacent or I was going to face some challenges, some demons and fears, and come out on the other side of that. Looking back, that was the best thing that ever could have happened to us. It forced me to challenge. I would have never done this, I would still be miserable, writing mortgage loans, right? And just sucking at life!
And so, because that happened, it forced me into a scenario where I had to become a problem solver. It’s such a blessing! I wish more people would hit rock bottom, because it helps them realise that, “Look, I can do so much more!”
Lewis Howes: Yeah. What’s something that we can do on a daily basis to help us increase our mental toughness, or put ourselves through challenge or pain? That’s not going to kill us?
James Lawrence: Yeah, you know, everybody’s going to be different. I talk about how everybody’s ‘hard’ is different.
Lewis Howes: Everyone’s ‘hard’?
James Lawrence: Everybody’s ‘hard’ is different.
Lewis Howes: What’s hard for you, might be easy for me or vice versa.
James Lawrence: Right, and it’s hard to also say, “Hey, this is what you need to do,” because where are you at your journey? At the beginning? Middle? End? Are you approaching a different realm that anybody else is? So, for you, or anybody else, it’s just, write down your ten biggest fears, and then let’s find the least scary of those ten, and then break it into ten categories, and then let’s attack that.
And then overcome these at such a small level. And then as you start to have these small victories – success breeds success, confidence breeds confidence – and as soon as we have these small breakthroughs, now we can start attacking your bigger fears, right?
Whatever your fears are, whatever your ‘hard’ is, we’ve got to isolate that, you’ve got to be conscious, you’ve got to have some conversations with yourself, that’s the only way and individual is going to find out, “What scares me? What’s holding me back? What is going to be the best version of me, and how do I find that?” And so you have to engage with these conversations.
That’s why I love riding my bike, because it’s me, my brain, and just allowing thoughts to process. And so, I either come home with some of my worst ideas or best ideas, after my bike ride. My wife gets scared when I do these long rides. It’s in those moments that you’re going to say, “Look, what are my fears? How am I going to overcome those?”
And then we have to break those down and go, “Look, how do I overcome this smallest of small?” and then as you progress, next thing you’re going to wake up and go, “Man, that’s not scary any more!” And, “I’ve grown as a person, I’m a better individual. And as you continue to do that process, you’re going to wake up one day, and you’re going to go, “Man, I’ve come a long ways!”
Lewis Howes: Yeah. What was your greatest fear, growing up?
James Lawrence: Great question! As a father, my biggest fear is not being the best person I can for them, right? I’ve got five kids, and four of them are girls, and so it’s just this massive responsibility. I want to create, or help influence these girls to be tough individuals that can handle their own, I mean, it’s tough out there, especially for women. I mean, it’s a dog fight, and I want them to have resilience and to be tough and to be confident with who they are and to be themselves.
And so, I think one of my biggest fears is letting them down, and letting my wife down, because she does such an unbelievable job with the kids, and she’s very present. We hold a high value on her being home. She wants to be a mom and be really engaged with these kids, as do I, but I also have to provide and so that includes some travel.
But I think one of my biggest fears is, not doing everything I can to give them a shot at being successful, or allowing them to suffer and struggle and giving them the tools to not be complacent or too comfortable. To push them mentally and physically, because I think, I love this generation, I think they’re super powerful, it’s the fault of my generation that we’re being too soft on these kids and crippling them.
And once they go away to college, they’re like, “I don’t know how to do this on my own!” So, my fear is, I don’t want to put my kids in that situation.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. Your greatest advice so far is to say, you hope everyone hits rock bottom.
James Lawrence: Absolutely!
Lewis Howes: So, how do you set that up for your kids, where you don’t want to see them suffer, because you just want to protect them and love them and hug them, but you also know…
James Lawrence: To love them at the highest level is to allow them to suffer. And to not pick them up when they fall, right? That is the greatest show of love. It’s super hard to do, because we want to give them everything. It’s hard for people that don’t have kids to understand the level of unconditional love, or the connection you have with a child.
It’s hard, but it’s something I think you need to do, the highest show of love is to allow them to suffer, and to learn and grow and adapt.
Lewis Howes: What does that look like for you, as a dad? How do you let your daughters suffer?
James Lawrence: It’s so hard! They’re in such an innocent age range right now. Fifteen, fourteen, twelve and ten are my girls, and just to…
Lewis Howes: They’re just suffering in high school already!
James Lawrence: I mean, it’s junior high and high school! It’s such a transitional difficult age, it’s awkward, it’s hard, kids are ruthless, it’s so hard not to be like Mama Bear and Papa Bear here and we’re going to protect you. We just allow them, and we give them guidance and we try to steer and set an example.
And I love that some people in our lives are just dumpsterfiers, because they’re great teaching points for our kids, because we’re like, “Look at this, this is a path you don’t want to go on,” and we’ll use this as an example, and my kids are, like, “Yeah! I don’t want that!” And then hopefully we can just guide them and put them in the right spots.
Lewis Howes: What’s the greatest personal struggle you’ve ever faced?
James Lawrence: Man, probably just as a husband and father, to lose everything. Just the last decade has been so hard on my wife and my kids. They’ve been so supportive, to go all in and kind of push all the chips in the pot. It’s been super hard to go through that, and I think that’s part of the reason why I succeeded, because I put these guys through so much.
Lewis Howes: You had to complete it.
James Lawrence: I had to complete it, like, I remember lying on the side of the road on day 30, just in tears and I was just, like, “It’s just 20 more days. Figure out how to be perfect a minute at a time, and let go of everything. It’s okay to be selfish for the next twenty days, because if you’re not, the last decade was a complete waste, and you’re going to have to restart over, and now how much more sacrifice is going to be?”
And so, you start to put moments into perspective. And that moment, of me lying on the side of the road was probably eight minutes, it was an eight minute intense conversation with myself, where I was just – it’s like you hear, when you die, everything is going to flash through and you’re going to see your whole life – in those eight minutes, everything that we’d done and sacrificed up to that point kind of like rushed through.
And I had to make a decision, “What am I going to do? And what does it look like in the next twenty days? And how do we conceptualise and make that breakthrough, to get to that next point?”
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Now, let’s get back to the conversation.
Lewis Howes: At hour seven on twenty days or thirty days in, in hour seven of the day, biking, running, whatever it is, what are you thinking about for those long stretches, and maybe it’s just you on the road, no one’s with you, no one’s cheering at you, what do you think about to just get you through the next hour and a whole day? What’s the conversation you’re having or not having?
James Lawrence: Yeah, definitely the conversation you’re having, seven hours into a fourteen hour day, you’re halfway, maybe, especially in the journey where it’s seven weeks long. Before you start counting down, you’re at race twenty, and so those conversations are intense, man, you can think of a million reasons to stop moving. But I think that was one of the coolest things that I got to experience on the 50, was those long conversations I got to have with myself.
I think it was one of the most incredible by-products that happened to me, and I think people are so distracted and with everything that’s going on, we’ve missed and opportunity to sit down and talk with ourselves, and to self-reflect.
When was the last time anybody asked themselves who they wanted to be? When was the last time somebody asked themselves, “Have I forgiven myself for my past? Am I still carrying burdens? Am I still carrying conversations in my head, from a decade ago?” Why don’t we replace that energy with something else?
And on the 50, I got to have every conversation! I mean, I had fifty really long conversations with myself. I got to forgive myself for everything in the past, I got to plan my entire future, and now I get to continue to try to be the best version of myself. I’m not perfect, I struggle every single day, like everybody else, but I just try to wake up, I try to put my feet on the ground and I just try to go to work.
And I think, if people can just, in those conversations, I wasn’t thinking, “What’s tomorrow going to look like? What’s the run going to look like tonight?” I’m worried about being perfect for the next 60 seconds. To get through those last thirty, it was literally 60 second periods.
And if I could put together a perfect 60 seconds, I had a shot at putting together a perfect hour; if I had a perfect hour I could put together a perfect day; if I had a perfect day, I could put together a perfect 20. That’s how I got through, but in those moments I was never thinking, I’d gone through the entire thought process in the first thirty days, and now it was, “Okay, now you’re the Iron Cowboy. Now this is a rebirth, this in an alter ego.”
And when I put on my glasses, I was the Iron Cowboy, I wasn’t James Lawrence, I was the Iron Cowboy. And that dude’s a bad, bad man, right? And so, as people we need to figure out what our alter ego is, because when things get most difficult, when we’re backed into a corner, what are you going to do?
What’s your superpower? Who is it that’s going to do it? And that’s who the Iron Cowboy is. That’s who that dude is. He’s the guy that, he’s been backed into a corner and he’s got to be self assured, so that he can take care of everything in that moment, so that it’ll open up.
You got to take care of yourself before you can take care of anybody else. So, for those twenty, I had to become the Iron Cowboy so that I could take care of my family the rest of my life.
Lewis Howes: The last twenty.
James Lawrence: Yeah, the last twenty.
Lewis Howes: Was the conversations you were having, more about forgiveness or the future you wanted to create?
James Lawrence: I think you need a healthy balance of both. You have to forgive yourself in order to progress, right? So, that’s got to be step number one: forgiveness.
Lewis Howes: What was the hardest thing you ever had to forgive yourself for?
James Lawrence: You have to have a short term memory, too. You have to have a short term memory and be okay with not holding on. Real quick, one of the best books that I read was by Eckhart Tolle, it’s all about ego and the conversations you’re having with yourself that nobody else is having and you’re just beating yourself up, and we need to deal with it, replace it and move on, right?
One of the toughest things I had to forgive myself for? I think just putting my family through what we did, and it wasn’t my fault, but when we lost everything, I took that personally. That was a huge responsibly for me, and we had five little, little kids. And the decisions I made after that, they were on me, and it was just really hard, even though it wasn’t a mistake, and I don’t regret it, it’s put us where we are today, it was just hard to forgive myself.
I mean, my kids didn’t know any different, my wife did an unbelievable job, it’s more for my wife, Sunny, forgiving myself for putting her through that, but we’re ultimate support for each other. It’s still something I struggle with, because I want to give her everything, right? And so, that’s why I’m working so hard today.
And we’re building a house now, and just got some stability, which is great.
Lewis Howes: That’s good! But you got to let her suffer, you said. A little bit of suffering, a little bit of suffering.
James Lawrence: That’s true, I’m not the guy to teach her lessons, though. That’s not my job.
Lewis Howes: Exactly! You’re the guy to be there for her. You’re there to teach your daughters lessons.
James Lawrence: Yeah, that’s right, that’s my job.
Lewis Howes: Now it’s interesting you talk about the alter ego, because do you think you would have been able to complete it without an alter ego?
James Lawrence: No.
Lewis Howes: Why not?
James Lawrence: Well, because we’re all human, right?
Lewis Howes: You were too weak.
James Lawrence: We’re too weak. Your alter ego is the superpower part of who we are. It’s the perfect model of our imperfection, and without an alter ego in those most difficult situations, you hear these incredible stories of survival, life and death, somebody was able to do some heroic thing. That’s their alter ego coming out in a life or death situation, they’ve been backed so far into a corner, that their alter ego has to come out.
And so I think everybody needs to find that alter ego, because if you’re on a journey and you’re truly trying to progress and do really cool things and just grow as a person, there’s going to be a moment when you lie on the side of the road and you need your alter ego to kind of bust through and do that.
But again, it goes back to, you can’t develop the alter ego unless you intentionally put yourself in situations and do difficult things and sharpen that mental toolbox, right? So it all goes all the way back to doing difficult things and not being stuck, so that you can develop the alter ego, so when you put yourself in a situation, you’re backed into a corner and the world’s against you, is that person there, ready, to take on that moment?
Lewis Howes: Wow! So when did you develop the Iron Cowboy as your alter ego?
James Lawrence: It became a brand in 2012 during the world record. I would wear a cowboy hat during the marathon portions, so my kids could see me coming. And they got to pick my colourful cowboy hats and it’s a family, kid thing that was great.
It was a brand on day thirty, is when it actually became the alter ego, when I had sharpened the toolbox enough. And the Iron Cowboy is just symbolic of the alter ego, right? But I truly believe, that on day 30, in Connecticut, on the side of the road, it was that rebirth, and the real Iron Cowboy was born on that day. And on that day in Connecticut, and for the next twenty days, that was the highest level of showcasing the Iron Cowboy.
Lewis Howes: Where does your mind go when you turn on the switch? How does it know when to connect the switch to, “I’m James starting out the Iron Man, four hours in,” to, “This is getting really frikkin’ tough, I can’t allow weakness to take over my mind right now, so I’m flipping the switch to the ego.”?
James Lawrence: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a flip that you consciously switch. I think it’s something like fight or flight, and once you get good at it, or practice it, you don’t see the moment as, “Okay, I need to flip it.”
Lewis Howes: You’re just in the zone.
James Lawrence: it just transitions and next thing you know, boom! I’m in it and I’m doing it. That’s what I talked about earlier, when the mind and the body come into sync with each other, right? That’s a special place. It’s like anything else, you have to practice that and get it.
And people are like, “How do I flip the switch?” I’m like, “You’ve just got to practice it, and it’s just going to happen, and you’ll know when it happens, and you’ll be the baddest person on the planet.”
Lewis Howes: Yeah, you’ll believe that nothing can stop you.
James Lawrence: Nothing can stop you, and during those twenty days, it was going to take an act of God to stop us.
Lewis Howes: Good thing it didn’t! Now, how much resistance training, or mental toughness training, or just pushing through the pain, constantly, do you think it took for you in order for that to come out, where you define this alter ego? How many years of training?
James Lawrence: How many years? You know, I truly believe that it was over two decades.
Lewis Howes: Before the alter ego came?
James Lawrence: For sure.
Lewis Howes: So you were just a human?
James Lawrence: I’m still just a human!
Lewis Howes: I mean, but you were just a human training the whole time?
James Lawrence: For sure. I grew up wrestling, that’s six plus years of just intense, that was everything I did, and I learned a ton, physically, but mentally, I had to overcome that. I mean, I was a horrible wrestler when I first started, and then went undefeated in my senior year, and so, just learned a ton.
I tell a fun story in the book, about a contest in Calgary, called the Calgary Stampede, because that’s where I grew up, there was a contest to see who could ride the giant Ferris wheel for the ten day stampede. And it was in those ten days that their goal was absolute boredom. You couldn’t do anything on the ride.
Lewis Howes: Ten days…
James Lawrence: On a giant Ferris wheel.
Lewis Howes: Never leaving?
James Lawrence: You had two ten minute breaks. And so I learned a ton about myself, mentally in those ten days.
Lewis Howes: Wait, you did this?
James Lawrence: Yeah.
Lewis Howes: For ten days?
James Lawrence: Correct.
Lewis Howes: With two ten minute breaks?
James Lawrence: A day, yeah. Two ten minute breaks a day for ten days.
Lewis Howes: To go to the bathroom or something, yeah!
James Lawrence: Yeah, and eat food, because you couldn’t eat on the ride, so you had to go to the bathroom and eat food, two ten minute breaks a day.
Lewis Howes: Shut up!
James Lawrence: So, I learned a ton.
Lewis Howes: You slept on it?
James Lawrence: Yeah. They would stop it at night and you would sleep. So I learned, during those ten days, like look, I’ve been sharpening a mental toolbox for my whole wrestling career, now I really honed in on this, and that was a special ten days. That was kind of where I transitioned, I had one friend in Utah, I had won some money, and I had got fired from my job, and so I hitched a ride and had one friend in Utah, ended up meeting my wife, and still lived in Utah, ten years later.
But that was a massive turning point for me, but it was not only a pivot in my life that changed the direction, it was the first early signs that, “Look, you’ve got control of your mind.” Last night Rich Roll posed the question, “Are you born with it? Or can you develop it?” Right?
Lewis Howes: What specifically?
James Lawrence: Mentally, mental toughness. Are you born with it, is it innate, or can you develop it? I think everybody’s born with a certain amount, right? We all have different talents, but you can have the most talented person in the world that doesn’t develop it and they’re useless. It’s not a skill that they have.
And you can take someone who has a small bit of genetic talent in a category, and work their tails off, right? There was a kid, growing up, wrestling, and he was a horrible, horrible wrestler. And I was like, “This kid is never going to amount to anything,” and he just had the smallest amount of talent.
He showed up, and out worked everybody. And I came back to the club years later, and he won the National Championship. National Championship! And there was no way I would ever have said that this kid was going to do that. If you have a work ethic, you can overcome talent.
Now, the perfect storm and the people that are at the highest level, have got talent and work ethic.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, like LeBraun James.
James Lawrence: Oh, that guy’s just a genetic freak!
Lewis Howes: He’s a freak, but he works so hard.
James Lawrence: But he works hard, and he understands… he is a guy, Simone Biles, Shaquille O’Niell, Michael Phelps, LeBraun James, Michael Jordan, all these guys, born with talent, were put in a situation and were given… and worked harder than everybody else. That’s your perfect storm, that’s your superstar, that’s your Conor McGregor, these are these icons that have changed and transcended their sport, right? Gift, plus hard work.
But, same thing you take a guy with a gift who doesn’t know how to work hard? Useless. You take a guy that has a little talent and can work hard? He can turn into something special. I believe I fall into that category.
I crossed the finish line and they went, “You’re gifted, you’re special!” and I’m like, “Dude, I’m not, I’m normal.” and they said, “No, we’re going to test you.” And they put me through a series of tests, and they came back and I’m like, “I’m normal, right, dude? Right?” But what they couldn’t test was my mind, my strength, my power, my ability to show up every day.
I love Conor McGregor’s quote as saying, “You’re not looking at talent, you’re looking at obsession.” Our group was obsessed in what we were trying to do, and we showed up every single day. Conor McGregor, after he won the title, he said, “Doubt me now!” Put your feet on the ground, wake up every single morning and say, “Doubt me now!”
You don’t have to know how you’re getting to your destination, put your feet on the ground and say, put on your glasses and say, “Doubt me now!” And just go to work, hard work can beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard. And I find myself in that situation.
Lewis Howes: Yeah. Do you feel like you’ve done certain things to prove to people, anything?
James Lawrence: I don’t care what anybody thinks any more.
Lewis Howes: But, growing up, was this a thing where you needed to prove someone wrong, or prove…?
James Lawrence: Day 30, is when I had a massive shift. It was the moment I stopped trying to prove everybody else wrong, and I started to prove myself right.
Lewis Howes: That’s the key!
James Lawrence: Once I let everything go, and focussed on what I was doing, and I was like, “Look, dude, I don’t care what your agenda is, because it doesn’t matter. I’m here to prove myself right. I’m here to prove that when I reach my mental and physical limits, what’s the Iron Cowboy going to do?”
This is what this whole journey was about, what am I going to do, when I’m backed into a corner, and I could have locked up and gone home, on day thirty, but what am I going to do? Am I going to do what I say I’m going to do? Am I going to get up and do twenty more? So, I’m just going to stop proving everybody else wrong, and start proving myself right.
Lewis Howes: How did it feel, after that?
James Lawrence: Unbelievable!
Lewis Howes: You said you had your faster times at the end?
James Lawrence: Last twenty.
Lewis Howes: Did you feel relaxed and less stressed?
James Lawrence: Less stressed. I stopped focussing on everything that I couldn’t control. I allowed my team to be the role players they were supposed to be. Handle your business, handle your business, and allow the team you’ve assembled handle their jobs. That’s when it works, right? Stop trying to do everyone else’s job, own your space, trust the people around you, stop focussing on it and worrying about it, and put all the energy into the next 60 seconds of being perfect.
That was that moment when mind and body cam into alignment.
Lewis Howes: Wow! When did you realise that? What was the trigger for you to think that way? That you don’t have to prove anyone wrong any more?
James Lawrence: Lying on the side of the road, focussing on all the negativity on social media, just the backlash that we were getting, about decisions we were making. Dude, you don’t have the right to criticise what I’m doing until you’ve done 30 consecutive Iron Mans, until you’re in that position. Only then, will I allow you to criticise.
Lewis Howes: Share some feedback!
James Lawrence: Share some feedback. Do something even close, then criticise me. You know, the famous quote, “Don’t judge a man unless you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” Don’t judge me unless you’ve done thirty consecutive Iron Mans, now we can start to have a conversation, right? Decisions that I make are decisions that I’m making for the best cause.
The documentary about Iron Man just came out on Amazon Prime, it’s free if you’re a part of their…
Lewis Howes: What’s it called?
James Lawrence: The Story Of The 50.50.50. People will get a good insight of really what we were dealing with behind the scenes.
Lewis Howes: So you had a film crew the whole time too?
James Lawrence: Yeah, we had a film crew there, and then if you’re not on Amazon Prime, pony up five bucks and watch it on Vimeo, it’s available there, too. And then, of course, we have the book, Redefine Impossible, that kind of dives into all the behind the scenes and the incredible people we met along the way.
Lewis Howes: Do you think if you didn’t have that breakdown on the road for those eight minutes, that you’d still be trying to prove people wrong?
James Lawrence: Yeah, I think so. I needed to learn that lesson, I need to have that mind shift. I needed to let go, I needed to allow the wingmen, to allow Sunny, to allow my kids, to be who they are. And trust was one of the biggest things that I learned, was trust. Trust what you’ve put together, trust the journey you’re on. Trust your intuition, trust your gut.
Dude, it doesn’t matter what other people are thinking, that’s their agenda, that’s their opinion, you’re not going to change people’s minds. You’ve got to do you. And as soon as I was like, “No, dude, I’m here for my family, I’m here for this,” everything changed. I let go and started focussing on the right things, instead of trying to control the things I couldn’t control.
Lewis Howes: It’s funny, until about four years ago and I talk about this on my show, I was always doing things subconsciously to prove people wrong about me. They said I wouldn’t be able to do something, and then I was like, “Let me show you!”
And I would have this alter ego of putting myself through so much pain, just to prove some kids wrong about me, or to prove a teacher, or a coach, or whatever it may be, wrong about me. And I would be willing to sacrifice anything to prove them wrong. Anything, for years!
And I would get big results. I would achieve all those goals, and prove them wrong and be miserable and unhappy. And I was, like, “Why am I so unhappy and ungrateful for what I just achieved?” I was like, “Well, I guess I just need a bigger dream to go after now.
And I would do that for another five years, and achieve that dream, and I’d be, like, “Why am I still not happy?” And it wasn’t until I hit about thirty years old, and it was like, “Man! I’ve been living my life trying to prove everyone wrong.” And it got me to where I’m at, which was some big results, but also a lot of suffering and pain that was unnecessary.
And when I finally said, “You know what? I’m going to do some things because I love it, and I’m going to lift others up,” that’s when everything…
James Lawrence: Your motivation changed.
Lewis Howes: Everything shifted, and I had just as much passion, just as much energy, without the stress and the overwhelm. And so I loved what you talked about, which is, “Let’s prove people right, let’s lift people up and not listen to the negative thoughts of people saying that you can’t achieve that.”
James Lawrence: Well, you know, the thing is you’re not going to change those negative people. They are who they are and they’re on a different journey, they’re not open. And so, why not shift our focus and attention to things that thrive?
Like, I want to talk to people that are vibrating the same way I’m vibrating, right, and I want to bring those people up, and when you want to get on board with this train, come on board, because it’s a lot of fun over here and you can hang out with all the other miserables over there. Because I’m going to do me, and you do you, and we’ll all have a good time doing it.
And, like you said, in the experience you had, everything shifts, when you start doing things and doing them for the right reasons. Everything kind of just falls into place.
Lewis Howes: What’s your mental routine on a daily basis? Is there a certain [set of] practices you go through? Is there reading, is there prayer, is there meditation or something you think about to train your mind every day, still?
James Lawrence: I get this question a lot, and I should maybe come up with a very specific routine.
Lewis Howes: Process.
James Lawrence: Yeah, but I mean, life has just been so , so chaotic. Last year I was in thirty countries, a lot of aeroplanes, a lot of hotels, a lot of in and out. Trying to get into a routine was difficult. One thing that’s been constant is, we’re a religious family, and so to have a faith and to have family, those have been the main constants for us.
So, just waking up every day and being grateful, that’s been the biggest catalyst for me. It’s difficult for me, every day, and I struggle, but to wake up every day and try to be present and try to be grateful and focus on those things, that’s my routine. And as soon as I start, the energy starts to get bad and whatnot, it’s because I’m focussing on the wrong thing.
Things I’m trying to do for other people and prove them wrong and for different reasons. As soon as I get re-centred back, my wife’s kind of great at bringing me back and calling me on the carpet, but when we get back to that spot, of gratitude.
And look, anything we send out, I mean, I’m huge on putting it out there, doing the work and it’s come back to you. When things are going bad, it’s because I’m focusing and sending out just a bad energy.
The reason the 50 was so successful, I was 100, 200, 300% on it. You could not convince me that it wasn’t possible. and I need to put that in all areas of my life and just trust that our gut feeling and our hard work and everything is going to put us exactly where we need to be, and we’re going to attract the things when they need to happen and just go forward with that faith and the belief.
And, for me, just waking up and being consistent, my routine is, when I’m grounded, when I’m around my family, and I’m grateful, and mindful of that, that’s my routine, and everything else just falls into place.
Lewis Howes: Gratitude, that’s the key, man! Gratitude is the key. This is a question that I ask everyone at the end. It’s called, The Three Truths. And so, imagine this is your last day, many years from now, and you get to choose the day that you’re done on this Earth, for all that you know, right?
And you could be 100, you could be 200, it doesn’t matter, you pick the day, but you’ve got to pick a day, and that’s it. And you’ve created incredible things, right? You’ve written tons of books, you’re speaking all over the place, you’ve done everything you wanted to create, all your dreams have come true.
But, for whatever reason, you’ve got to take everything with you. And so, no one has access to any of your information any more. But you have all your family and friends there, it’s a celebration, you’re about to say goodbye, and they give you a piece of paper.
And they say, “We want you to write down the three biggest truths that you know about everything you’ve learned from life, the lessons that you would pass on to us in the world, and this is all we would have of your information,” so you get to write down three things.
What would be your Three Truths?
James Lawrence: Man! These are probably going to be things that I really struggle with, that I work on, so we’ll just start with gratitude. Gratitude is the catalyst to everything, right? It’s how we vibrate. I wish I was more playful and present, and a lot of these are probably real common answers that people have, and as I get older, they will probably change, right?
Be grateful. Be more lighthearted. And be present, just stop worrying about the small things; they’re just a distraction. In the big picture, 99% of everything doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter. And so, I guess that’s it.
Lewis Howes: Would you say you’re not a very playful person?
James Lawrence: It’s surprising, I’m probably more of an introvert. My wife is super playful, right? And I want some, I’m kind of envious of that, and I’m just, I’m not the type of person to get up and dance on a dance floor, I’d rather just observe and watch and kind of be back of the room.
Which is very bizarre, because my on stage persona, people would never, never assume that, which is kind of my alter ego, right? That has to come out in order to have the impact that we want to have.
My authentic self is a playful person, and I think it’s been lost along the way because of the experiences and the loss and heartaches I’ve had and being hard on myself, and the social responsibility that I have to be the Iron Cowboy, right? There’s that whole aspect of it, too, that we never talked about. Just, kind of, the social pressures, and when you show up somewhere and you’re just expected to be…
Lewis Howes: You’ve got to wear the beard, you’ve got to be tough, you’ve got to be that persona.
James Lawrence: Absolutely! All of that! And so it’s almost where I’m not allowed to be playful. I have to be the badass, right?
Lewis Howes: Says who?
James Lawrence: Exactly, right? Who am I trying to impress?
Lewis Howes: Says who?
James Lawrence: See, this has been a great little inclusion, I love that.
Lewis Howes: I’m going to give you a challenge, then, if you accept, if you choose to accept. For the next thirty days in a row, you have to do a 60 second dance party, every single day.
James Lawrence: Can it be just by myself?
Lewis Howes: With someone else, and every time you’re at home, it has to be with someone in your family. Your kids, wife.
James Lawrence: I will do this.
Lewis Howes: And you get to film part of it.
James Lawrence: Okay.
Lewis Howes: Thirty days in a row, with a friend, it could be strangers in the street or speaking on stage, you just get everyone to dance for 60 seconds, as a challenge to yourself to be more playful. This is your truth, that I’m going to challenge you! Do you accept, or no?
James Lawrence: I accept.
Lewis Howes: You accept? Thirty days?
James Lawrence: Thirty days.
Lewis Howes: You’re going to text me at the end of thirty days, and let me know that you completed all thirty.
James Lawrence: Okay.
Lewis Howes: And if you didn’t complete all thirty, if you miss a day, what’s the consequence for you? What’s the stake?
James Lawrence: Man! That’s a good one!
Lewis Howes: Sixty seconds! Sixty seconds! You can do anything for sixty seconds!
James Lawrence: Exactly, I talk about ‘the perfect minute’. This is going to be fun!
Lewis Howes: That’s it!
James Lawrence: What’s the stake? You’ll have to tell me, I’ll do whatever.
Lewis Howes: We’ll figure it out.
James Lawrence: We’ll figure it out.
Lewis Howes: You have to do a thousand push-ups, a day, each time you miss a day. A thousand push-ups.
James Lawrence: Okay, I’ll do that.
Lewis Howes: Have you ever done a thousand push-ups in a day?
James Lawrence: I have, yeah.
Lewis Howes: It probably takes, how long, a couple of hours?
James Lawrence: It does, it takes a couple of hours. I remember doing it with a bunch of my wrestling buddies. We put on a movie, and we would just do sets of ten push-ups until we hit a thousand.
Lewis Howes: It would take, like, two hours, or something.
James Lawrence: It did, yeah, it takes a couple of hours.
Lewis Howes: So you have to do a thousand push-ups if you miss a sixty second dance party, every day.
James Lawrence: Done.
Lewis Howes: For thirty days. You have to videotape them, too. Document it. Okay, perfect! Are there any questions you have for me, before I ask the final couple of questions?
James Lawrence: No.
Lewis Howes: Okay, well, make sure you guys get this book, it’s called, Iron Cowboy: Redefine Impossible. The story of fifty Iron Man triathlons, in fifty days, in fifty different States. There’s also a documentary, called The Story Of The 50.50.50. on Amazon right now. You’re on social media?
James Lawrence: @ironcowboyjames
Lewis Howes: @ironcowboyjames on all places on social media. Where do you hang out the most?
James Lawrence: Instagram.
Lewis Howes: Instagram. Before I ask the final question, I want to acknowledge you for a moment, James, for being a symbol of inspiration for so many people, because there’s not many people who are willing to put themselves through that much pain, in order to complete a vision for their life in that short amount of time.
And to do something so audacious, in the mind, that, to everyone seems, crazy, but you know is possible, and to do it, eventually, for yourself and not for anyone else, I think is an incredible inspiration that you learn the process and the lesson of doing it for yourself or for your family, not to prove people wrong in the community.
Also, I want to acknowledge you for your playfulness, because I believe, when you are playful, and you bring out your heart, that’s when you’re going to impact even more people. So, stepping out of the alter ego as much as you can, when you’re around other humans, and giving us your heart, that’s what’s going to be mind blowing! And the most inspirational thing. But I want to acknowledge you for that, and for being so open today and sharing.
Is there any question you wish more people would ask you, that they haven’t?
James Lawrence: I have never had that question. I think people have really asked a lot of questions, again, I’m a more private person than anything else, and so I tend not to think of, “What else can people ask me?”
Lewis Howes: What’s the thing that would help everyone listening or watching right now, that we haven’t shared, that could really help move people forward in their life in some way?
James Lawrence: Forgiveness, whether it’s with you or other people, and stop having those negative conversations with yourself. They’re hypothetical, and they’re holding us back, and so, I think, if people can have those quick conversations and, again, forgive and move forward and be lighthearted, that’s going to be the key.
Lewis Howes: Awesome! Okay, final question: What’s your definition of greatness?
James Lawrence: What’s my definition of greatness? For me, right now, in this space in my life, it’s being an example to my kids. I don’t want to be remembered for the 50, I want to be remembered for being a dad. And it’s cliché, but my kids are young and they’re in an impactful part of their years.
So, greatness, to me, is having my kids, me being a hero to my kids.
Lewis Howes: Love it! James, thank you, man!
James Lawrence: You bet. Thanks!
Lewis Howes: That’s great!
There you have it, my friends! Do you feel like you’re becoming more superhuman, and like you can achieve the impossible, already? After this interview? For me, I feel like I can, and I’ve already agreed to take on an extreme activity that I would never probably do, after listening to James.
For me, he’s inspired me to get out of my comfort zone, even more. Because I push myself hard, I train hard, but I do it in the way that I want to. I put myself through pain in the ways that I want to, and now is the time to challenge myself in other ways and types of pain that I don’t want to. Types of endurance events that I’m not excited about. But I’m going to do one, because he inspired me.
So, let me know what you guys thought of this episode, again, lewishowes.com/653. Share on Instagram, @LewisHowes, all the show notes, the link, the book, the full video interview is back at our website as well, at lewishowes.com.
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I love you guys so very much, and as Maya Angelou said, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
I love you; you know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!