During the awards banquet at a Waikiki Swim Club the idea was born. John Collins, a Naval Officer stationed in Hawai’i and his wife Judy played with it: What if we combine the three toughest endurance races on the island into one race?
Rugged competition. Who would take the title … the swimmers, bikers or runners? United in mission they took Waikiki’s shoreline. On February 18, 1976, fifteen people attacked the first-ever IRONMAN challenge: a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon, 26.2 miles.
Given seventeen hours to complete, imagine finishing in 8 ½ hours. Pushed to their limit, the final strides demanded robot obedience to finish strong.
ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” secured permission to film the event in 1980 and soon the world recognized the IRONMAN. The IRONMAN has evolved into a lifestyle.
While few can claim IRONMAN status, lifetime membership is named after a common metal in the Earth. Iron is highly used because it is very strong, cheap, plentiful, magnetic and useful. At the ironwork they dump iron ore into a blast furnace along with some carbon and limestone. In time, tough-as-nails steel is poured into products.
Superman-strong, iron-inspired-steel supports bridges, skyscrapers, railroad cars, pipe, towers, automobiles, simple hand tools and tiny screws.
Strengthened by ambition and courage participants in the IRONMAN overcome the resistance to their quest. Who competes in such an assessment?
Since its inception, IRONMAN has been represented by ambitious and courageous individuals who aren’t afraid to push their limits. It’s amazing what people have overcome to pursue their dream of becoming an IRONMAN, and despite the fact that every year we believe that their stories can’t be topped, season after season we’re proven wrong.
Yes, the IRONMAN race is a competition with great individual effort but no one wins alone. Training with others is highly recommended.
Suffering is part of the experience. The failure to train, lack of endurance, using improper equipment, inadequate rest and poor nutrition management during training and on race day creates additional suffering.
Likewise, iron has an enemy.
Iron when mixed with carbon becomes steel, desired for its strength. However, iron is reactive. When exposed to air and water it rusts. Like a freshly baked croissant it begins to flake.
Rust attacks the surface. This corrosion results from reactions between iron and oxygen in the presence of impure water, air moisture or any other medium that conducts electricity. As the rust develops, it shrinks, creating tiny cracks that allow more oxygen and moisture to penetrate deeper into the iron. More and more rust is created until it destroys what was once so strong.
The Attack on Productivity
There is a competitive advantage, everyone responsible for results.
High performers get work done on time and on budget. They accept accountability and want feedback. They create less stress and conflict and are highly productive [without sacrificing their lives, requiring salary increases or demanding bonuses.] Human resource professionals prize them.
I call them self-managed teams and self-managed leaders. They’re strong in relationship. Engagement and productivity require human connection. Strength comes from solid relationships. Healthy connections demand trust.
Just like iron people are reactive (have you noticed?) When exposed to poor communication, unfulfilled expectations, selfish-self behaviors, broken promises or lack of character, fear attacks like rust, eroding trust little by little.
The WD-40 of Relationships
Do-it-Yourselfers know to clean a rusty tool’s surface with steel wool (iron on iron) or a Scotch-Brite scrub sponge. It only works on the tool if it’s followed by the application of a penetrating lubricant like WD-40.
Steel wool rubs people raw; there is a better solution.
By definition trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed.
Distrust is the rust of relationships and so, the enemy of high performance.
Trust creates and protects the strength of self-managed teams.
Such an exchange happens when you can place your confidence in someone.
How much trust are you contributing to your team?
Rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 5
- I do my part — others can count on me
- I hold myself accountable for my work
- I enjoy coming to work
- I help create a “can-do” environment
- I reduce stress and conflict within the team
- I find ways to add value to the organization
- I pick up the slack
- I produce at a high level
- I am truthful
- I am authentic and inspire hope
Now, assess your team.
What did you learn?
You can quit if you want, and no one will care. But you will know for the rest of your life. – John Collins, co-founder IRONMAN
Iron alloyed with chromium and carbon produces stainless steel. It doesn’t rust. Hmmm…