Overcoming the odds and reaching for success

“Never tell me the odds.” Yes, the sci-fi geeks out there will realize this is a quote from Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from Star Wars Episode 5, The Empire Strikes Back, written by Stephen Spielberg. But there is a lot of wisdom in that quote. I have a tendency to ignore the odds and it has served me very well.

I was told the odds were clear that building a large gym in the small town of Sylvan Lake was impossible and that I would never succeed. It’s been nearly 13 years, and yes, it is hard work and there have been many challenges, but we are still open, still thriving and still having fun.

When I cracked a vertebrae and crushed the tops and bottoms of three others in my back at age 15, I was told the odds were I would never run again and probably be in a wheelchair by age 40.

I tore most of the ligaments in my ankle when I was 24. Three different doctors told me I would never run again, never hike again and that my ankle was ‘irreversibly damaged’.

Well, I’m 45 and have completed five Ironman triathlons, two ultra distance triathlons (Ultraman) and several marathons. I am currently nowhere near needing a wheelchair. I am intimately familiar with physiotherapy, chiropractic and a whole host of other methods to get my body healthy when something happens to it and not only survive, but thrive.

And that’s just me.

You should hear the dozens of stories about people I get to work with who have overcome incredible odds to succeed. People who have dropped 100 lbs or more, dropped their bad cholesterol with just exercise, reduced their insulin meds with just exercise and so much more.

Last month I got to watch Andre Kajlich be the first person to finish the Ultraman World Championships in a wheelchair. He lost both of his legs in an accident in his early 20s when he ended up across a set of railway tracks. He was told a lot of things about odds and thankfully ignored them all.

Terry Fox – talk about odds. He was told to just try and fit in. His prosthetic leg had a leather strap and some super basic function. It was never designed to run – that was ridiculous at the time. He ran a marathon a day crossing our great country until he passed away. Yah okay, there are some odds you can’t change, but how many people in this life hear the odds and just give up without trying?

Don’t be that person!

Odds change all the time. Like I have said before – nothing works. You make something work. This world is full of people who have done the impossible.

Perhaps you have read my article on running a mile in under four minutes and how it was impossible? Human beings could not physically run a mile any faster than four minutes and 1.4 seconds. It had taken 32 years to go from 4:14.4 (set in 1913 by American John Paul Jones) to the record of 4:01.4 – set by Gunder Hagg from Sweden, set in 1945. Gunder’s record stood for nine years without anybody changing it. At that time (according to the history books) doctors, trainers, coaches and many others were writing papers about how breaking the four-minute mile was impossible. They could explain it through physics, wind forces, muscle response time and a whole host of other things that experts do. Then Roger Bannister ran a 3:59.4 on May 6th, 1954. His record stood for 46 days before John Landy ran a 3:58 flat. Then it was broken again three years later and again and again – 17 more times! In fact, in 1964, a high school kid broke the four minute mile barrier. Impossible hey?

So don’t listen to the odds. Smash the statistics. Prove the experts wrong. Ignore the trend. Be amazing and live your dreams.

Go ahead, I dare you. Odds are you will have a great life.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.

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