I ran track in school. I loved the various disciplines of track and field. I remember the sheer impressive athletic abilities of track and field athletes. There were guys in the track club that sprinted like Usain Bolt. There were ladies on the track team that could high jump and pole vault well above their body size. I watched with awe as the ‘big boys’ threw the shot put and the hammer.
I was marginal in some track and field events and terrible at others. I was part of a pretty good 4 X 400 meter relay team. I could hold my own against almost any runner during the metric mile. I never won first place, but I could keep up with the toughest guys on the track in the endurance events.
The sprints, however, were a different story.
I wasn’t just bad at short distances… I was awful! Babies in diapers, crawling on all fours, could finish the 100-meter sprint faster than me. I am the world’s worst sprinter! Ironically, the only sprinting event I was even remotely competitive in was the 400-meter hurdles. I was competitive in this event with guys much faster in the standard 400-meter event.
Your starting blocks matter
While listening to Nelson Tressler’s life story, I was reminded why I could race the hurdles in high school better than most of the best sprinters around me. Nelson was born with every possible disadvantage that a human being could face. From his grandfather’s conviction after murdering the police officer who molested his mother, Nelson should have never been able to make it out of the starting gates.
How well you start dramatically impacts the rest of the race. However, just starting strong doesn’t guarantee a first-place finish. More than one sprinter has made up for a lousy start through perseverance and endurance during the race.
Nelson definitely had to make up for a massive deficit out of the starting blocks, and he describes what it was like growing up as the child of a rape victim as being born into the “unlucky sperm club.” Nelson overcame the unimaginable circumstances of his birth to be an extremely successful business leader.
How hard you run matters more
You should thank God tonight if you were born into a family that gave you a good start in life. However, if your life got off to a bad start like Nelson, run your life’s race with everything that you’ve got. He learned to move faster than the people around him. He made up the difference in his family tragedy by sheer hard work and perseverance.
Nelson eventually made it to school on a sports scholarship. After spending a few years in the US military, he tried his hand at business. And this is where Nelson hit his stride. He was the top real estate agent nationally, selling over $1 BILLION for several years.
He took what he learned in selling real estate and built a highly successful service business. From there, he launched several business ventures that made him one of the up-and-coming business leaders in Las Vegas before the age of 40. Nelson’s hard work and discipline caused him to catch up and pass by leaders born into the greatest families in America.
How you face the hurdles matters most
I could run the hurdles faster than most other sprinters because of the courage I had to face the obstacles. Lots of sprinters were just simply quicker than me in the 400-meter race. However, they slow down or lose confidence when you put hurdles in their way. I knew I only had the speed to keep up with them if I faced the hurdles with no reservations.
Life is going to put hurdles in your way. Maybe you face hurdles from the start, like the extraordinary circumstances around Nelson’s birth. Perhaps other runners place those hurdles in your path to hold you back. Maybe you’ve placed obstacles in your lane due to some life mistakes. It doesn’t matter where the hurdles come from. What matters is the courage to face the hurdles without fear.
Nelsons describes his life as a “murder to millions” story. Today, he’s using his personal success story to motivate others. He founded the company IGOTSMARTER to help people clear the hurdles in their lives.