Enduring Your Race

By Alan L. Olsen, CPA, MBA(tax)
Managing Partner
Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen and Co., LLP

Every Year in Australia, an endurance race is held. It stretches from Sydney to Melbourne totaling 543.7 miles. For a world class athlete it takes five days to run. These athletes are young, professionally trained, and receive huge sponsorships

Cliff Young was a very unlikely competitor in the race. At the age of 61, he showed up wearing overalls and work boots. Some of the officials thought that he was a lost spectator, but when he picked up his number, everyone was shocked. They said that he would never finish the race. To that cliff replied:

“Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”9

The professional athletes running the race calculated that in order to finish they needed to run straight for 18 hours each day and sleep for 6. Everyone knew this- except for Cliff Young.

When the race began all of the runners took off and Cliff was left in the dust. He didn’t even run properly, he shuffled his feet. On the second day of the race everyone had forgotten about Cliff, but to everyone’s surprise he had jogged all night long and was determined to run for the next five days straight without sleeping. No one believed it was possible- except for Cliff.

Cliff kept on going and going. Each night he came a little close to leading the pack and by the final day he had surpassed all of the world class athletes. He was the first to cross the finish line and in the process set a new course record.

Cliff’s shuffle- was named after him and became known as the ‘Young Shuffle’. After Cliff won the race he was approached with prize money- $10,000. He hadn’t realized that there was a cash reward involved. He had just wanted to run in the race. There had been ten other runners to finish the race and Cliff figured that they worked hard as well so he gave them each $1000 and walked away taking none for himself.

From Cliff’s story we learn that we can change the world. We don’t have to do things the same way as everybody else. Find what works for you, then do it. Believe in yourself- move out of your comfort zone. So what if others don’t think what you’re trying to do is possible. If you know it will work for you- then do it- know your limits and be sure to push yourself beyond them.
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Alan L. Olsen is Managing Partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, a leading CPA firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. With more than 25 years of experience in public accounting, Alan works with some of the most successful venture capitalists in the world, developing innovative financial strategies for individuals and businesses. Olsen is also host of KDOW’s Radio Show Alan Olsen’s American Dreams: Keys to Life’s Success.

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