The Commitment to Succeed: Lessons from an Ironman Champion

Chris McCormack winning in Hawaii

Chris McCormack is an exceptional athlete. For years he was one of the dominating forces in the triathlon world, winning two Ironman World Championships, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Cup Series, the Triathlon World Championships, and the 2012 Long Distance World Championships. Chris  also won multiple other Ironman events breaking the elusive 8 hour barrier a record 4 times.

You could be forgiven for thinking that someone with that much success must be loaded with natural talent and it’s just easy for them. Well, Chris McCormack would be the first person to tell you that much of his success is down to his incredible level of commitment.

What’s really interesting about Chris McCormack is the level he takes his commitment to. Most people who want to be good at something realise that it takes commitment to achieve success, and anyone involved in coaching, managing or performing is always looking for it in themselves and their team. We often hear phrases like “you need to show commitment” or “you must be committed” because without commitment success will be elusive. But there is commitment and there is the Chris McCormack, elite level, high performance type of commitment.

In an interview with sports psychologist Karine Grand’Maison, Chris revealed his 9 Commitments for success:

  1. Commitment to Training
  2. Commitment to his Race Plan
  3. Commitment to Staying Positive
  4. Commitment through Pain
  5. Commitment to Finishing Strong
  6. Commitment to Learn from every Race
  7. Commitment to Push his Limits
  8. Commitment to Be the Best
  9. Commitment to Achieving his Goals

Each one of these commitments represented a key aspect of what Chris believed was an essential part for being successful his chosen sport. Each one was meticulously thought through in fine detail and each one providing support for the others.  By committing himself fully to them in a specific focused way, Chris was able to achieve an incredibly high level of success for many years.

So when you are deciding to commit yourself to something you must work out for yourself what your personal level of commitment needs to be and what specifically you need to be committed to. No one can tell you how important something is in your life; that is your decision. What is very clear though, is that people who excel are extremely committed people. Without high levels of commitment, high levels of success are almost impossible.

So work out what you want to be successful at and break it down into the most important elements. Make a personal commitment to do them, stay focused and put your heart and soul into doing what it takes to accomplish those goals. That is the kind of focus and commitment required to excel.

I will end with a quote from Chris McCormack which sums up his attitude towards the commitment needed to succeed:

“When I first started triathlon I had a list of all the things I wanted to do. Until I achieve those goals, I will continue to be hard on myself. I will continue to assess my races, continue to learn from what I am doing wrong. I will continue to fly to training camps, go to different places to meet sports scientists, and spend time away from my family. I think that when I’m done, I will have accomplished things that I can be really proud of. It’s better to die trying than never to try at all. That’s how I like to think. Catch me if you can. And if you do, well done!”


Image credit: Chris McCormack

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