You see it happen about 1 minute in: Heather Dorniden is in the lead, running a 600-meter (sic – US spelling) race, when she falls down flat on her face.


No one would blame her for not getting up. It’s humiliating and painful. And who’d have a hope of catching up with seasoned runners?

But that’s not what Heather did. If you haven’t seen the video before, watch it here:

Incredible, isn’t it?!

This race occurred in 2008. Heather has married and now goes by the last name of Kampf. But her persistence and literal “get up and go” attitude has inspired millions since and she continues to be asked about that race.

Harder Obstacles Than a Fall in a Race

It’s inspiring to see someone, in athletics or the arts or another endeavour, overcome in the face of defeat. In those kinds of endeavours, we get to see in a brief period of time how they overcome obstacles and achieve victory.

It’s a lot more difficult to do that in the face of daily grinds and achievements that are not so easily defined. But that doesn’t lessen the fact that a lot of us give up when we fall down when, in fact, we could still win the race if we get up, dust ourselves off, and, as Heather has stated, hear in our ears and minds the encouragement of others and go on to win.

It’s tempting. My wife was telling me just yesterday about Year 12 students at her high school where she has been the Head of STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics). Last year there were students that she encouraged to not give up before their final exams. These are high stakes exams in Western Australia. They count for 50% of the marks required for University entry and courses. Doing well can help someone get a great leap ahead in life.

But what happened? Some knuckled down, kept putting in the hard work right to the end and reaped the rewards of their efforts with great results and the entry into the program of their choice. Others took a two-week holiday abroad immediately before the exams. “Oh, they’re too stressed,” parents said, “they need a break”. Well, they celebrated before they’d crossed the finish line, ended up doing poorly in their exams and are now working menial jobs when they could have been studying for their degree at University and been that much further along.

If you give up in the face of the exam, will life go on? Yes. Absolutely. There are still ways to achieve your dreams and goals. But perhaps in that moment, you could have created greater opportunities for yourself and for others.

There are far greater obstacles in life and in the pursuit of good goals than a fall in a 600 metre race: business losses, economic recession, a changing world, terror, significant illness, accident, loss and trauma. These long-term “falls” can bring us down, or we can keep getting up.

What About Your Commitment?

What about your work, your business, your leadership or your family? It’s when things are at their most pressing and we are about to break through that barrier, that they get toughest. Just because we face a barrier is no time to stop. It’s then that we need to put the real effort in to break through.

Commitment is not for when the going is easy, it's for when times get tough. That's when you really need it. - Peter McLean Click To Tweet


Sometimes, as Heather has stated, we find another level as she did – another gear – in us, or perhaps lent to us, that we didn’t know we had. So we need to persevere and never give up in the face of the challenges we have set before us – or we aren’t worthy of them in the first place.

As Winston Churchill once famously said:

“never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Even Better Than Getting Up Ourselves

You know what’s even better than persisting ourselves? It’s helping others to persist and get up in the face of certain defeat. Because it’s only certain once it’s happened – in our minds, or out on the field.

Question: How has someone helped you to not give up in the face of defeat? How have you helped others? Leave a comment below.
If you would like to discuss coaching or consulting for yourself or your organisation, contact me here. We create great results for organisations and individuals through consulting, coaching, speaking and other services.
Peter J. McLean
Don’t Quit Before the Finish Line

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