I have terminal brain cancer. I have also completed four ironman races with the cancer in my head. 

Execution starts with focus. What you focus on becomes your reality. Anything is possible. 

I have brain cancer. The economy is hurting my business and the exchange rate is tumbling. The political landscape is unplayable and investor confidence has plummeted. The marketplace is tough. 

Whilst those statements might all be true, you cannot change them. That’s the landscape. 

What you can change is what you choose to make your focus. 

Focus on the economy and you have created a negative feedback loop from hell. 

It sounds something like this; I shouldn’t train today because I have cancer. It will be hard to train because I had chemo this week. My heads hurts because of the tumour, I cant go out today. 

I am giving myself reasons not to train, not to push myself. Legitimate reasons. But I am focussing on the wrong things. 

If by some miracle I manage to get my head past the excuses and get out the door, I’m already expecting it to be hard. And when it is, I revert to the blame segment of the loop. 

It was hard because of the cancer, the chemo, the tumour. Which makes it exponentially harder the next day. 

Ultimately, I fail and I stop trying. I do fewer sales. My company’s turnover drops dramatically. But it’s not my fault, I’m a victim of the cancer, the market, the economy, politics. 

No, you’re a victim of your own thoughts! Your results reflect your focus. 

I decided that my purpose was to survive, and surviving meant manipulating my mind and thoughts into doing what it takes daily to get to the start line of an ironman race in the best condition I could be, and then making damn sure I finished. If I could do that, I could beat the cancer in my head too. 

It was my sole focus. All that mattered. 

What matters is your purpose. The reason you’re in business. Define exactly what it is that your consumers or customers need or want. Make that your focus. Make that your plan. 

2500 athletes line up at the start of an ironman. The same landscape. The same rough seas to swim, mountains to climb, and conditions to overcome. The same pain, and the same exhaustion. Focus on any of those factors and you will never race to your potential, and you’ll end up blaming those factors for your poor performance. 

The athlete who wins is the one who focusses on controlling his or her thoughts. Racing against themselves. It’s too far, too long, too brutal to race against the competitors. You have to race to your strengths, focus on your own plan. And execute. 

My purpose was to finish. Nothing else mattered. I broke each event down into bite size chunks. Just get to that turn, the next kilometre, the next water point. I made that my focus and my entire existence at that moment. One thing. 

And execute. 

Focus, and execute. 

I crossed the finish line of each race in a time that should be humanly impossible given the cancer. 

Controlling your universe, starts with controlling your thoughts. 

Anything is possible. 

‘Execution starts with focus’ can be delivered as a 30- or 45-minute keynote. It also lends itself extremely well to a Masterclass, working with the individual attendees to arrive at a cohesive purpose for your business. Additionally, building on that purpose to provide a framework or plan of execution. 

Contact USB on +27(0)11 074 9800 to book Richard at your next conference, event or strategy session 

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