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  • Earl Breon

The Burden of Command - The Cliff Young Shuffle



Earl Breon 0:09

Hello everyone, your host here, Earl Breon. Sometimes the burden of command is about doing things the unconventional way, even if they're not unconventional for you imagine if you will, that it's 1983. We're in Melbourne, Australia. And we've trained our entire lives running ultra marathons. We're getting ready to run the inaugural Westfield, Sydney to Melbourne ultra marathon. This is scheduled to be a 544 mile race. The the promoters Westfield stores, set it up between their two stores in Sydney and Melbourne. And it attracted a lot of the top tier, ultra marathon runners of the time. So your answer starting with line and and you see your fellow competitors with their nice gear and stretching and their trainers going over stuff with them. And then you see somebody who is completely out of sorts. You see, an older gentleman come up, wearing coveralls work boots, and missing his teeth. Now, this isn't exactly the idea of what an ultra marathon runner looks like. But the gentleman I just described is an Australian by the name of Cliff young. Now, during this race, Cliff became fairly infamous for his his running style. He ran in this very awkward shuffle is what they came to call it the cliff young shuffle. But when he shows up at the finish line, excuse me, when he showed up at the starting line, everybody's looking at him real awkward, like he's putting the show on like he's kind of making fun of runners and nobody takes him serious. But Cliff had a kind of a trick up his sleeve that he didn't even know about UCE he grew up on a potato farm, his family had a bunch of sheep. And whenever there was a big storm coming in, his family would send him out to gather up the sheep. They didn't have tractors, they didn't have a TV or horses or whatever they have cliff. A Cliff claims that that as a young kid, that he would round up approximately 2000 sheep at a time. And sometimes he was forced to to run, you know, two or three days at a time to round up all of the sheep. So that was the extent of cliffs training. Well, the race kicks off. And they see his weird, awkward running style and and his, you know, poor gear. And again, he's wearing coveralls and work boots. And the elite athletes if you will, they quickly outpaced him and put several hours of distance between them and good old cliff. Well, that was day one when they stopped because that was the conventional wisdom at the time. When they stopped, Cliff kept running. And he made up that ground and eventually took the lead. And after a few days of this cliff ended up winning the race. by more than 10 hours. The entire race took Cliff five days, 15 hours and four minutes. Now what's interesting about this is that was almost two full days faster than the previous record for any run that had been held between Sydney and Melbourne. So here's this guy who comes out of nowhere, with unconventional tactics, not even remotely close to the appropriate gear, everybody chunks him up is a unmitigated failure before the gun even sounds to start the race. And he ends up breaking the record by almost two full days. Now, full disclosure, there were, I think six people that finish the race, they all ended up breaking the old record by you know, somewhere in the neighborhood of a day and a half. But Cliff broke it by almost full two days. You see, just because


something has been done a certain way for long period of time doesn't mean that's the only way to do it, or with the only tools to do it. You see, Cliff didn't know that he was supposed to rest. He didn't know that he was supposed to have fancy running shoes. He didn't know that he was supposed to have long, fluid strides and be more efficient. What he knew was what had brought him success and rounding up those sheep and running for long distance of time before he had this weird, awkward shuffling kind of motion. And later on, scientists would study this and prove that the cliff young shuffle was actually way more efficient than anything that had been thought of as efficient strides at the time. It conserves energy use, it allows you to keep running these long distances without stopping. And so while the rest of the field thought Cliff Young was, was an idiot, it turns out that Yeah, sure, it was a little blind luck on his part, he was actually ahead of the curve. And how many times do we see this in our personal lives, in our business lives in our leadership journeys, where we have a good idea of what we know works, but it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. And then we have a decision to make, do we give in? Do we conform? Or like Cliff? Do we do our thing our way and achieve our results? You see Cliff set the trend that day? To this day? The cliff young shuffled technique is one of the top techniques used by ultra marathon runners. And we're going on 30 years actually, we're going on 36 years never do math live, right. We're going on 36 years of time between when he ran his first race introduce the cliff young shuffle to now. So what's stopping you from doing things your way? What's stopping you from being the innovator? What's stopping you from being the trendsetter? Are you afraid of the public opinion? Are you worried that people are going to make fun of your your chosen attire, metaphorically speaking, or your techniques? Because if you are, well, then you've already lost the game. But if you're willing to get out there, be creative, be a little weird. Do things that work no matter how unconventional they are, you're ahead of the pace. You know, if you're doing everything the same way that everybody else is doing it. You're not going to be able to separate yourself, you're not gonna be able to stand out in the crowd. Now, sure. Would I be telling this story if Cliff had showed up and he had not finished the race? Absolutely not. He'd be an unmitigated failure. But the difference here is Cliff knew. Cliff had experience he had tried these things. He didn't know that he could run 544 miles I don't believe, but he knew that he could run really long distances. I mean, in fact, he he said one of his techniques to keep running was he just imagined he was back on his farm chasing down sheep before a storm comes in.


It's experience folks, that's what I'm talking about here is your personal experiences. If you have success if you know something works, don't be afraid to try it just because it goes against the norms the the the the familiar and the acceptable the the thing that everybody else is doing. Sure, you may get looked at a little weird, you may get looked at a little funny. But man, who hasn't? You think that Steve Jobs didn't get looked at a little funny when he said hey, I I'm going to build a phone that will hold all of your music and, and play all these apps. Nobody even knew what an app was at the time outside of the PC World. He was a weirdo. He paved the way it worked. Don't be afraid to be a weirdo. do what is right to your standards, your specifications. Be willing to adjust if it's not working? Absolutely. Sometimes the tried and proven is tried and proven because it is the best way. But sometimes, often there's a lot of room for innovation. Alright folks, that's it. That's the story of Cliff young and the cliff young shuffle and, and and how hopefully it'll set you free to be a little weird. Be a trendsetter, go out there and and push those boundaries and be as successful as you can be in your own style. You have any comments, questions or concerns for me, feel free to reach out at burden doc command at gmail. com. That's burden command@gmail.com look forward to talking with you again in the next episode. And by all means keep those shields up.


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