The Quest for 1%: Trouble in Paradise

My Fellow Riskologists,

First and foremost: BOO! Happy Halloween!


Welcome to the 1% Club Update for October, 2011. This is the place where I discuss the strategies I use and trials I face as I take on some of the biggest challenges of my life.

If you’re new here, you may want to get familiar with the 1% Club first and read a few previous updates to see how things have progressed over the months.

Thanks for being here. I hope you’re able to take some of the lessons I’ve learned and apply them to your own big challenges.

Athens Classic Marathon

When you train for marathons on an eight-week schedule, there isn’t a lot of room for error. If you miss a run early in the game, you can recover with some effort, but if you miss one at the end, it can really throw the train off of the tracks. That’s why, after an illness recently knocked me out for a week and a half, I’m a bit nervous about heading to Greece next week for the Athens Classic Marathon.

On Sunday, November 13, I’ll line up with thousands of others to run what’s known to as “the world’s first marathon.” I’ve done my best to recover from the illness, but it could still prove problematic since I missed one of my most important training runs.

Although the course is difficult and I’m ill prepared for it, my goal remains the same: to complete the race in under four hours. In this case, I choose to push.

Trouble in Paradise…

This, of course, is assuming that I make it there at all. If you don’t follow the news (I tend not to), these are extraordinary times now in Greece. The country is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and waiting for the rest of Europe to give them a lot of money before everything falls to pieces.

In an attempt to get everything back on track, the Greek government is doing everything it can to pay its debts (i.e. actually collecting taxes, cutting down on corruption, and slashing public services), and making the people of Greece very unhappy in the process. As a response, many public unions have decided to strike. The garbage men haven’t picked up the trash in weeks and now the airport workers are threatening to walk off the job if things don’t change. That means all flights would be grounded.

This perfect storm has brewed for some time, and I was hoping it would stay in the “brewing stage” until after I returned, but now it looks like the hammer is likely to fall right as I arrive—the government claims they’ll be completely out of money by Mid-November if they don’t get their bailout loan.

So far, my emails to parliament to fix the mess have gone unanswered, but I assume they’re working on it. For the good of the people, I do hope that they sort out their problems and get things headed the right direction. And if that means I can come run a race in their country in the meantime, all the better. I’ll just need to remember to bring my hip waders; the streets may still be swimming in trash when I arrive.

To date, I’ve completed 2 of 7 worldwide marathons.

A Word on Challenges

If you’ve read some of my earlier updates, you know that I’m no stranger to political drama. It seems to follow me around (or I subconsciously seek it out…)

When you’re working on something big and important, this comes with the territory. Every great challenge comes with great setbacks. If you haven’t experienced yours yet…just wait.

And if setbacks are something that everyone must experience, then the only thing that really matters is how you react to them. The easiest option is to give up and do something else. Fine for some things, but if this is really important to you, don’t do it! You’ll regret it!

The next option you might choose is to readjust the goal—put it on hold and give yourself a new deadline, or redefine it so that you might finish without all the trouble. Another good option but, again, you have to ask yourself: “Is this new goal actually what I want, or am I settling for something less because of the circumstances?”

When it comes to the most important challenges, my preferred strategy is to push on, despite the hardship—to tempt fate and give it my all anyway. It’s the least likely option to work, but when it does, there’s no feeling that can compare. And when it doesn’t, you can start again, knowing that you never compromised.

AR Readers answer: Where are Your Priorities?

Last month, I was busy clarifying my priorities here at, and I wanted to know what the driving priorities in your life were. I wanted to know what makes you get out of bed in the morning and do what you do. You answered the call, and here’s what you had to say:

And many more of you also answered the question in the comments section of last month’s update. You can read those over here.

New Reader Challenge: Dealing with Setbacks

Last month was all about creating and understanding your priorities. This month I want to hear about your setbacks—all the things that get in your way. These are things that everyone has to face at some point, and I know the community here has a wealth of knowledge to share.

When have you faced a big setback in your life, and what did you do to get through (or around) it?

Let your answer help more people by writing an article about this on your own blog (and leaving a link to it in the comments). If you’re not the blogging type, though, feel free to leave your story right here in the comments.

I’ll share everyone’s stories in next month’s update. In the mean time, I hope you’re making your biggest dreams come true.

Yours in risk-taking,


Images by: jercraigs, Sotiris Farmakidis