Passion is rarely a driver. Passion is almost always a result: Through the virtuous cycle of effort, improvement, and fulfillment, you can develop a passion for just about any pursuit. 

Unless you're Mina Guli, the founder and CEO of Thirst, an international organization working to solve the world's water scarcity crisis.

At yesterday's New York City Marathon, the 48 year-old ran the first of the 100 marathons she will run in 100 days, a journey that will take her through Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and South America before she circles back to NYC to run her last marathon on Feb. 11.

Where did her passion for water conservation come from? 

"I was standing by the Orange River in South Africa," she says. "A park ranger pointed to a spot on the river bank and said, 'The river used to be 6 meters above that mark. It's dropped that much... and all these people rely on the river for drinking water, for washing water, for their livelihoods -- without this water, these people have no economy, no society, no life.'

"I looked around and it hit me: I was going to do this for the rest of my life. It was a moment where I said, 'This is it. I will work until I make this happen.'"

Of course she didn't pick an easy challenge. The United Nations estimates that close to half of the world's population will live in countries with limited water supplies by the year 2030. In the U.S. alone, over 100 million Americans face water scarcity for at least one month of the year. That's why Mina teamed up with Colgate and its #EveryDropCounts campaign. 

But the size of the challenge -- and the impact it has on literally billions of people -- is what fuels Mina. 

"It's ironic, but many people think the key to running 40 marathons in 40 days (which she's done before), or 100 marathons in 100 days, is the physical preparation," Mina says. "But the most important aspect is mental. After I'm physically exhausted, knowing why I'm doing it is what really keeps me going.

"Entrepreneurs know what I'm talking about. They believe in something bigger than themselves, and they'll do whatever it takes to achieve it." 

Another irony is that, as Mina says, "I'm a really bad runner. When people say, 'I'm going to run with you,' I get nervous because I realize they'll find out how slow I am." (Laughs.) "Running is a way to raise awareness, to meet people in the local communities, to meet water experts, policy makers, government officials... running 100 marathons is a way to show I'm 100 percent committed, and to build a water smart community."

One way you can become part of that community is to turn off the faucet when you brush our teeth. Turning off the faucet can save between 2 and 4 gallons of water, which adds up to between 15 and 30 bottles of water... which, if we all do it, equals over 31 million plastic bottles of water each day.

That's a ton of bottles of water -- and all from simply turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth.

"I'm an entrepreneur, and I've been around many successful entrepreneurs," Mina says. "They had great business ideas, but the business was really born out of a passion. When you have a passion, you can push yourself in ways you never thought were possible. When you have that deep-seated desire to achieve, you can get your mind, your body, and your spirit to do almost anything. My passion is obviously water, and I can run very long distances even though I was told years ago I may not walk again, much less run.

"We're capable of achieving so much when we align our passion with what we want to do."

When you think you're exhausted, when you think you're fried, when you think you've done all you can...  you always find a little more in you. You are always capable of more than you think.

Of course you may never want to run 100 marathons in 100 days, but Mina serves as a great reminder that most of our limits are self-imposed.

Try harder.  You'll be glad you did, because that's when you start to achieve the success you really deserve.

And really want.

Published on: Nov 5, 2018
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