This is a post about values, living by them, and achieving more through it.

You read You value achievement. Let's talk about overcoming challenges and winning.


I've run a few marathons. One year an 88-year-old woman finished the same race. For fun I teased my mom that she could train for twenty years and still be younger.

She laughed but said she was past marathons. She grew up on a farm, so knew exertion, but had never run more than a 5k.

One year I ran the Philadelphia marathon. It was my home town and my mom watched. The temperature was in the 30s at the start, with strong winds. The rain started about mile 13.

Despite the weather, I finished a few minutes from my personal best. My mom met me at the finish line in tears of joy.

After hugging and congratulating me, she said: "Alright, I'll do it!"

Huh? Do what? I didn't know what she was talking about.

Later I learned she watched the race next to a family watching the father run--an orthopedist in his 50s. "Wasn't it bad for his body," she asked. They told her he said running wasn't unhealthy if you had good form.

It turns out she decided to try a marathon based on this doctor's family. She said she couldn't guarantee she'd finish, but at least she'd train for a marathon.

She registered for the New York marathon that year. She hurt her leg in training (my family blamed me for it), but re-registered the following year.

Many people say they don't have the body to run a marathon or excuse themselves for some other reason. The marathon isn't a measure of your body, though. It's a measure of your training.

My mom understood this. She trained as soon as the weather warmed up that year and as a 66-year-old grandmother of five, she finished her first marathon (my family didn't give me credit). Here she is, around mile 4 in Brooklyn, in her Michael J. Fox Foundation shirt, for whom she raised funds:

Marie Spodek running her first marathon

Exhaustion and Elation

You've felt exhausted in business and life. I've never finished a marathon as a 66-year-old grandmother, so I don't know how she felt, but I suggest she looked more exhausted.

Amid the exhaustion, though, I saw elation--a deep satisfaction that I suspect came from redefining her idea of possibility that can only come from overcoming a challenge in something you value.

Her achievement seems amazing from one perspective. From another, though, she just put one foot in front of the other for months, building ability, until she did it.

I couldn't help conclude that whatever your challenges, if they're possible, preparation and discipline will get you there. Especially challenges less than running a marathon as a 66-year-old grandmother.

What It Takes to Win an NBA Championship

I was thinking along these lines one year, watching the NBA championships. After the win, cameras showed the winners celebrating amid the confetti.

We're used to looking for team leaders like LeBron and Jordan. This particular year I happened to notice a few bench players.

Though they celebrated like the players with all the playing time, remember the elation I saw in my mom?

They didn't have it.

They looked happy, and a lot less fatigued than my mom when she finished, but they didn't show that deep emotional reward. They still got rings, but from what I saw, my mom seemed to enjoy a greater victory.

What Is The Value of a Championship?

What is the value of a championship, or of winning in general? It's not the trophy, which just represents it.

I've won a few competitions. I can't put into words the value of winning--something more about the emotions it evokes. Maybe the social recognition too. Something no one can take away.

But I can tell you what I saw in my mom when she finished, and it was greater than what I saw in some NBA champions. She got the value of winning an NBA championship.

I don't know what challenges you face, but if your challenge is less than a marathon and you're physically more able than a 66-year-old grandmother, you can probably get that value too.