James Lawrence – Achieve The Impossible

Achieve the Impossible Speech – James Lawrence, widely known as The Iron Cowboy, shares the story of how hitting rock bottom triggered the shift he needed to become the best version of himself, giving him the determination to conquer 50 Iron Mans in 50 days.


Pull off to the side of the road, I chuck my bike, and I am curled into a ball, and I start crying. We were dealing with such fatigue, I was falling asleep on the bike. I had to figure out, and concentrate so intently to not fall asleep on the bike. And as you know, I ultimately did on day 18. I lost the battle, and I fell asleep on my bike and crashed.

And I had to start focusing on all the reasons and whys I was out there. I emigrated from another country, and I was gonna live the American dream. Well, if you follow US economics at all, in 2008, the mortgage sector got hit the hardest. And we lost everything. And we fought, and fought, and fought, and they just continued to take, and take, and take, until they took it all.

It’s one of those moments where you can allow it to define you, and continue to beat you down, or you can look at it as a blessing and a turning point.

You know, my mother, I love her, and she always said to me, “10 percent of life is what happens to you, 90 percent of life is how you choose to react to it.” And for me, it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.


To hit that rock bottom, because I would’ve never made the shift that we did.

And by themselves, one reason was not enough for me for get back on my bike and do 20 more Ironmans. But as I started going through the list of everything that I was doing, and why I was doing it… It’s interesting, ’cause I would gather them all together, and I’d focus on this big ball.

A good example is my daughter, she wanted to do gymnastics. And about halfway through, she was like, “This is too hard.” And I was like, “I don’t care. You gotta see it through.” And she did, and she’s a… she advanced so quickly, and started to see success. She loves it, she stayed in it. It’s something she said she was going to do, and she needed to see that through.

And so… And that’s one thing I’m really big on, is if you say you’re gonna do something, you do it. And that’s just an example I try to set. Now, and I also believe that kids are a product of our environments. We’re surrounded today by people being satisfied with mediocre. And if you want your kids to be excellent, you have to be excellent yourself. And so that was one of the things, when I’m laying there on the side of the road, at 30, with 20 Ironmans to go, I said, “I told my kids I would do this.”

And as soon as I focused on that, I started to experience a rebirth. Because now, I was focusing on the very, very next moment that I had control over. And everything that I was trying to accomplish and why I was there.

And this whole process was about eight minutes. The whole thing, from complete meltdown to breaking all of the purposes and whys down, to the realization, the rebirth, and getting back on and going. It can happen that quick. We’re moments away, every day, from a decision that’s gonna completely change our life. And I call this process now, looking back on it, both a rebirth and putting on my uniform, which was the alter-ego. And my uniform is those yellow sunglasses you’ve seen me wear in some of my pictures. And when I put those glasses on, that’s when the Iron Cowboy comes out. And that dude is a bad, bad man. And there’s nothing that’s gonna get in his way.

And I do a lot of speaking from stage now, and I want to encourage people to find whatever their uniform is, find whatever their alter-ego is, because when you discover that, and how to flip that switch, that’s when nothing gets in your way, and that’s where you shift your focus and you realize what your purpose is. And I knew if I had the courage to get back on my bike and finish that day, and then do the 20 more, my life would be different.

One of the biggest questions I get is: “How do I become mentally tough?” And one of the biggest things I try to get people to do is back down off the inspiration, and let’s build a foundation. You almost have to take the huge goal and shelf it. Don’t forget about it, but shelf it, and now focus on everything that’s small to get there.

The moment you realize the next step isn’t going to kill you, and that next step is the first step to evolving, changing, growing, and learning, becoming literally the best version of yourself, that’s the most beautiful thing. It’s not going to kill you. And putting yourself in the game, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to achieve something that everybody else said was impossible. The hardest thing to do is start moving.