Please Join Us!
When: Friday, July 20 @ 1 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. GMT, 10:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: What Do Top Performers Do Differently?
“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.”
− Mae West (1893-1980), American actress.
An Unlikely Champion
The Comrades Marathon is one of South Africa’s annual sporting highlights. It’s a 56 mile (90 kilometer) ultra marathon that takes place in the middle of our southern hemisphere winter. It owes its name to the many thousands of athletes who, over its 97-year history, have helped their fellow competitors to cross the finish line.
The cutoff time for receiving a medal is 12 hours. Just let that sink in: 12 hours of running! Now imagine running that far, for that long, with a physical disability.
There was one man you couldn’t fail to notice in the 2018 race. Xolani Luvuno was allowed to start long before the rest of the field, and it took him longer than 12 hours to complete the distance. But he competed on crutches, because he only has one leg.
That alone is a remarkable story, but it was the finale of an even more extraordinary tale…
A Second Chance to Succeed
Xolani grew up in a poverty-stricken, drug-infested neighborhood. He dropped out of high school at 16 and turned to a life of crime. He became a gangster, notorious for robbing people at knifepoint.
Xolani spent five years in prison and, after his release, he was diagnosed with cancer in his one leg, and had it amputated above the knee.
Homeless, with no qualifications, and with even a life of crime ruled out by his disability, he turned to drugs. He begged during the day, and would “shoot up” at night.
One day a man stopped to chat to the one-legged beggar he saw near his business every day. When the man asked if he was an addict, Xolani denied it, and the man offered him a job.
Two days later, Xolani confessed he was an addict, but that he wanted to recover. He decided to go cold turkey and suffered terrible withdrawal symptoms, but a week later he was “clean.” Unfortunately, he started drinking and subsequently lost his job.
Two weeks later, Xolani returned and asked if he could have his job back, without pay, so that he could prove that he was sober and willing to work. The businessman gave him a second chance.
Top Performers Don’t All Look the Same
The company that hired Xolani offered their employees financial incentives to run, to boost their health and well-being. The incentives were linked to race distances, and the biggest incentives went to employees who finished the famous Comrades Marathon.
Xolani decided to start training for the Comrades – and he completed it with the owner of the business by his side. But he didn’t take his prize money. Instead, he asked his employer to donate it to a school for disabled children.
What Do Top Performers Do Differently?
Xolani wasn’t the fastest person in the race. But, in my opinion, he is still a top performer. He had to overcome a deprived upbringing, a terrible reputation, and a criminal history, and he had to beat incredible odds both mentally and physically.
Yet, he went on to become the first person to complete the Comrades Marathon on one leg and two crutches.
In our poll this week, we asked what you thought was the most important trait of a top performer. A third of participants voted for “learning from experience.” Almost as many people chose “being disciplined.” Click here to view all the options and the results.
In our #MTtalk Twitter chat this week, we’re going to talk about what top performers do differently. We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- Why does top performance matter?
- What characteristics do top performers have in common?
- What role does does being “naturally gifted” play?
- How can being a top performer be a disadvantage?
- What obstacles do you need to be prepared for, when working to become a top performer?
- In what ways could you help someone to become a top performer?
To help you prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.
How to Join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.