Believe It and You Will See It – Cliff Young


Believe it and you will see it - Cliff Young

Believe it and you will see it – Cliff Young

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to share an extraordinary true story that reveals that when you believe it, you will see it.

First a quick update:

“What Americans can learn from Aussies”
Read the article I wrote that published on Australia Day identifying 10 lessons Americans can learn from Aussies such as no. 4: “…not as many women compete directly with men – although they are still highly successful and educated…the man is allowed to be a man – to protect and provide and yes, be rough around the edges. He is not told that he is supposed to be feminine or PC and a woman doesn’t feel stupid, inferior or threatened if she decides to ask a man for help.”

Now, let’s talk about a true story that reveals that when you believe it, you will see it.

Have you heard or said the phrase, “I’ll believe it when I see it”?

What if the opposite is actually the truth; “I’ll see it when I believe it”?

It was 1983 and it was the first ever race to be staged between Australia’s largest shopping centres in Sydney and Melbourne. The total distance was 875 kilometres – 544 miles. It was an Ultra Marathon. Now the experienced runners knew (believed actually) that the optimal performance in a race of this magnitude – approximately 7 days of expected running – would require 18 hours of running and 6 hours of sleep.

An old man approached the registration desk. He was 61. He had no coaches and no sponsors. In fact, he didn’t even have the proper racing attire; he was dressed in overalls and gumboots. Was it possible that this old man even believed for a moment that he could complete such a distance; a distance that is a grueling challenge for trained athletes more than half his age?

Reporters and the press began to question this man:

“Who are you and what are you doing?”
“I’m Cliff Young. I’m from a large ranch where we run sheep outside of Melbourne.”
“You’re really going to run in this race?”
“Got any backers?”

The press now viewed and treated Cliff Young as a side show:

“Then you can’t run…you’re crazy…there is no way you can ever finish this race”
“Yeah I can.” Cliff said. “See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or four wheel drives, and the whole time I was growing up– until about four years ago when we finally made some money and got a four wheeler– whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 head, and we have 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d catch them. I believe I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.”

Albert Ernest Clifford Young began the race and just like Aesop’s fable, “The Tortoise and The Hare”, Cliff was left in the dust as the finest distance runners took off. And just like the Tortoise, Cliff ran with his own style – a shuffle. It would go on to be recognized as an energy-saving running technique labeled the “Young Shuffle.”

But a shuffle alone wasn’t going to win a marathon.

The gap between Cliff Young and the runners who were in the lead grew wider and wider.

After 18 hours of running, the athletes rested for 6 hours of sleep.

But Cliff Young kept running.

He didn’t sleep. He ran overnight. He ran in the dark.

In fact, he ran day and night; he didn’t sleep until he won the race.

Cliff ran on day and night while imagining he was on his farm back home chasing sheep.

Cliff Young completed the ultra marathon in five days, 15 hours and four minutes; he had cut almost two days off the record for any previous run between Sydney and Melbourne. A 61 year-old man who had trained in gumboots among cow paddocks had won a 544 mile race without wearing professional running gear and without sleeping for almost 6 days.

If it were a Hollywood film, few would believe it to be true. But truth is stranger than fiction and it actually happened and now ABC Television Australia has commissioned Clock End Films to produce, “Cliffy” – a movie for Television immortalizing Australia’s most unlikely sporting hero and legend.

“Here is a man, who at the very mention of his name makes people smile. Everyone relates to Cliffy because secretly we all feel we have the ability to do amazing things if only we were given the chance and we love an underdog” – Nigel Odell, Producer & Owner Clock End Films.

There are numerous lessons from Cliff Young’s extraordinary story and achievements:

  • He refused to accept “no”
  • He refused to adopt other people’s limitations and beliefs
  • He refused to be swayed or stopped by other people’s mockery
  • He refused to give in or give up – he pushed on right to the finish line. “I like to finish what I start doing. I like to see it through to the end, to the best of my ability” said Cliff Young in 1977 interview.

But possibly the greatest lesson from Cliff Young and the other athletes is the power of belief. When the marathon runners began the race, they believed they would need to run for 18 hours and sleep 6 (but they were wrong); they believed that the past equals the future and based on past experience, they believed that the race would take about 7 days – but again they were wrong.

On the other hand, Cliff Young believed he could do it. He believed he could keep running day and night; he believed he didn’t need the finest, high-tech running shoes to complete the course or win the race; he believed that age didn’t matter to winning and achievement; he believed in giving it all – giving all of yourself.

Simply put, Cliff Young believed anything was possible; all he needed was to be given the opportunity.

What do you believe?

What do you believe about yourself and life?

Do you know that you will find what you are looking for?

If you believe that life has to be tough, that is what you will find and experience.

If you believe what other people say about you, then you will become that.

If you believe you are a loser, then you will live up to that.

If you believe it can’t be done, then it won’t.

If you believe there is hope and that you will find a way, then you will find the way.

If you believe that you can do it, that you can be, do and have what you want, then you will be, do and have what you want!

Remember, your inner world creates your outer world; your thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs create your reality. Start from the inside out; change your beliefs to match what you want to create!

You can comment on this newsletter directly below.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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4 replies
    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Peter,
      thank you. Have you also noticed how many Aussie men are cast in roles are heroes? A producer told me that he views Aussie men as being raw, masculine and untainted…and reminiscent of Clint Eastwood. He also said to me that most of the American male roles being cast are still very feminine or watered down.
      All the best,

  1. Avatar
    Patrick Wanis says:

    Dear Tom,

    your points are completely valid.

    Yes, Cliff was not acting on wishful thinking or hope alone. He did have some experience but he still had to believe in his talents and potential because as he stated, it was 2 days more than he had done before – that’s 2 days more of non-stop running – almost twice what he had ever done before.

    I like the way you summed it up “Strength is a process, not a miracle.”
    Thanks and all the best,

  2. Avatar
    Tom Justin says:

    Cliffy’s is a great and inspirational story. But he wasn’t going on blind faith, positive thinking, and hope. He knew his strengths and his limitations. Probably more of the former than latter.

    Who could start that race and finish it, let alone win it, if they hadn’t done the work beforehand? The lack of fancy gear, sponsors, or youthfulness was not the thing. It was experience.

    Too often too many think that wishing makes it so. Nope, doing makes it so. Over and over again.

    Strength is a process, not a miracle.

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