What really is an Ironman?
Is an Ironman that superhero that uses his suit and special powers to protect the world and conquer evil? Is an Ironman what I want to be called when I complete the most challenging endurance race in the world, pushing my strength and endurance to their limits for over 140 miles?
The answer is yes, both descriptions fit the definition of being an Ironman. Recently though, I was struck by the question, “Matthew, what truly is an Ironman?”
That question got me thinking about being an Ironman in the context as a man, a dad, a son, or a friend. It got me thinking that an Ironman means being something much more than being a fictional superhero or an extremely fit endurance athlete?
Being a true Ironman really doesn’t require swimming, biking or running over 140 miles as fast as you can, or having fictional superhero super powers. Being a true Ironman means having the strength to stand up for and to fight for those you love. It means having the endurance to live each day with integrity and honor.
A true Ironman is strong, confident, and fully committed to protecting those who put their faith and trust in me. It means being the rock that those around me can rely on always being there. It’s having the strength, determination and courage to do what is right, even when it’s hard.
Being an Ironman is being patient when patience is being asked of me. It’s respecting the needs of someone else, even when it may mean having faith and letting go.
An Ironman is not the saying, but the doing.
It doesn’t sound like it would be all that hard to be this kind of Ironman, but it is. As parents, as adults, as human beings, we face challenges every day that test our abilities to be an Ironman for our children or those we love. We get impatient or we let pride and selfishness get in the way, keeping us from being what our loved ones need, or causing us to make choices that may hurt them.
Like in training for the ultimate endurance race, being a real Ironman takes determination and commitment. It’s learning from past mistakes and doing the next right thing that will allow me to be an Ironman and be a better dad and a better man.
Yes, I am going to continue to train to complete the world’s most challenging endurance race, but more importantly, I’m going to focus harder on giving everything I can to be a true Ironman each day for the ones I love.
I would rather my children call me an Ironman by the way I live my life each day, than as an Ironman who crosses a finish line at a race.