Madden on Excellence: From Adversity to Excellence

As I child growing up in a dysfunctional home in an inner-city area, I learned about the realities of adversity. Adversity was all around me and overcoming challenges both at school and at home were a major part of my everyday world. To manage these uncertainties, I learned the importance of persistence and always striving to do my best in all endeavors no matter how bad things appeared.

Athletics was the place that seemed to be my niche and where I was in my element. During practice and competition, my desire to reach a high level of performance became one of the character traits that allowed me to embrace “excellence.” Performing at a high level in the competitive arena was rewarding and gratifying. It gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Participating in football and swimming during high school prepared me for my future as a triathlete and taught me the importance of dealing with adversity, being passionate, showing character and grit, striving to be “in the zone,” and inspiring others to go for “par excellence.”

These series of blogs are entitled, “Madden on Excellence” because I’m Madden and they’re about my vast experience and accomplishments as a triathlete. They’re also about excellence: in everything. Excellence in training. Excellence in racing. Excellence of body. Excellence of mind. Excellence in life.

The sport of triathlon can be transformational for competitors and for spectators and provide opportunities to experience excellence. There is something unique and special about someone who strives to do his or her best in three different disciplines, unsure about what can and what will happen next. Sometimes you are on the “razors edge” and uncertain about how you will feel in the next segment of a race. Spectators are often inspired and moved by the courage that is shown by athletes and somehow there becomes an emotional connection that gives the athlete hope, self-worth, and the desire to continue and finish strong!

During my journey and preparation for an upcoming season or major competition, my focus is on overcoming adversity and keeping a front-sight focus on excellence. My positive self-talk and calmness allows me to visualize being in an event seeing myself being smooth, relaxed, efficient, and steady. As a coach, I work with my athletes to unlock their potential, set attainable goals, and continue with their personal quests to reach their own level of distinction, greatness, and merit. In my everyday world, the positive mind-set of doing quality work again and again in all endeavors is beyond fulfilling.

Think about how you can benefit from striving for excellence as you approach a difficult situation in your life or in preparation for an upcoming race. As you head out for your next early morning swim session, turn the corner on your bike to climb a major hill, or start a run with tired legs, let go of the adversity and always keep looking forward to a self-fulfilling prophecy that will bring you joy, happiness, and another encounter with excellence!

Look for more "Madden on Excellence" insight, advice, and encouragement in the future.

KURT MADDEN is an IRONMAN Certified Coach, USAT Certified Coach Level I, and TriDot Coach with an M.A. in Exercise Physiology. He is a 3-time top ten IRONMAN World Championships finisher, a 2-time winner of the Ultraman World Championships, a 2-time top ten finisher at the Leadville 100-Mile Trail Run, a 2-time IRONMAN North American age group champion, a 2-time IRONMAN All World Athlete age group world champion, a 25-time IRONMAN finisher and a 3-time Ultraman finisher. In July of 2016, he founded TriPrime LLC and is currently coaching 50 triathletes throughout the world. He and his wife, Kelly, live in San Diego.

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