Do you need to be a “selfish b*stard” to win gold medals?

I have been both fascinated and shocked by BBC TVs "On Thin Ice" where James Cracknell, Ben Fogle and Ed Coats attempted to complete the South Pole Challenge.
Fascinated because it was like looking in the mirror seeing James Cracknell push and push and push himself well beyond his comfort zone and limits.  Shocked because it was like looking in a mirror!  Watching his high expectations of himself, the people around him and his inability to stop in the face of huge physical pain really struck a cord.  I am not suggesting he is wrong by any means.  Very far from it in fact.  I have gone on record saying that "James needs Ben" and "Ben needs James" long before the final episode.  Without James Cracknell there is no way they would have finished second and no way Ben would have got across an ocean.  However it also true that without Ben (and Ed) to balance him James would have pushed himself to death.  It got me thinking what it means to really push yourself and the impact it has on you and the people around you.  Is it really selfish to train for hours a day, leave your loved ones for months, demand your team cross unstable crevasse fields without protection just to touch a pole?  Is it really selfish to push so hard that the people around you are hurt and challenged by your actions?  I’m not sure. 
It got me thinking that I am probably wrong seeing endurance as ‘success and failure’ it’s probably more about ‘satisfaction and dissatisfaction’.  "At what point should you be satisfied?" is the real question not "is 89% failure?" 
James Cracknell
Ben Fogle
Ed Coats
Original Blog at | Category: 153 Mile Challenge.
On the 8th June 2009 I completed my first 153 Mile Challenge – 153 Miles by Bike in 7 days or less.  I am currently on 135 miles in 7 days or less for the Walk/Run Challenge and have covered a total distance of 5,500 miles since 2005.
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