A Lesson in Toughness


William Wilson, CEO William Wilson Clothing

Imagine vomiting, while driving 190mph, racing 42 other drivers, for 600 miles, in 140 degrees. Sounds brutal doesn’t it. It sounds more like a scene from a futuristic prison movie with a sadistic warden that entertains himself by making prisoners race for their lives. But this is no movie. This isn’t even a plot for a book. This is what happened Sunday to Kevin Conway as he raced in the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. As a former military man, and as clothier to a number of NFL players, I have seen my share of displays of toughness. I have seen men get cortisone shots to play in a football game. I have seen men willing to stay and fight even with bullet holes in them and bleeding profusely. One place I never thought I would see the type of  toughness to impress me enough to write a blog,  is on a NASCAR track. But that is exactly what I saw this past Sunday.

Kevin Conway is is the driver of the #37 Extenze Ford, and is competing for Rookie of the Year. Kevin was an associate, that turned into a client, that has turned into a friend. His story is one of perseverance and dedication. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth ands he has worked for everything he has achieved. Even with his rise to the sports highest series, Kevin has remained humble and very accessible to fans, as evident by his appearance at a Tweetup at Charlotte Motor Speedway last Sunday.

When I was hanging with Kevin at the Tweetup, who would’ve thought just a few short hours later, his world would turn completely upside down and while having one of the best performances of the season, he would be living in his own private hell. Kevin got extremely sick early in the race. Before long, as I read his tweets (@ExtenzeRacing), it became obvious. Kevin was not in a good place. I read the first report of him throwing up. Now vomiting is bad enough. But imagine vomiting into a helmet, as you drive 190mph, inches away from other cars going 190mph, for 600 miles. A helmet that you have to keep on, mind you. My friends, that is toughness personified. Most people would’ve called it a day. I know, I’ve seen it happen numerous times. As a matter of fact, Michael McDowell was standing by to take over for him. But Kevin never relinquished the wheel. He toughed it out, finishing 35th.

Kevin Conway- Driver of the #37 Extenze Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

This led me to wonder. How many of us have that same drive and toughness. I read tweets of people “On the grind”,or “making it happen” or have all these dreams. This is fine, but success comes from persevering through tough times; even when you don’t want to. In your darkest hour, you find out who you really are. It’s easy to move forward when things are going well. But what about when things go bad? How tough are you? Many of us would like to think we would stay in the car, but we wouldn’t. I see people give up on their dreams of becoming successful business people everyday. Sometimes, they have bad ideas. Sometimes, they are too arrogant to ask for, or receive, advice of others that know better. And sometimes, they just give up because it’s too hard, and they aren’t as tough as they thought.

Imagine if everyone gave up when times get tough. Where would the success come from. What if Jesus would have given up on us, when we fell short our 100th time? What if Ben Franklin would’ve given up on discovering electricity? What if you would’ve given up on your dreams? Where would you be now? Where would others be? I am able to help a number of people achieve success, through the success I have attained. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t “arrived” yet, but I am well on my way. What if I gave up? And don’t think I haven’t thought about it. There have been times when I have sat in my house and just cried. When I was scared, confused, and felt like no one else understood, what I was trying to do. When I didn’t know which way to turn, or where to go. There were times when I wanted to give up. When people thought I was crazy and my goal was too high. But I didn’t. I persevered. I called on the 2 people all good Southern boys call on. Jesus, and my mama. Afterwards, I reached down to the same place Kevin did and said “I’m staying in the car.” I stayed in the car and drove,and I reached the finish line. I didn’t always finish first, but the important part is I finished.

Success isn’t about always winning. Sometimes it’s about participating and putting yourself in a position to win. As  my friend Michael Foster (@lyfelong) CEO of SwaggerTV.com calls it, “Position of Power”. Life is like chess, the moves you make determines the power of the pieces. And you must always be 3-4 moves ahead of where you are. Do you have the toughness to be successful? Do you have the toughness to be great? Only you can answer that question. For only you know how far you are willing to go to see your dream through. Until next time…

God bless and dress well,

William Wilson, CEO

William Wilson Clothing

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