In the 1900’s, America was so crazy for harness racing that over 1,000 tracks dotted the country, and THE sports celebrity of the time was a racehorse, not a person.
His name was Dan Patch.
In 1901, Dan’s rookie year of racing in the big league – the Grand Circuit – he won every race in which he competed, and began flirting with the 2:00 mile, then the bar of greatness for a Standardbred. By mid-1902, tracks and bookmakers refused bets on him, forcing him to be raced only in non-wagering exhibitions.
For the rest of his career, his only opponent was the clock. His second owner, who had him from that 2nd year on, paid $60,000.00 for him — $1.3-million in today’s dollars. In 1903, Dan Patch set a world’s record of 1:56-1/2, racing by himself. A life-threatening illness impaired is 1904 season, but he still managed to break his own record, hitting 1:56.
In 1905, 200,000 people came out to see him tour….64,000 at the Minnesota State Fair, an astounding 82,000 at one exhibition in Allentown, Pennsylvania. And he set another record at 1:55-1/4.
Which would stand for 20 years before being broken, and 1:55 pacers are in the top tier of harness racing yet today. He was truly a super-horse, possibly the greatest racehorse who ever lived – because he performed at a peak level without requiring competing horses to egg him on.
He went undefeated in 56 competitive races, then toured in his record-setting exhibitions, then late in his career, toured the country in his own custom-built railroad car, drawing crowds as large as 5,000 who gathered just to see him up close.
There’s really never been anybody quite like him. You might compare him to a Babe Ruth or Muhammad Ali.
The book Crazy Good is the in-depth and fascinating biography of this amazing equine athlete and celebrity, his life and times, and his uplifting impact on this nation. I recommend the book.
He’s symbolic of one of the key elements separating extraordinarily high achievers from the Mediocre Majority: peak performance all the time, every time, without requiring external motivation.
When Dan Patch turned the right way of the track, he raced all out against nothing but a stopwatch, instinctively endeavoring to hit faster fractions, to beat his own records.
Few people get up every morning, tackle every day, every project, every phone call, every meeting, every speech, etc. self-determined to better their best, to excel.
Few measure their own performance in any way, let alone by stopwatch.
Consequently very few people have 200,000 people a year lining up to watch them work, in awe. 5,000 coming out to a train station, for a meet ‘n greet, years after they’ve retired, out of respect. In fact, that’s a pretty good question: are people in awe at your prolific output, quality of work and success?
If they came as audience and watched you perform from dawn to dark for a week or a month, would they then, still be in awe?
A breakthrough path to lasting fame and fortune in your small business is to find at least one thing you can learn to do, master, make your own, so that when you do it, you amaze and astound and fascinate others. But the even bigger breakthrough is to do that thing with the same commitment, passion and productivity when nobody’s watching as when ‘on stage.’
Very few people work like that.