Rusty Lion

Best friends!

I’m lucky to have several!  I don’t know if there’s a rule on this.  Should you have only one?  I don’t know, and quite frankly, I don’t care.  All I can tell you is that the good Lord has blessed me with more than a handful!  These are people I choose to do life with—who I can talk with about anything (and I mean anything) going on in my life.  These are also people whose company I enjoy.  They have my back, and they know that I have theirs.  These folks would drop everything if I told them I needed their help, and they know that I’d do the same for them.

These are my “Proverbs 27:17″ friends.  “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Enough said.

It is about one of these friends, and what he’s going after in his life, that I want to talk about today.

Several years ago, I was leading a pretty large men’s group at our church.  One Friday morning, I paired the men up in 3’s and gave them some questions to discuss.  I paired myself up with my friend, Matt Fagioli, and a guy that I didn’t know, Bill Watkins.

I had seen Bill over the course of several weeks.  He was a big guy, very strong looking, and quiet.  You could tell that he was a good listener, but I’d never heard him speak.

That morning, during our discussion, I took notice!  When Bill spoke, it was with a quiet, but very strong confidence.  Looking back, I would actually use the work “humble” when trying to describe his manner of communication, but I would have to add the word “strength” to it also.  “Steel and velvet” would maybe be the best description of what I saw that morning.

Bill and I began a friendship that morning that has now spanned about eight or nine years. We’ve walked together through life; arm-in-arm, back-to-back, shoulder-to-shoulder.  With another of my best friend’s—Celso Fernandez, we’ve experienced many of the toughest situations that life could possibly throw at you—and we’ve done it together! (We call ourselves “The 3” after the leaders of David’s Mighty Men, but that’s another story.)  Just understand this—we are warriors!  If you’re one, you understand.

As with all of my best friends, I have learned a great deal by being around Bill.  One of the biggest things I’ve learned is the power of focus.

Bill graduated with honors from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Back in the 70’s and 80’s, he was also a world-class athlete who traveled all over the globe competing in skiing and cycling.  Over the years, Bill has run several businesses and built his own company, the Marena Group, into one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world for the products that he makes.

Bill understands goals.  He is gifted at finding the right thing to focus on, and then with laser-like focus, going after it.

In 2008, Bill was going through the most difficult season of his life.  I am not going to go into details here—it’s not pertinent to the story, but what he was fighting, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

One day, Bill made the decision to get back into competitive cycling.  But Bill did what most of us wouldn’t.  He didn’t set a small goal; he set the biggest goal that was possible for him in cycling:

“Win the Master’s National Championships in Two Years”

Over the last 22 months, I’ve watched Bill train.  He averages about 250 miles a week, 50 weeks a year.   Put a calculator to that, and you’ll see that he’s cycling over 12,000 miles a year!!!  Competitive cycling is at the top of the list when it comes to hardest endurance sports on the planet.  The training is brutal.  As I write this, he’s riding in +90° heat everyday.  Personally, I could never do what Bill is doing—I truly wouldn’t want to.  In my perspective, what he goes through everyday is close to torture.

People tell me that I can be a pretty intense guy—very focused at times, so you can call me “the freak.”  But Bill’s “THE FREAK!!!!!!!  He lives in a whole, different galaxy!

Just within the last month, Bill has won the Master’s Championships in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia!  Not by seconds, but by minutes.  And he’s not racing average people—he’s competing with elite athletes.  Many times, to get the challenge he needs, he’s racing 20 and 30-year-old pros–and he’s lapping them!

Bill’s journey to attain this goal will end on August 31st of this year.   It will happen in Bend, Oregon.  Baring some sort of an accident, or some kind of fluke, my friend Bill will step up on the platform and become the Master’s National Champion.  I know this as sure as I know my name.

But understand this.  Bill isn’t going after this goal just for a medal around his neck. He’s bigger than that.  This will open other doors for Bill to truly have even more of an impact on people’s lives than he has to this point.  The win is going to give Bill a very big platform in order to inspire people in their own walks through life.  And that’s what Bill is all about.

I want you to read learn more about Bill by visiting his website, Rusty Lion and hitting the tab marked “Competitive Cycling.”  He’s got a great blog if you’d like to begin following an amazing journey.  Subscribe to it—but read mine first!!!!!  

So what’s the point of all this?

People who have an impact with their lives—whose lives mean something bigger than themselves, are people who get very specific about one or two things they want to go after, and then they put sustained effort and action into it’s accomplishment—with all of their hearts and with every fiber of their being.

Years ago, I heard Zig Ziggler ask, “Do you want to be a wandering generality, or a meaningful specific.”  That statement has stayed with me for more than thirty years.  That question’s had a big impact on my life and I want it to have an impact on yours too.

I believe that everyone was born on purpose—for a purpose.

So what about you?  What is it that you choose—Right Now to go after?  Where do you feel that God is calling you to be more of a meaningful specific?

You can do it!  But you’ve got to figure out what “it” is.  And then you’ve got to focus.  You’ve got to commit.  And then, as Cortéz did many years ago—you’ve got to burn the ships.

Bill committed 22 months ago.  Bill will win his race.  And God will say, “Well done!” to my friend one day.

Will he say the same to you?

I hope so!

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  1. Donna Anderson-Lappin
    Donna Anderson-Lappin07-09-2011

    Beautiful tribute to Bill, Robert! He has been
    and is today a great inspiration to myself and
    many others. All three of you men: Celso, Bill
    and yourself possess such glorious souls~continue
    to spread that beauty to others for it is truly
    inspiring as well as contagious! My Uncle Henry
    (gone but never/ever to be forgotten…) said to me when I was
    a young girl two things: “Dare to be different” and
    “Make a difference in this world”. He was a
    wise man as are the three of you… True friends, true
    Warriors. Bless you, and continue to make a difference!
    these three warriors

    • Robert Mallon
      Robert Mallon07-09-2011

      Very kind words Donna. All I can say is “As iron sharpens iron…” Thank you!

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