I’ve just read the inspirational and emotional story of Cliff Young, who, in 1983, ran an ultra-marathon at the age of 61.

 Even better, Cliff wasn’t a professional runner.  He was a sheep farmer who decided to tackle the 875 kilometer (that’s 543 miles!) race from Sydney, Australia to Melbourne, Australia because of this rationale:

I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or four wheel drives, and the whole time I was growing up– until about four years ago when we finally made some money and got a four wheeler– whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep.  We had 2,000 head, and we have 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d catch them. I believe I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.

You can read the inspiring story here.

The elite runners, all in under 40 years old, smoked him off the finish line.  By the end of the first day, they were far ahead and taking their usual 6 hour nap before starting again the next day.

But Cliff didn’t know about the nap.  He never napped rounding up the sheep.  So he kept running.

He ran in overalls and work shoes.  He ran through the night, utilizing a shuffle-like technique that didn’t say “speed” so much as “what the?”

And he won the race.

At age 61, dressed like a sheep farmer, Cliff Young won the world’s most grueling race because he didn’t know the rules and he didn’t stop to think that he might not fit the mold of a runner.

Running a race and running a business are two separate things, but each requires preparation, skill, strategy and a bit of luck.  I’d also suggest that being the underdog or not a conventional “runner” is just an excuse by the “establishment” to discourage you from following your path.

It also helps if you ignore the rules.  I’m convinced that most of the rules were merely suggestions that help a lot of people, but aren’t required.

When I started my cot cover business, I got advice from several funeral professionals and other product makers.  They all wanted me to take out expensive ads in trade magazines and hit the conventions right away.

Because I couldn’t afford that, I decided to forget the rules and hit the Internet.  Then I pushed word of mouth and finally, started this blog.

We’re finally making enough money to hit the conventions (now that I know what I’m doing and my product has been honed properly) and advertise in the trades. 

All because I treated the rules like suggestions.

What rule will you ignore today?