One Thing To Do No Matter What

In the fall of 2007 I heard an Olympic champion and passionate public speaker move an audience to tears, several times, with his tale of tragedy, perseverance, redemption, and ultimately, heartbreaking courage. The man was Dan Gable, the legendary wrestler with an unmatchable work ethic and dedication to success. Even today his accomplishments remain unparalleled in the sports world. But more powerful than his physical attributes was his personal story…

Gable grew up in Waterloo, Iowa with an obsession for wrestling. He started making a name for himself in high school, and was living a relatively normal life of a small-town American boy. That was until tragedy tore apart his family during a weekend vacation.

While Gable and his parents were out of town, his older sister was raped and murdered. He was devastated by these events and blamed himself for what had happened. His sister’s death haunted Gable for his entire life, and at that young age he turned his rage inward and became obsessed with training and for redeeming his sister’s life through his performance on the wrestling mat.

His training habits became legendary. He was the first one into practice and the last one out. Workouts were performed with the mantra of “Push to Collapse.” Each session was dedicated to working so hard he would have to be physically carried off the wrestling mat by the end. One by one he exhausted all of his training partners on his high school and eventually college teams.

While he was never able to truly break himself, his training led to a high school championship and an undefeated record in college that spanned several years. That was until the unthinkable happened.

Wrestling in his final match at the NCAA level, just before Gable was expected to go on and win the Gold medal at the 1972 Olympics, his unbeaten record came to an end in a shocking upset in the finals. The world was stunned. In tears, Gable left the mat in utter disappointment, feeling he had let down the memory of his sister. But he soon returned to training his Push to Collapse approach.

Eventually he would have his redemption. Gable went on to win the Gold medal at the ’72 Olympics by dominating his competition, no doubt in large part due to his training philosophy and dedication to working harder than anyone else in the world.

He told of one practice where he would drag his teammates out of the locker room one by one at the end of a session with the hopes they would push him to the brink of exhaustion. But still, it never happened. He was never able to push to collapse, but this attitude of pushing through the dark days surrounding both his sister’s death and his devastating loss in the final match of his college career was what allowed him to become the best in the world at what he did. It allowed him to become a legend.

What drive and determination. Dan Gable was truly a man who was determined to make the most of the gifts he had been given.

Do you hold the same attitude?

Are you willing to keep on pushing?

Are you determined, no matter how bad it gets, to keep on taking action?

Everyone suffers through setbacks.

We all have dark days and dips in the road.

But there remains one undeniable truth. No matter how bad things might feel, no matter how tough your current situation, the truth is someone, somewhere, in worse circumstances than yours right now, was able to rise up and overcome those obstacles to go on and succeed at achieving their dreams.

There was once a girl raised in the slums of Chicago. She was repeatedly assaulted as a young woman. She had an underprivileged background and had to fight against stereotyping based on the color of her skin. But each day she kept on pushing. She had a dream for herself, a vision for her life, and goals for her career. One day at a time she continued to take action. She worked and kept on pushing, earning opportunity after opportunity. She didn’t quit.

Eventually she had a breakthrough in a small TV market, after which she earned another opportunity and then another. Over time, this young woman, Oprah Winfrey, would become an inspiration to millions of women. All because she did not quit even though the odds were heavily against her. Oprah kept on pushing.

Keep on Pushing.

This is a phrase that has popped up in countless replies to Transformation Contest members as they detail their struggles and hopes in their daily accountability updates. It’s a phrase I’ve been posting for years to members of my fat loss website, on Facebook, and even in our daily ETR Q’n’A sessions.

When someone does well, “Congratulations, now Keep on Pushing” is my comment.

When someone is struggling, “Stay Strong. Keep on Pushing” are my words of advice.

It doesn’t matter where you are in life, in business, or in your relationships, if you’re going after something that matters, you just have to Keep on Pushing.

Just Act.

Just Ask.

Just Solve Problems for Others.

Just Ask for Help for Yourself.

Just Admit When You Are Wrong.

Just Connect. Just Grow. Just Help.

Just Push.

Just do it and stop finding reasons to postpone it.

When you get stuck, Keep on Pushing.

Learn your lesson, readjust your course, and Push again.

Use your leverage.

And Push.

Strain and struggle.

Dig Deep.

And Push.

Never give up on something that is important to you,

Back to Dan Gable. As he wrapped up his speech, he recounted a story with tears in his eyes and voice cracking. Recently, while away giving one of his many speeches, his daughter participated in an 800-meter race against the state champion. Gable’s wife delivered the play-by-play commentary via cell phone.

It turned out to be a remarkable day for his daughter. She started strong, not only keeping pace with the highly-favored state champion, but eventually taking the lead down the home stretch. Two hundred meters to go, then one hundred. Her daughter was still in the lead. She was on the verge of a massive upset victory.

Suddenly, the line went silent. At first he thought he had lost the connection. Then moments later, in shock, his wife began to speak again.

Gable’s daughter had literally pushed to collapse. Within meters of the finish line she had given everything she could and her legs had simply given out. She fell down within site of the finish, physically unable to go any further.

As Gable explained with great pride in his heart and tears in his eyes, “My daughter did what I could never do. She pushed to collapse.”

No matter how dark the day, no matter how deep the dip in your life, when all else fails all you can do is keep on pushing. It’s what you must do no matter what life throws at you.

Never lose your drive and determination. Never give up on something that is important to you. Keep on pushing through anything and everything. No matter what.

In what area of your life are you going to go and start pushing harder?

  • 230
  • Thanks, I needed that.

  • Eric Asante

    I am realy touched by the post and would seriously comply and adapt to continue pushing no matter what difficulties I am going through and like the best example of Gable, I know someday I would overcome and have my own internet businness.. Never say die until the bones are rotten! So ruff and tuff but i have to push hard to accomplish this dream

  • Andy

    Yes, this is what Naruto is all about. Same philosophy. And people wonder why I watch naruto.

  • Sunday F. Nathaniel

    Thank you so much. Will be Pushing no matter what.

  • Sunday F. Nathaniel

    Thank you for your thoughts and encouraging words and from now on, nothing will stand on my way not to arrive at my goal. I will keep pushing on until i reach my goal.

  • Paul C. Pellioni

    Great article! One of your best.

  • Joseph Lapierre

    Best darn article by a long sot

  • Valerie Durham

    While I normally enjoy the Early to Rise articles, this one left me extremely disappointed. Of course, perseverance is critical to overcoming obstacles and trials and life, as well as to finding success, the idea of “pushing to collapse” is ridiculous, foolhardy and even dangerous. None of us should “push ourselves to collapse” (except perhaps in the most life-threatening situations). Work hard, yes, but also take care of yourself. Keep a balanced life. Be aware of the messages life is sending you as well (sometimes we need to change directions, NOT “push through.”).

    Life is hard, but none of us needs to add our own crazy “push to collapse” to have a happy, fulfilling and successful life.

    Ridiculous and dangerous. Yuck.

  • These words are more inspiring to me on this day, MLK Day, than any other day. I’ve spent my life pushing my self to the break.

  • Shiraz A.

    Thanks a million….Just what I needed. It’s so true we usually give up and take an easy way out, by giving up. I will be reading this every day to keep reminding myself to not giveup so fast. Thanks Again.

  • Best article ever. Now keep pushing!
    Thank you Craig for making this world a better place.

  • Trevor

    Hi Craig,

    I was actually at that Furey seminar as well. Dan Gable’s talk was very moving and you summed it up well. I’m very glad you reminded me of it. I need to be reminded to quit whining and take action.
    (Side note: I met you in the hall during a break and told you I had just purchased TT. Being the marketer that you are, you asked me questions about what made me purchase it, what did I think of it, etc….and you were truly interested in my answers. )
    Thanks Craig,

  • Marion Lynn Connell

    I really liked that one. It was inspiring. Thank you. @

  • Esther

    So inspiring!!

    I love to read stories like this! Thanks, Craig, for sharing!

    We need more people like you in this world…

    Just Keep on pushing as you never will know how far you could have gone if you did stop along the way. So, never stop! Keep on pushing!!!

  • As a Sports Performance Coach with a concentration on wrestlers and MMA athletes, I’m a huge fan of Mr. Gable…and Craig Ballantyne too!

    Any time I find myself holding back or thinking about quitting, I think about Gable’s relentless, tenacious work ethic and mental strength. Workouts are sacred.

    Any time I start doubting myself in regard to entrepreneurship and my online business, I refer back to anything written by Craig Ballantyne.

    Thank you Gentlemen,


  • Paul

    This reminds me of my favorite quote: “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
    Calvin Coolidge speaking to Amhurst college

  • Rebecca

    CRIMENY! I’m printing and posting to my office wall! Thank you.

  • M Guney

    Thought the same thing. Pushing hard, and keeping pushing, these are two great tools. But, without the third tool, intelligent planning (adding continuous small improvements, taking breaks to recharge, sometimes changing strategy, etc.), these may easily lead to physical injury or mental burnout.

  • ttcert

    Happy to help!

  • ttcert

    Thank you Paul!

  • Andrew McDermot

    Definitely one of the best articles I have ever read from you Craig. It honestly chocked me up. Very powerful.

    • ttcert


  • Elva

    No. Absolutely horrible advice. Yes, each one of us can usually push a bit more each day. However, as one who actually did push to collapse 18 years ago, I have never fully healed. To this day, I am limited in what I am able to do physically. Serious arthritis in both shoulders, tendinitis and muscle aches in both arms mean that many activities are out of reach for me. And there continue to be fairly regular articles in the news about people who pushed to final collapse, as in dropping dead, usually young athletes (football, basketball, etc.) who had unknown heart problems, etc. Then there was the young banker who pulled several all night sessions in addition to his day hours.

    If there is a life or death situation, then it _might_ be justified. But few people can make good decisions when they are exhausted. Remember the fable of the hare and the tortoise. I would be interested to know whether Dan Gable’s daughter suffered any long term serious health problems after collapsing just shy of the finish line. “All things in moderation.”

  • Raleigh

    Outstanding post, Craig! What a way to start the week as I attack my goals. Will be printing this out to read to my wife and kids at the dinner table tonight. Thank you!

    • ttcert

      Thank you!

  • Raleigh

    Agreed, Paul. One of my favorite quotes as well. None of us can ever hear it enough so thanks for posting.

  • ttcert

    Happy to help!

  • ttcert

    I appreciate your Point of view, thank you.

  • ttcert

    Thank you Esther!

  • ttcert

    Thank you Marion!

  • Dewey

    Thanks for this!! Dan Gable has been a hero of mine. And I needed this pick me up!

    • Tom Brands’ #1 fan

      I’m guessing you’re a pretty good guy Dewey! You’re one on my heroes!!!

  • Sabina Rodgers Seifert

    ‘No matter how dark the day, no matter how deep the dip in your life, when all else fails all you can do is keep on pushing. It’s what you must do no matter what life throws at you.’

    ‘Never lose your drive and determination. Never give up on something that is important to you. Keep on pushing through anything and everything. No matter what.’

    Dear Craig, you have no idea how this affected me. My husband died just over a month ago, and I have been through the darkest days and deepest despair of my life, and just trying to find my way and purpose has been an impossible task. However, he has left a legacy (he was a musician, and so am I) which I am going to keep alive. He has also inspired me to pursue my own musical path in ways I would not have considered before. I am determined to push through anything and everything to make this happen. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your note, Sabina. Stay strong. – Craig

  • Luciano Del Monte

    Duly noted bro. Thx for this amazing story of perseverance. We must crash through emotional, physical, relational, spiritual and mental quitting points. At 62, I am aching in parts of my mind, body and spirit, but moving forward. As long as I can run, I’ll run, and when I can walk, ‘I’ll walk, and when I can only crawl, well, that’s what I’ll do. But for now, I am running and stumbling with a limp or two, but moving higher up and deeper in.