Sunny Lawrence is the wife of James “The Iron Cowboy” Lawrence. A Guinness World Record holder, James is well known for completing 50 Ironman races in 50 consecutive days, through all 50 US States. He has shared his story in several Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) speaking events. Sunny proudly considers herself the woman behind the Iron Man. She and James live in Utah with their five children. She shares her perspective as an entrepreneur’s partner.
“You are like a puppy dog that just blindly follows James around. You have no backbone and he just walks all over you.”
I’ve always had a very strong personality. I was definitely a loud-mouth and a self-proclaimed comedian growing up. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that being funny, confident and strong really were personality traits that I was born with and never really needed to work for.
When James and I met, I knew he wanted to be a professional golfer. My dad is an entrepreneur, so it wasn’t foreign to me at all to have dreams, BIG dreams. As time passed, his goals evolved, but they were always entrepreneurial. I had no problem supporting James in his non-conventional goals and I pursued conventional goals for myself.
When the accusation was made that I let James walk all over me, I started laughing! Clearly, this person didn’t know me very well. My response, “Never in my life have I been accused of being a pathetic puppy dog, following ANYONE around, and lacking a backbone.”
Over the years, this has stayed with me. I still chuckle when I reflect on this statement. How often do we form opinions on situations that we know nothing about? Another assumption made is that because I am in the background, working behind the scenes, I am being taken advantage of, and that I am missing out on all the fun, fame and attention.
First of all, this is partially true for any mother. We work our butts off, 24/7, looking after lots of people, and tending to far too many schedules. This is the basic structure of being a mom, and to be honest, it’s kind of awesome. But I think the misconception comes when people assume that James is fulfilling his dreams while I do all the work and watch him succeed, while I rot and do nothing.
I think the misconception comes when people assume that James is fulfilling his dreams while I do all the work and watch him succeed…
First things first, James and I have very different personalities. He CRAVES the adventure. Me? No thank you!
Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, James has non-conventional dreams. I am perfectly content with conventional and boring goals. I spend every day of my life setting goals and knocking them out of the park. I don’t need to do 50 iron-distance triathlons, in 50 states, in 50 days to feel accomplished. I am stoked about getting the kitchen cleaned up, getting the closet organized, cheering up the weary-hearted and helping my kids accomplish their goals.
Third, and most importantly, we live in a society that is all about competition. We aren’t encouraged in our culture to help others, or cheer them on, as they accomplish THEIR goals. We are trained to be competitive, talk them down, and downplay other peoples’ successes. Well, if this is your standard, I am an aimless puppy dog, being taken advantage of. But let me offer you another perspective: When you care about someone, you care about the things that they care about.
We are trained to be competitive, talk them down, and downplay other peoples’ successes. Well, if this is your standard, I am an aimless puppy dog, being taken advantage of.
For example, when James tells me that LeBron is sitting out a game or that Tiger Woods made the cut for the weekend tournament, I show interest. Not because I care about LeBron or Tiger, but because I care about James.
When James sets a goal, it is my privilege to support him and be excited for him in his goal, no matter what it is. When he succeeds, the success feels just as pure as if I had accomplished this goal of my own.
When James sets a goal, it is my privilege to support him and be excited for him in his goal, no matter what it is.
Frankly, it is MORE rewarding than when I accomplish my own goals. I am so invested and so connected with James through his journey, that it means everything to me because I care about him.
So going back to my opening line, do I just follow him blindly? Not even close. Anyone who knows us knows that I wear the pants. But they also know that I am walking side-by-side, holding the hand of the man I love, cheering him on and sometimes pulling him toward his goal.
Together, we make an incredible team, and my life is far more interesting with him as my best friend.
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