What Greatness Looks Like in 12 Steps?

Forgive me, I am going to indulge myself in a little daughterly pride here and no, at 35 years of age, she is no longer little!

In fact her true bigness lies within, as it does with us all.

All of us have a potential that often remains untapped, but when unleashed, has a profound effect on our own lives and the lives of others.

Nikki’s formative years were spent exploring our 5-acre property in the hills of Perth, Western Australia. If her Wellington boots were not on the front door mat around daybreak, we knew where she would be.

We moved to Singapore when she was eight and later onto Hong Kong, where she pursued her studies and love of swimming.

Unlike many of her peers, she opted to forego much of her social life for hours and hours of training.

Last weekend, out of 1,247 athletes, she earned 3rd place in her category in the 2017 IRONMAN Triathlon in Cairns, which consisted of a 4 km swim, 180 km bike ride and 42 km run. This got me thinking, not only how great she is, but what can lead any of us to greatness. So here we go:

  • Greatness attribute # 1 – be willing to embrace making sacrifices, which in the end, are not sacrifices at all! You will find you have gained so much more.
  • Greatness attribute # 2 – Never give up, even when the going gets tough, very tough!.
  • Greatness attribute # 3 – Be an inspiration to others. Your true greatness lies in your heart. Listen and follow your heart and you will be lead to the most extraordinary people, places and experiences.
  • Greatness attribute # 4 – adopt the value of integrity and in particular, that component which drives you to keep your promises to yourself and others. When you say you are going to do something; do it!
  • Greatness attribute # 5 – identify and follow your passion, purpose and joy. All of us have a Life Purpose, one of our tasks in life is to find out what we came here to do, do it and share it with others.
  • Greatness attribute # 6 – persist; stay on your path even when your mind and body want to give up. You never know how close you may be to success. Keep going!
  • Greatness attribute # 7 – dedicate yourself to unwavering commitment to any and all goals. Nothing happens until you make a commitment.
  • Greatness attribute # 8 – be resilient, bounce back, get up again and persist. Challenges overcome, are the path to greatness, see our friend Sam Cawthorn’s story for an excellent example.
  • Greatness attribute # 9 – exercise your strongest willpower to overcome the obstacles, barriers and challenges, the latter will give you more tenacity and confidence.
  • Greatness attribute # 10 – keep the end goal firmly in mind and FEEL what it feels like to have achieved it. Maintain that feeling unwaveringly, despite the odds may be stacking up against you or doubts arising in your mind.
  • Greatness attribute # 11 – love what you do! Let’s face it, engaged in passionless work or activities are not going to land you in greatness. But passion-filled work and things you love doing that gets you out of bed early in the mornings, will be a good start.
  • Greatness attribute # 12 – whenever you feel great about what you are doing or have achieved, languish in that feeling and know you have given it your best shot.

Here is Nikki’s recount of her experience last weekend and as you read, notice how the above 12 points apply to her story. 

Race Report – Ironman Cairns, 2017 by Nikki Pursell

Nikki Pursell

Nikki Pursell

I had a great lead up, managing to get through months of training without injury, and a win at Busselton 70.3 a month before was a nice last minute confidence boost.

I’d been self-coaching and writing my own plan in training peaks since 70.3 Worlds in September last year. I’d taken all the valuable expertise I’d learnt from coach Alvin and adapted it to the long and slow race that is IRONMAN. 

The full distance presented a whole new challenge in pacing and reigning in the ego and I was excited and a little nervous to see how I’d go for my first one.

A rolling start meant I would never know where my competition would be but also that I could never give up. My race plan was to be super conservative in the swim and on the bike, as I’d never run a marathon before and had no idea how the body would hold up.

I’d never run a marathon before and had no idea how the body would hold up. 

The swim was tough and choppy but I actually quite enjoyed it and somehow managed 8th female overall out of the water. I settled in for the long haul on the 180km of awesome undulating bike course.

Many times I had to let people go when they raced past me up the hills but I held my nerve and held my power, and just hoped I’d see them again on the run!

While I was generally really comfortable for the whole bike leg, I’ve never been so pleased to start the most daunting part of the day….

I had a smile on my face for the whole first run lap, and I felt awesome. My biggest challenge at that point was to run slower!

On the second lap I reached the ‘great unknown’ having never run more than 28km before. I tried to not focus on this and just worked on ticking off each km at a time.

I could feel some tightness creeping into both quads and I started to worry I was heading towards a double leg cramp! This was when I started walking a few aid stations and hitting up the watermelon and electrolytes, and had a shot of some foul tasting, but potentially effective ‘crampfix’.

The tightness and pain never went away but the cramps didn’t eventuate either, so I think it might have done its job. I started hanging out to see Aaron (My husband) as my high spirits were slipping. When I saw him out there battling his head-cold and his demons, I knew he wasn’t going to execute the race he was capable of, and it was up to me to do it for the team.

It was a relief to pick up the third and final lap band, but they were such long laps! I was buoyed by the idea that I was coming to the end of the day, and as the sky got dark and I knew I was going to get it done. With 4km to go, I hit the final turn and was heading for home. I picked up the pace a little to finish it off.

This was my biggest surprise of the day. My lowest point in 10 hours – where I hit a rock hard brick wall – was at the 40km mark. I literally had nothing left. I expected the last 2km to be the most amazing experience, but I was done!

So it was sheer relief that I finally dragged myself onto the carpet and down the finish chute!

On reflection, I’m not disappointed that I didn’t get to have the most energetic finish line celebration because I think I nailed my pacing. I didn’t want to hit the wall at the 20km mark, and I didn’t want to leave anything in the tank.

Despite hitting rock bottom, I had managed to hang on to my pace for dear life. Remember how I said never give up in a rolling start? Seven seconds was what separated me and the next girl. I’d caught her at km 41.

So my final lesson of the day was that you have to just keep pushing because anything can happen in an Ironman!

Cairns this year was near perfect conditions other than the chop in the swim and a bit of a headwind back into town. It was overcast, so not hot, and humidity was low. The scenery and spectator support were unlike any race I’ve ever done. I loved the rolling hills and winding roads of the bike course. I’d definitely recommend this for a racecation!

Finally, the numbers:

  • Swim – 1 hr 00 min 13 sec
  • Bike – 5 hrs 33 mins
  • Run – 3 hrs 47 mins
  • Overall – 10 hrs 28 mins 47 secs
  • 3rd in Age Group
  • 26th Female
  • Qualified for Kona - IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - 2017Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i

And no, I didn’t take my Kona spot. That can be a challenge for another year!

Final question: What is it you aspire to be great at?


Rick’s passion and purpose in life is clear, and everything he does supports this.   His journey in life has been hardly a straight line.  Returning from the battles of combat in the Vietnam War at just 22-years old, he was a self-described - “broken man”.   Rising up from this, he undertook both a corporate business path in the energy sector, as well as a spiritual one, studying with masters across India, China and SE Asia.  Rick is a TEDx speaker and author, but above all, he is a master at intuitively listening, understanding and helping others see what they cannot see in themselves.

Rick was born in England, and then spent over 30-years in Australia and has called Ubud, Bali home for the past 10-years with his wife and family.