EP 78 - Steve Simonson - It's Only a Mountain Book Review

Awesomers BOOK OF THE WEEK -  Steve and other "insiders" will share their favorite books and talk about some of the reasons why these books are noteworthy to them. We'll share why we believe learning and knowledge is a critical difference maker when it comes to becoming a leader and ultimately staying on the road to becoming awesomer.



Steve Simonson - It’s Only a Mountain Book Review

This is an inspirational story about a father and his commitment, drive and love for his nonvocal quadriplegic son.

On this episode, Steve introduces us to the Book of the Week, It’s Only a Mountain by Sam Nall . The most important key points you will get from this book are:

  • How to shift to the right mindset when going through great obstacles.

  • The importance of having the courage to do whatever it takes in life.

  • The challenges in taking care of a handicapped loved one and how you can find inspiration and great purpose in it.

So, take time to listen as Steve reviews the book It’s Only a Mountain, a wonderful story about the love between a father and his son and what they have accomplished together.

01:45 (Steve introduces It’s Only a Mountain as the Book of the Week.)

03:22 (Steve shares one of the previews of the story.)

04:47 (Steve talks about Dick and Rick Hoyt’s origin story.)

Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope you will join me on this Awesomer journey.


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You're listening to the Awesomers podcast.

Hey everybody, it's me Steve Simonson. I'm back again with another Awesomers podcast episode and this Episode Number is number 78 of the Awesomers podcast series. And the procedure if you wish to find more details, show notes, etc. is to just go to Awesomers.com/78 . Now today we're doing a Book of the Week episode and I wanted to share that the Book of the Weeks are important and even though we don't do them every single week we drop them on as often as we can.

01:45 (Steve introduces It’s Only a Mountain as the Book of the Week.)

We're doing today's episode about the book It's Only a Mountain, It's Only a Mountain and it's written by Sam Nall, but the book is about what we call Team Hoyt and it's Dick and Rick Hoyt who are some of the most incredible – like the subtitle says Men of Iron, some of the most incredible inspirational stories you've ever seen. Now this is a true story. This is like a you know kind of various biographies and sub biographies throughout the book and it's a true story of a dad who literally took his quadriplegic son who was also nonverbal and took him around and ran triathlons and ran marathons and this if you have never heard the story it really is truly inspiring and it's an amazing thing.

And I love the title because it starts out with this concept that indeed it's only a mountain right and that points to the idea that you can climb any obstacle, you can overcome any challenge that's necessary and in this case you know Dick Hoyt said he wanted to help his son be a really high functioning you know kind of member of society and an athlete. And I just want to tell you for those who may be listening or watching on the video version, I had the great pleasure to meet Dick and Rick some years ago and they signed my copy of the book and I love the story, it's quite inspirational and it's something that I find to be really instructive for people when you start thinking about the challenges that each of us face it's really, it pales by comparison to what these guys have faced.

03:22 (Steve shares one of the previews of the story.)

So, I wanted to share one of the previews of the story with you. So, the title is It's Only a Mountain. In Dick Hoyt’s world the only difference between a hill and a mountain is something called attitude and along with the courage and determination the Hoyt family has conquered many mountains in these past 40 years literally and figuratively. They were devastated when their first son was born with cerebral palsy, a non-vocal quadriplegic, but they accepted the challenge. Rather than put Rick in an institution and forget about him, which was suggested by doctors by the way of the time, they gave him a life unlike any other. ESPN, ABC, NBC have all brought national attention to team Hoyt when they conquered Ironman Hawaii and again when they traversed the Rocky Mountains on a bicycle. Dick was a novice swimmer yet he tethered himself to a rubber dinghy and towed his adult son 2.4 miles in the Pacific Ocean. He then strapped him into a seat on the front of a custom-built bicycle and pedaled 112 miles. Together they completed the Ironman events by running a marathon 26.2 miles with Rick seated in a front running chair. These are tremendous accomplishments of course, but they represent only a couple of the rungs of Team Hoyt’s inspirational ladder.

04:47 (Steve talks about Dick and Rick Hoyt’s origin story.)

This is not a simple sports biography. This is not a simple story of any kind. It is a really heartwarming story of adversity and overcoming that adversity in very creative ways. So, I want to share a little bit about this book and how I got to know it and some of the origin story behind these two incredible humans, Dick and Rick Hoyt. So, first of all, you know from a very early age it was a very – it was a high challenge obviously with Rick's handicaps to be able to cope with day-to-day life, but the family never stopped and they never you know kind of checked out of the equation. They tried to figure out how to have Rick enjoy his life. And you know along the way they were able to take Rick along for rides and the reality is Rick turned into a completely you know different person when he was in the athletic mode right. He was smiling. He was happy and later they were able to help develop and work on the technology with some of the great universities and scientists of the time to help Rick actually start communicating using kind of a mouth-driven joystick.

And you know so many times we see somebody with a handicap and their nonverbal and our own mental weakness says oh, well then you know obviously they're unable to communicate. You know, something is wrong with their brain. They can't function as a human or as an adult. You know, maybe human is an overstatement and I'm just trying to paint the picture that we prejudge based on what we see, but the fact is Rick was able to control his voice by using a computer and start using that mouth-driven joystick or mouse, however you want to think of it, to control and to share his thoughts. Today, he's able to communicate using that and nobody at the time would have ever expected that somebody with his condition actually had such a strong vocabulary and such a strong will to communicate. And again, I think that's just part of the very cool story of It's Only a Mountain.

So, this idea that Dick had way back in the old days to start bringing his son along on not just you know small things, but actual marathons. And I believe he started running the Boston Marathon – I don't remember the exact time, maybe the late 80s or early 90s and they've been in every Boston Marathon since that time. Now, recently Dick you know who's 74 has had health ailments, so I think it was back in 2014 the reigns for Team Hoyts’ activities went over to some of their trusted colleagues and friends because Rick still wanted to carry on even though his dad you know couldn't go with him and Rick you know is probably in his now early to mid 50s. He's still an athlete at heart and loves to get out there and you know help encourage his dad to keep moving on.

The fact that they were able to build the custom equipment and be able to you know kind of create this experience is so extraordinary and along the way the guys have been lucky enough to pick up sponsors to help fund this extraordinary amount of races and history. They've ran in so many marathons, so many triathlons and so many endurance events that you can't even count them all. It's literally you know it's past hundreds. It's into the you know maybe a thousand plus range. So, just think about that you know when you start thinking about endurance events and I don't remember how many marathons, but it's dozens and dozens of marathons as I recall. They were able to not just complete, but often they finished the top in their category. For example, Rick was able to complete with his dad's help, both of them together, complete the marathon number one in the dad's age category of you know 40 and above at the time and this is while pushing you know his son along with him as he's running. So, he's able to go faster and although he lost a little speed going up the hill, he went faster down the hill than the guys maybe just hanging on for dear life, but a true athletic amazing amazing story. So, before we dive deeper into this book It's Only a Mountain, I wanted to just take a quick commercial break and hear from one of our sponsors. Let's do that right now.


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Steve: Okay. We are back again everybody and I just want to stress the extraordinary lengths this family has gone to break records. So many marathons, so many triathlons, the accomplishments are astounding and you can run over to Team Hoyt H-O-Y-T teamhoyt.com and you can see some of the extraordinary accomplishments that they've made over the years. And you know it goes far beyond just breaking records and far beyond even just the brother – you know the father's love for his son. Team Hoyt by the way is an organization that revolves around the spirit and this idea that Dick and Rick started, but there are others now who are helping you know people with handicaps of various kinds continue on and become athletes and join the races. And the goal of Team Hoyt is to show physically disabled people that they can still become active members of the community.

Some of the records that I talked about earlier is the Hoyts have completed over 1,100 endurance events including 72 marathons and six Ironman triathlons. They've run the Boston Marathon 32 times. The only numbers I could put up that compared to that is how many pizzas I've had in my lifetime and how many pepperoni pizzas I've eaten and how many I've eaten in less than 10 minutes. That's quite a difference. Team Hoyt definitely has my respect and admiration and I just I love what they do. One of the great things is that Dick you know who was able to custom outfit the special running  equipment or biking equipment or even the little dinghy where he would drag the boat along behind him while he swims, he was able to pair up healthy runners and pushers with those who are limited to wheelchair. So, Team Hoyt doesn't just do this with Rick, they were just kind of the first guys to pioneer it and now so many others are getting into the act, which is you know again so inspirational.

So, I mentioned earlier that in the 2011 marathon, I believe it was in the Boston Marathon a fellow named Brian Lyons was able to run alongside of Dick and Rick and they were actually having a hard time right. Not every race is simple, not every race is easy and they were having a hard time and Brian just you know joined alongside of them. And now in I think it's 2014 he was able to actually be the first one to push Rick and to carry him through the Boston Marathon after Dick had to retire. You know at 74, take a break Dick. We love you. It's no problem. And the ailments that go along with that probably not you know ideal, but right up until 73 he carried on doing it. Amazing. Rick wanted to continue anyway and so Brian Lyons was able to you know be a part of Team Hoyt and take that honor into the Boston Marathon.

Again, now we've talked about this idea that they have been inspirational in helping other people get into Team Hoyt and bringing athletes from some of those folks who maybe differently abled or disabled, however you prefer. So, I love this book. It's extraordinarily inspirational. There's a pretty good chance you will start crying at some point, no question about that and I just have to say that you know I've never seen anybody or anything you know quite this difficult being accomplished again and again. You know, honestly these guys could have just run this race one time, you know one marathon or one triathlon just one single time and that would be inspirational enough especially for those of us who have no physical ailments yet they just continued to do it and do it and do it and they loved it. Every little you know every little moment they just loved it.

So, before we close I wanted to share with you one of the key quotes that I think is something that we can all take a little bit of inspiration from. So, Mary Anne Grabavoy – I don't know how to pronounce last name, I'm not good at that as you know if you're an avid listener, but she was with ABC Worldwide Sports and she wrote this quick intro found in chapter 18 by the way. Imagine yourself being trapped inside a body with lifeless limbs, unable to walk, unable to talk, unable to feed yourself, but in your heart and soul you're an athlete. You could feel the burn in your legs as they pump. You could feel the burn in your windpipe as you breathe because in your mind's eye you are an athlete sleek, strong, swift, invincible, but in reality you're helpless and it's the stark contrast between those two realities. You know, what Rick Hoyt is able to do himself physically is you know this much of the story, but what him and his father and ultimately he and his father have inspired among so many others is what makes this really one of my favorite books of all time. It's Only a Mountain. It's a great read. It's powerful stuff and if you ever are facing challenges or you know you have some obstacle in your way, this helps you reset kind of your own expectations on what is truly an obstacle and as they call it it's only a mountain, we're going over it, we're going through it, we're going to do whatever it takes. And I think that's pretty much the final summary.

So, this again has been Episode Number 78 of the Awesomers.com podcast series and this has been a Book of the Week episode. We hope that you have enjoyed it and we hope that you enjoy all of the Awesomers episodes. We're now breaking them up into smaller episodes for your benefit so that you can get through them in a reasonable you know short period of time. We're trying to match the factory production schedule with the amount that you can consume each day and you can go to Awesomers.com/contact if you have any feedback about that pivot. Let us know. We are doing this really just for you. So, thanks again for joining us everybody. Awesomers.com/78 you can find all the show notes and details about today's episode.


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Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com . Thank you again.