Cycling to the top

Naji Haddad explains how a passion for riding helps him foster determination, perspective and connection to the MDRT Whole Person concept.
March 17, 2021 by
Charbel Abboud

I ride, and I rode because I thought it was the easiest thing for anyone to do.

I went to meet my friend and client Abdo. He is the president of the cycling club in Lebanon. In January 2013, he told me they were participating in a race in Cyprus. I asked him, “Can I join?” He told me, “Naji, you need a professional bicycle.” I asked, “Can we rent one?” He said, “Yes, but you need to practice. It’s a 300-km race.”

I told him, “I can do some turns around the house.” He said, “Man, you are crazy! I am telling you, 100 km a day for three days.” I said, “Are there any fees to join?” He said, “Yes.” I told him, “Fine, take the money and let me join.”

So he registered me and got me a T-shirt with the Lebanese flag and my name on it. I got a helmet and a pair of gloves. I rented a bike, and we traveled to Cyprus.

We all arrived at the hotel. Before we started preparing the bikes, the other 17 guys said, “Let’s go have dinner before we rest for the night.” So we went to the restaurant. They asked me what I wanted to eat. I said, “A cheeseburger.” They recommended chicken or pasta to ensure that I would have energy for the next day. I insisted that I liked the burger. Then they asked me what I wanted to drink. While they all chose juice and fresh drinks, I asked for a beer. They were surprised. Just one friend shared the beer with me. Then I took my cigar out. Here everyone was shocked, and they changed their seating. They told me, “Naji, we are here to race, not for vacation.”

After dinner, we went back to the hotel. We prepared everything for the next day’s race.

The next day the race started, and I was in the middle of the 180 competitors from 23 countries. I decided to move slowly to save my energy. But there was a high wind. After about one minute, all the participants passed me. I thought maybe I would have to do some more pedaling to stay close to them. Two minutes later, there was no one in front of me. I looked back; there were only the ambulance and the bus. So I kept moving for 45 km before I finally stopped. When I entered the bus, I started shouting at the driver: “You told us there was a stop for food, chocolate, bananas!” He said, “Sorry, sir. They made three stops, but you were behind. You couldn’t catch them.” On the second day of the race, I did 60 km. And on the final day, I did 25 km. I felt my knees burning, so I stopped. I went back to the hotel, and the same day we traveled back to Beirut.

I woke up the next day and went to a cycling shop in Beirut, and I bought my first bicycle. I started practicing every Sunday for one year, in summer and in winter.

Determined to take part in this race again, I went back to Cyprus again, and guess what? After three long days of a cycle race, I won the bronze medal as I came in third place.

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because at MDRT I learned about the Whole Person concept. I learned about the power of determination and practice. I learned that I, as an MDRT member, can achieve the pinnacle in any aspect of my life if I set my mind to it.

This has also helped me to stay focused on our business, to be a member every single year and to practice all the ideas I am getting from you, our members.

This bike ride helped me experience the power of MDRT, the power of determination. If you take one thing way from this meeting, take the power of practice and the power to continue being the best — be a member of MDRT.

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