This isn’t really a blog about eating hot dogs, though you might view it that way.
First, let me ask you this: can you imagine someone actually making a living from eating buckets of food?
Kind of mind-blowing. Thinking of it makes my stomach hurt.
Lots of people think it’s cool to make a lot of money by just eating. And thousands find it fun to watch.
Either way, just for a moment put aside any judgment about people who spend free time stuffing hot dogs down their gullet for fun and let’s take a deeper look into a top competitor’s powerful thinking process.
We can learn a lot him. Specifically, how one amazing eater changed the the sport forever- through positive thinking.
Takeru Kobayashi, a college student studying economics. He found his life changed when a friend signed him up for a televised eating contest. He was 23 years old, 5 foot 8 inches and 130 pounds.
Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest! To break the world record of 25-1/8 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. (Imagine that for a minute. Yikes. The thought of eating more than two hot dogs makes me shudder.)
Coney Island, NY. Nathan’s annual contest where champions from all over the world come to gorge themselves with hot dogs in exchange for fame and money.
RECAP OF HIS FIRST COMPETITION
Kobayashi stands next to his fellow competitors. The bell rings to start.
For 12 minutes he separates the buns from the dog and he eats. He slurps and he dunks and he smushes. He keeps on shoveling them in. He dunks, he slurps, the hot dogs seem to disappear. Never once does he look up to see how many he ate. Focused, fast, slurping and dunking for 12 whole minutes.
Finally the bell rings. The contest is over.
He glances up to see the number on the board indicating how many hot dogs he ate.
The number is… 50!
WCBS Radio Announcer: “The Americans just dropped their dogs in awe. The clear cut wiener: Kobayashi, who inhaled 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Shattering the world record. The kid is incredible. Total beating of the Americans. He was like a conveyor belt, he was just putting them in two at a time. I saw he was around 30 when I was at around 8. I took my shirt off, started waving the white flag. I can’t believe it, a new world record. 50!”
It was astounding. He doubled the previous record of the 25-1/8!
LESSON #1 LOOK AT THINGS DIFFERENTLY
During a recent interview Kobayashi said: “My honest opinion was that people were just eating as an extension of regular eating meals, and it looked like they were all like rushing to try eat more than they normally could. Just one more hot dog, just a little more. And I thought, “Well, if you just look at it as a way of trying to put something in instead of, how much more can I eat than normal,” then it really just takes a few questions and a little research on my part and experimentation to see how far I could actually go.
Kobayashi really wanted to win and decided to ask a different question – only slightly different, perhaps, at least to a layperson, but it changed everything.”
His question was: “How can I make one hot dog easier to eat?”
That one forward thinking question allowed him to experiment in new ways.
TAKEAWAY: Asking yourself questions allows you to address situations from a different perspective. When you take a different perspective you can uncover answers and solutions you never imagined.
LESSON #2 EXPERIMENT. PRACTICE. EXPERIMENT SOME MORE!
At home in Japan is where Kobayashi trained for Coney Island. Unfortunately American-style hot dogs weren’t available, so he used sausages made of minced fish. There were no hot dog buns either so he cut pieces of bread down to size. He took his training very seriously. He began a long series of experiments.
After he found that eating a hot dog IN it’s bun made his mouth feel dry, hHe decided to separate the hot dogs from the buns. He then sliced the hotdogs in half to make two skinny dogs. Those went down even easier.
He tackled the dry-bun problem with a novel solution. Dunking. As he fed himself the bun-less, broken hot dogs with one hand, he used the other hand to dunk the bun in water. Then he’d squeeze out the excess water and smush the bun into his mouth, kind of like a bun ball. Not only did this make eating faster, but now he didn’t have to take time out between dogs to drink water.
Kobayashi treated his training like a sport and videotaped every session. He charted all his data and analyzed it. He found out what worked and, just as important, what didn’t work. At one point, he thought he should chew each dog very vigorously – but he realized this not only took too long but was also bad for his jaw. He was tireless in his experimentation.
LESSON #3: KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE
Kobayashi’s strong desire to win $5000 kept him focused on finding a way to win that contest. He knew that if others could do it, so could he. But just doing what everyone else does wasn’t enough. He entered his first competition with a powerful thought in his mind. “I have come here to win.”
Even though he had challenges in front of him, he kept his goal in mind.
TAKEAWAY: Make it a daily practice to focus on your goal. Imagine how it will feel to achieve your goal. See yourself winning. Feel the excitement. Imagine what you say to yourself when you get there. Imagine what others will say to you.
Simply put, when you imagine how you will feel when you get there, that feeling will smooth the path so you can experiment and try new ways to get there.
By-the-way, how many hot dogs have you had at one time? Share your #’s below!
Quick note: I’m proud to tell you this blog post will soon be published at Healing Connection Network!