Guts and Glory
Guinness World Record Kayaker Robyn Benincasa is taking her survivor experiences from the mountains of Tibet, the leach-infested jungles of Borneo to the masses in her first book on How Winning Works: 8 Essential Leadership Lessons from the Toughest Teams on Earth.
Guinness World Record Kayaker Robyn Benincasa is taking her survivor experiences from the mountains of Tibet and from the leach-infested jungles of Borneo to the masses in her first book on How Winning Works: 8 Essential Leadership Lessons from the Toughest Teams on Earth. Benincasa understands life’s idiosyncrasies and soared above her own limits after she was instructed by doctors she’d never run again. This didn’t stop this firefighter (Yes, she does that as well) and she switched to kayak paddling. After undergoing hip replacements, she went on to set Guinness World Records and launched Project Athena in 2009. Athena is a non-profit that offers grants and encouragement to cancer survivors to embark on multi-adventures from Key Largo to Key West, the Moab Trail Marathon in Utah, hiking the rims of the Grand Canyon, run the New York Marathon or any race in life.
“Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom and War. My wise friends had proven to me that through war comes wisdom. I was inspired by them, just as I hoped that together, we would inspire others,” said Benincasa, who hails from the Cardiff, California.
Benincasa continues to do her thing—inspire others.
Why did you write this book?
It happened to me. I was just going along and having a good time and one of my good [friends and author] said ‘“You have to write a book.’” I’m like “Yeah, yeah…blah, blah, blah… She said ‘“If I write the proposal, will you write the book?”’ So she did, and there I was with a contract on my desk.
You talk about leadership in your book. What makes a good leader?
The best teams are built and the best leaders are built by bringing forward other leaders. Great leaders create great leaders. They don’t necessarily get out in front and say “Follow me.” They put others out in front.
How did the setbacks of your injuries help you?
I don’t even consider four hip replacements a major setback. With Project Athena, I have met so many people that have had actual freighting stuff or losing family members [to cancer] or having sick family members--just real traumatic things happening to them. I felt really lucky and blessed to have made it through with so few massive setbacks in the road that I will take the hip replacements. And I will take them over again verses some real heartbreaking tragedy.