by Harb Gill

Why being your best doesn’t mean being the best

World champion Ironman Trevor Hendy talks to Harb Gill about how we can teach our son that being his best is far better than being the best.

What would a world champion Ironman who spent years racing to be the best be able to tell our boys about being their best?

“Learn from my mistakes,” says Trevor Hendy, now a holistic life coach who has brought up two sons and two daughters, now aged between 14 and 29.

“The shift from winning at all costs to winning at all levels happened when I was around 25,” says Hendy, who was 15 when he vowed to become the best after being “bullied and belittled”.

“Back then, I carried around an ego that I was somebody, and that fuelled my wins. But it also fuelled a disconnect inside me. So I was left with the trophies but also the dis-ease.

“I had to explore the idea that I could slow down and be a better version of myself and win at all levels. What happened was I began to win more, more often, more easily. I finished my career winning from a more centred place.”

“Beating someone is a short-term sugary experience. Being your best is a long-term win… it can’t be taken from you because it is an internal achievement.”

Trevor Hendy

Hendy says we need to break that mindset of winning at all costs in our boys.

“You are not a winner when you beat someone,” he says. “You are a winner when you overcome something, when you break through something, when you get less affected by the result but feel proud about your effort.

“Beating someone is a short-term sugary experience. Being your best is a long-term win… it can’t be taken from you because it is an internal achievement.”

Given that boys are competitive by nature, the key is to help our sons harness that energy and channel it into being their personal best.

Trevor has these 6 tips to help parents help their sons to be real winners.

  1. Realise that your son is following in your footsteps – good or bad.

Our boys are doing what they learnt from us – from parents, teachers, coaches, older kids, what they watch on YouTube. When they do something wrong, there is no point getting angry with them. You can turn your anger into understanding to help them grow.

  1. Treat your son with the love and understanding that you needed at the same age.

Your son will make mistakes and he will get it wrong sometimes. But he needs to feel loved so he can learn from his mistakes. When you criticise him, it says that you would never have made a mistake like that. This can lead to your son suppressing and hiding not only his feelings but also the truth of what he actually did.

Parents need to come together to help raise our boys, not judge them.

Trevor Hendy
  1. Don’t use your son for social positioning.

If we are socially competitive as parents, we can’t be that village that makes it safe for our boys to grow and learn. Parents need to come together to help raise our boys, not judge them. One day your son may be on track and the boy next to him might be off-track. That boy needs you. On another day, it might be your son who is off-track and another boy’s parents might step in to help.

  1. Ask your son way more than you tell him.

Boys respond much better to being acknowledged as powerful, with their own answers inside them. When we ask questions we can give them a space to find the answers. If your son does not follow his own ethics, he is more likely to follow his peer group’s ethics.

  1. Allow your son to be right, even when it makes you wrong.

Never be scared to correct the record, apologise to your son for the way you reacted or the assumption you made. This teaches your son to graciously admit he is wrong when he is wrong. 

  1. Go easy on yourself.

Parenting is the most difficult and the most rewarding job in the world. Just as our sons are not perfect, neither are we. Going easy on yourself allows you to go easy on your son.


World Ironman champ Trevor Hendy is now a holistic life coach and author. He runs the 12-week online Boot Camp for the Soul. Find out more at


Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Harb Gill is a journalist, university teacher and mother of a 14-year-old boy. She has spent a lifetime of inquiry into how to live consciously. Find her mindfulness column at This article is about


  • image description

    Maggie Dent talks teen safety (without suffocation)

    By Harb Gill

  • image description

    5 ways to help your son manage his emotions

    By Harb Gill

  • image description

    Homework: how to help him get it right

    By Harb Gill