The UK recently hosted the 30th Olympiad and we had the pleasure once again of seeing men and women going for glory striving to be faster, higher, stronger.
One of the many events of the games was the marathon - over 26 gruelling miles of pure effort, pain, sweat and tears. In the marathon of life too, there is effort, pain, sweat and tears. But while in an Olympic marathon the finish line is clear, in life we know not where our finish line lies. Unlike the Olympics there is no single winner - each of us runs our own race and it is up to us to decorate our journey with the things that matter most. We determine not only the pace at which we run but also how we run - the strategies we employ, the seasons we enjoy.
The Olympics are over and now is a time to reflect. Where are you in your race? What route have you taken? Who’s running alongside you? What have you accomplished? How have you impacted the world? Who defines your race? Indeed, are you running your own race or are you following orders? Are you setting goals, breaking moulds, being creative or following the flock? Are you focused or are you drifting out of your lanes? How will you be remembered? What is your legacy?
A winning athlete knows the importance of nurturing his talent; he understands the importance of preparation, dedication, passion and focus. How important is winning to you? What crown(s) are you pursuing? What seeds are you sowing? Good athletes appreciate the fact that they first win in their mind. We have all seen how the performance of sportsmen is adversely impacted when their mind is not at ease. Your thoughts impact your actions and your actions have a bearing on your performance. Don’t worry about how far you have to go; think instead about how far you’ve come.
Steer clear of dangerous substances – those activities and people who tempt you to quit or cheat, for in the race of life we all have to account for our own actions. There will always be naysayers around – people who believe in remaining average, those who can’t dare to be different. They cannot see your vision or live your dream for it is not theirs to see or live. Good athletes train with other athletes, not with their families, friends or acquaintances. Indeed they invite their competitors to train with them. Nurture your spirit by hanging out with like-minded people, not people who tell you what you like to hear. Enrich your repertoire by relating to people from whom you can learn; people who speak your language and swim against the tide, and who encourage you to be faster, higher, stronger. Don’t be afraid to figure among the pace setters; there is nothing special in being ordinary.
In this marathon of life we need not run alone. Find a mentor. Remember, a mentor is not necessarily someone who advises you; a mentor is someone whose advice you follow. Learning is a lifelong process. Many successful people have documented their lifelong experiences in autobiographies and other texts. Whose advice are you following? The colour of success is not the same in everyone’s eyes; it is a personal prerogative. If you believe in yourself you will define your own success and pursue the steps necessary to achieve it. Don’t be overly concerned if it is not clear to others, simply be true to yourself and remember to run your own race.
In the race of life we all can win. There will be obstacles to discourage you, disorientate you or cause you to fall by the wayside. “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” (Confucius). Use those obstacles as stepping stones; gather your strength, build your confidence and determination and keep your eye on the goal. Celebrate small victories and keep going, for the race goes to those who persevere to the end.
Run your own race and run it well – apply character, dedication, focus, integrity, love. Look around you and see who is cheering you on; who is supporting you and whom you support. Remember to show gratitude and never cease to encourage others. Keep going and don’t give up your place in the race for “yesterday's home runs don't win today's games” (Babe Ruth). Do it, if not for yourself, for others. Leave a legacy!