Dane completed his epic 202-mile run nearly two weeks ago in Washington D.C. It was a great adventure for me and my wife despite major lack of sleep, getting what sleep we could in the car, eating fast food, etc.
Since returning home, I have reflected on what Dane accomplished and am once again amazed at what you can do when you simply put one foot in front of the other. I think we all understand the virtue of taking on life’s challenges one step at a time but, just as in Dane’s run, sometimes the road is dark and a little scary and after thousands of steps the prospect of taking even one more little step can be physically and mentally overwhelming.
As I watched Dane navigate the low points of his run it was instructive to me to watch the human spirit in action. Often we all face the natural desire to quit or lower the bar when things get difficult. But if we have developed a strong desire for excellence and an ability to dream big we can marshall the strength to keep us on course and fulfill our destiny.
Dane’s run was an adventure not that different from life. Some people actually asked me what place he came in. He started 24 hours earlier than the rest of the teams running so it’s really not a relevant question but I am struck by the way we as humans keep score. The question seemed to imply that if he didn’t finish near the lead then his accomplishment might mean less. How about “I just navigated a 202 mile run in 50 hours!” as an indicator of success? Do you ever worry that we might be judged by others (or ourselves) not by whether we finished the “run” of life but by what place we took? (e.g., the size of our bank account or home, the shape of our body, the number of awards on our wall, etc.)
In this fast-paced world we have, understandably, come to expect fast results and love to keep score. We are hit daily with clever marketing and real-life examples of quick-fixes, instant answers, and rankings. While I appreciate scientific and technological advances as much as the next non-Luddite we must be careful to not apply “quick-fix” ideas or external judgements to the most important parts of life such as building character and accomplishing our life’s dreams. These pursuits are by nature most difficult and are only accomplished through consistent, steady effort. Like Dane, we may fall on the trail and want to give up sometimes but if we have prepared ourselves by focusing on character development and doing what matters most, I know that we can find the strength to persevere and stay the course.
It bears repeating (daily!) that becoming our best is much less like a sprint and much more like a 202-mile run. That means we have to be honest and clear with ourselves that worthwile things take time. There is no substitute for time and yet the clock is always ticking. So, if we make the most of each day our results may not be immediate but we can be assured that they will be lasting.
Lastly, don’t stop dreaming big simply because we are afraid (or know!) the road will be hard. We all have different trails to run, or even walk, but the important thing is that we find ours and stay on it. To stay in our warm emotional/mental bed when the cold winds of life are blowing is essentially tantamount to choosing a life of mediocrity. No one is on this earth to be mediocre, no one.
I have started BRIDGES because I have gone through (and will continue to) the unpleasant but ultimately rewarding pain of getting out of my comfortable psychological bed, facing the paralyzing freeze of my problems, and moving down my life’s path anyway. I believe my mission now is to share these inspiring principles of BRIDGES I have discovered and provide the motivation for you to move forward so we both can achieve excellence and be a force for good in a world already full of mediocrity and complacency.
We will both do this one determined step at a time.