Have you ever had to dig really deep to overcome a personal setback? Have you found that digging deep means committing to the dig?
When I was in high school, some wild thought took over my brain. “I think I’ll join the track team!” I’m not a runner, but I joined because my friends were on the team.
I wasn’t very fast, but the coach assigned me as a 3rd leg of the four-leg 440 yard relay. All I had to do was run one 110-yard lap around the track, and pass the baton to the next runner. Running wasn’t hard. Passing the baton was, however, trickier than it looks, and the dread of dropping it was my constant companion.
One track meet, my worst fear came true. As the runner behind me slapped the baton in my hand, I didn’t grab it tight enough and it went tumbling to the ground. But because I was already moving forward, I was a few yards ahead of it. I had to stop, turn around, grab the baton on the ground, and get back in the race. My thoughts screamed at me: “I can’t believe you just dropped it! Maureen, you’re such a loser! You idiot! How could you do something so stupid??”
At that moment, nothing was more important than running as fast as I could. I felt like the world was coming off its axis because I dropped the baton, and I had to fix it. I wanted to salvage the damage I caused our team, and redeem my terrible mistake. I wanted my team to win.
I pushed harder than I thought possible. My legs moved faster than they ever did before. I was straining with every muscle I could find, and my sole goal was to make up for the lost yardage. I groaned and grunted and growled my way toward that next runner, completely focused on getting that baton to her.
I did. She finished the last leg of that race, and not surprisingly, our team did not win. I don’t remember if we came in last, but I know we didn’t come in first. I was humiliated.
But my team rallied around me with an astonishing show of encouragement and support. They had never seen me run so fast. I had never seen me run so fast. I think God had never seen me run so fast!
What was the impetus? We’ll surely I was a little embarrassed. Well, a LOT embarrassed. But more significantly, I knew it was my responsibility to finish my leg of the race. I had to do it the very best I could. And I knew that I had to dig deep to make it happen. My team was counting on me.
I could have chosen to just quit. I could have chosen to run a slower pace to complete it. But I chose to turn up the fire and kick myself into high gear. I think for a brief minute, I actually thought I could make up the lost yardage and allow my team to win. I committed to the process. I committed to finishing the race with my head held high, Even though my heart was sinking low. I committed to digging deeper than I ever did before.
The strength of a noble commitment can carry you through the pain of a lowly disappointment. More importantly, the results of the commitment can outshine the disappointment. There is no greater feeling than to hold your head high in spite of disappointing outcomes. To be able to say “I did my best” is a far greater treasure than “I won the prize.”
It’s been said that “Success is a journey, not a destination.” I believe that. Do you? Conquer your obstacles by committing to run the race as hard as you can. You may not conquer the obstacle you intend to, but you will be able to hold your head high. Surely, that’s worth it. We are all in some way wired to conquer. When you commit to conquer, and follow through on your commitment, you will indeed feel that thrill of the conquer. Even in defeat, it’s possible to feel the thrill of victory.