Posted on 9/19/2016 by Mark Hutchinson
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
"To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It's not about winning and losing; it's about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It's about embracing the pain that you'll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid. I think people think too hard and get afraid of a certain challenge."
- Summer Sanders
I have to say that I’m quite proud of my daughter in general, but especially so today after witnessing how she faced her uncertainties and undertook a new challenge in running her first race – a 5k road race. As a 9 year old, that tends to be self-conscious, facing a new experience of running a race with about 400 other people (mostly adults) was certainly daunting. As we lined up in the slowest pace section and the count down to the start was ticking down under a minute, the cold wind brought with it chilly drops of rain. Ah, September in Oregon!
I’ve been reflecting on that experience, how she coped with the challenge, and ultimately what value it provided to her. As I have tried to imagine the day through her eyes it strikes me that there was a certain amount of fear of the unknown that was present and lots of nervous energy. During those minutes before race I asked her what was the most important thing about the run (hoping that she’d say something like being relaxed or having good rhythm in her breathing) but she instead replied “the most important thing is to have fun.”
She was focusing on the upside of the impending experience. The techniques, the stamina, the determination were already in place and there was nothing left to do but wait. Why wait in fear. Instead she waited in anticipation of what it would be like and hoping to find fun in the mix knowing full well there would be some pain and exhaustion.
We ran. It rained. She asked questions about where we were going, how people were running, and why this little town would put on such a big race. We charged up the hills, we relaxed on the downhill side, we cheered for the leaders already coming back the other way, we looked out for our other friends running with us and, for most of the race, she held my hand.
Even when afraid and uncertain, when we focus on what we need to do and don’t shy away from the experience itself, it is amazing what we can accomplish. Also, by sharing the experience with others, running through it with them if you will, there is a richness and energy to the moments that is hard to find without compatriots.
As MLK Jr. said in the quote above, where you stand in times of challenge is an important measure of how much you’ve grown as a person. Challenges big and small come along and provide the opportunity to grow a little more and to see how far you’ve come. Don’t miss those opportunities! Kate and I leapt across the finish line, smiling, hand-in-hand.
What is your challenge for this week?