I am not inspired by you if your biggest accomplishment is that you stood on the top spot of the podium.
I have stood on that spot.
I am not inspired by you if you are the fastest on that given day.
I have been the fastest on that given day too.
I know what that is like. I know how meaningful it can be. I know how hollow it can feel.
You know who I am inspired by? I am inspired by people who have been to the brink. Not of a 400 meter repeat, not by a to-the-second-win. But someone who knows deep down in their soul, down at the very bottom of their being…. what it is like. I am inspired by them as they fight their way back. Overcoming odds and diagnoses and unbelievable obstacles. Because I know that the true test of one’s self…. one’s entire being…. is to go to that brink.
Some go to the brink through cancer. Others go there through depression or life circumstance. I have been there. I have stood on its edge a few times in my life. I have looked over that edge in fact and I have seen …… it.
When you get there you have two choices…. as the saying goes…. “You have faith that one of two things will happen. You will land on something solid, or you will learn how to fly.” Through my life, I have had both experiences. I have learned that the brink is the place where you fly or you land, and you have to have faith for either to happen.
Without faith….. and you define faith not I….. without faith nothing can happen.
I once had a coach who always told me variety was for those athletes who were weak minded. I never believed that. I never bought it. I have felt in my heart that a lack of variety was for the afraid.
Variety is for the brave.
In life we can not predict what is going to happen. Nothing remains the same …. not truly. Even if you take the same route to work, have the same schedule. There is always something to vary it. Always something to roll with. It has to be, because if not… the moment something did change you’d lose your footing. You’d fall and not know how to handle it.
Athletically…… every race is different. Swimming the same workout 34 weeks in a row isn’t going to properly prepare me for a mass swim start of 3,000 people. Every soccer game is a different experience and part of being successful is knowing how to react and change on a dime.
Part of that variety, part of being brave, part of all of that is having faith. Having “faith that one of two things will happen. You will land on something solid or you will learn how to fly.” It’s believing beyond yourself. It’s not knowing that there are 500 more yards of pulling left in this set. It’s not knowing what is left and having the ability to handle whatever comes at you.
That ability comes with practice. In training it comes with changing up sesisons. In life it comes with drawing off of experiences that help you develop the ability to react, change, and dodge things. If you practice that development in sport…. you will be able to live that ability in day to day life.
Sport bleeds into life. And life bleeds into sport.
It works both ways. But it’s never the same and it never should be. Life doesn’t happen in excel spreadsheets.
I am inspired by those who have that ability. For me those people might be in sport. They might not be. But they inspire me. Their ability to change on a dime, their ability to roll with the punches…… because they have been to the brink and they have either flown or landed. They draw on that and bring them home and it creates an entirely new being within them.
You tell me you hope you never go to the brink, and I feel sad for you. No, it’s not a fun place. It’s a terrible place in fact. But a place that left me grateful beyond grateful. I feel bad for those who have never been there, because it’s provided me a perspective I can’t really truly share. You have to go there to understand. You have to experience it to relate.
I am inspired by those who have both landed and flown. Who have fallen flat on their ass. And got back up. Who have stood at the brink…. on the very edge of it…. and they have turned back to look … thrown back their head…. and laughed.
They have faith. Faith inspires me. They have faith in themselves, not a spreadsheet. They have faith in the unknown, not the schedule. They know how to handle variety, adversity…. because they are used to standing in the middle of the storm. It’s commonplace.
As we begin this New Year…… let go of the standard. Let go of the same old same old. Instead…. “If you feel good run a little harder, if you feel bad, run a little longer...” (I think Dean Karnazes said that). Learn to trust yourself over anyone or anything else. Listen to that little voice inside of you. Let it be a loud voice. Let it urge you to take the chance. Take the leap. Have faith. Be brave enough to do it.
Just remember “One of two things will happen. You will land on something solid, or you will learn how to fly.”
I promise you will.
Happy New Year.