I'd like to share with you the first time I stumbled and fell…..and the surprising outcome!Many years ago (15 at the time), I became a middle distance runner in track. My best friend Ray was a great 880 yard runner and won 1st place in most track meets. I had been a sprinter, but changed events to practice and compete with him. As a sprinter, I was faster than Ray in the "kick" (the last 40-50yards of the second lap you sprint to the finish) so I felt I could beat him.
That year we had five track meets. I placed 5th and 4th the first two meets but improved and won 2nd place ribbons behind Ray the next two meets. The last meet of the season was District competition where medals were awarded to the top three finishers so I devised a plan to win the district 880 yard run. Instead of starting my kick at the last 50 yards ….i would start my "kick" at 100 yards and win. I practiced my plan all week and knew I could win since my times had improved.
I was ready the day of the race. I could only think of my plan to win and felt certain of victory. After the first lap of the race, I was 5 yards from the lead in a pack of 4-5 runners. With ½ a lap to go (220 yards) in the 2nd and final lap, I was boxed in with a runner in front, back and my right side! Oh, no….I had to move out or my plan of winning would fail. Panicking, I tried to pass the runner in front of me on the inside of the track next to the concrete curb that ran around the track. I couldn't believe the next thing that happened …I tripped on the curb and tumbled, somersaulting on to my feet in the infield grass, totally off the track!
In track, when you drop the baton on a relay, step out of your lane and of course run off the track, you are automatically disqualified. But none of this went through my mind..What I felt was devastation. Ohhh man, I was supposed to win this race and now I was looking at the last place runner 4 yards ahead of me! In a instant I made a decision, I was suppose to win this race... that's all I could think, so I ran back onto the track.
I was now 200 yards from the finish and dead last, 20 yard behind the leader. I decided to run faster than before I fell …running as fast as I could ( I went into the sprint "the kick"). I began to move up on all 9 runners, passing one by one, not knowing when I would give out. Like in a movie at the last turn, 100 yards out, I passed the 5th and 4th place runners. Now 50 yards from the finish, all runners stated their kick as I passed the 3rd and 2nd place guys. Ray was a mere 4- 5 yards in the lead with me gaining on him. Well…….I ran out of yards (another couple of yards and I would have passed him) as I finished in 2nd place just one foot behind Ray.
The fans in the stands were going wild yelling my name over and over ...I didn't understand…I was so disappointed ….I was supposed to win. The judges came over and asked if I had been pushed or had pushed someone …I said rather disappointed …no, it was my fault, I tripped on my own trying to get through because I wanted to win.
I have fallen many times since then, in business, promotions, deals and projects while working towards success, but I always do as I did that day…I jump up and run harder and faster than before I fell. We must all do the same …"a setback is merely a challenge to make us stretch to grow bigger, better and stronger." Please, don't stop running if you drop the baton.
In closing, I'd like to share with you… that occasionally when I feel over-challenged, I get encouragement by opening a little jewelry box in my desk that hold a little medal…silver and about the size of dime that's inscribed in the back…2nd place 880 yard run! I guess the judges were so moved by "a sheer desire to win" that instead of disqualify… they elected to award the medal to the kid that fell but jumped up and ran his heart out that day. Please, let me encourage you to keep running faster than before your fall, personal or business, until you reach success!