I remember seeing the heat rise from the red track as the sun beamed from high above in the cloudless sky. It was my junior year in college and it was the Conference Track & Field Championships.
The time had come for my event, the 400 hurdles. Just before I get down into the starting blocks, I do a few tuck jumps and then just stand there, still. I visualize myself running in my lane, jumping over the hurdles in my lane. I then visualize crossing the finish line in first place, arms up, in triumph. All I had to do was beat myself. As the start gun fires, signaling go, I quickly push out of the blocks. I am the first one to the first hurdle. 9 more to go. As I approach each hurdle I do a penultimate step. Clear. Several more hurdles to go. Same rhythm. I come off the final turn and I can feel one of my competitor's presence. I also know that the final straight-away is where I turn it on. I continue to push and I can see the finish line. Beat myself. As I clear the last hurdle and sprint for the finish line, my chest smacks the tape and I throw my arms up in triumph. I won! I am the new 400-meter hurdles conference champion!
The next year, my senior year, was special too. Same race, same conference and mostly the same competitors. I remember looking around, checking out my competition because I heard that one of the girls I beat my junior year was gunning for me. So instead of focusing on beating myself, I was focused on beating her. And I lost. Not only to her, but to someone else too. I came in third place.
Both races had an impact on me. The underlying message would help to define my life.
I am always focused on myself and what I can do to be a better me. I also know that there are going to be others in the 'race' with goals of their own too. But guess what? Just like in track and field, in life, every person has their own lane.
'Beat yourself' would later become the theme of the message to my clients. Do the best you can. Stop comparing yourself to others. Run your race. Stay in your lane. Beat yourself.
When you do the best you can, you're proud of yourself. It's when you leave something on the table that you start to falter. Think of a time when you did the best you could. What was the outcome? How did you feel?
There's something very freeing about not comparing yourself to others. In my experience, it has allowed me to compliment other people and be genuinely happy for them and their success. I am able to let my light shine. In what way do you compare yourself to others? What would happen if you focused solely on you?
Running my race and staying in my lane, both speak to me. Since my track & Field days are over, those phrases have another meaning. "Running my race" means focusing on what I feel I do best and it may not be one thing/event. "My lane" means exploring all of my passions and gifts. My lane is defined by ME. I can now also deviate from "my lane" and step on the line or even outside the line. I am extremely interested and passionate about doing all the things that I want to do and that I love. My life is about sharing my gifts with the world. We are all uniquely equipped with a set of gifts to explore. Isn't it time you run your race, step on or outside the lines in your lane and do the things that make YOU happy?
*this blog post was inspired by a Garmin advertisement I saw while riding the bus.**