So this year was a big year for me. Serious goals were set and work was done.
First and foremost I set the goal to run 12 races this year. My 12 labors as I chose to call it.
It was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I could come up with. It would all end with the Spartan Beast. 14 miles, a good bit uphill, in the heat, and 30+ obstacles.
Last year it broke me but this year I would be ready.
I trained five days a week. Gym at 5 am. Running 5, 7, and then 10 miles on weekends. All year long this went on. The other 11 races were practice and preparation for the Beast. (Most were 5 – 9 miles long on much easier terrain).
I don’t want to get into how I did. That’s not the point. I met my goals, let’s leave it at that. It would have been easier had I failed to be honest. I know how to learn from failure. I know how to cope and move on, try harder, and accept loss. This was different.
Don’t get me wrong. The Beast was far from easy. It pushed my to my absolute limit physically and mentally. I know I left everything out there and my training was 100% worth it. I learned what to do next time (and there will be a next time!) to be even better. However, it wasn’t the watershed moment I was expecting.
There is a powerful scene in a movie full of powerful moments, Kingdom of Heaven. Orlando Bloom’s character is seeking forgiveness for his sins and the sins of his mentally ill wife who committed suicide after a miscarriage and is supposedly condemned to hell. To find this peace he joins the Crusades with his long lost but now found father.
When he arrives at Jerusalem he goes to the mount that Christ was crucified on and he expects to have a great revelation. He does not. He says he feels nothing.
Sadly, that is how I felt. I meant to complete these 12 labors and find a great new peace or understanding or vision or I don’t know… a new catch phrase?
I sat in the car being driven home by a good friend and I was in tremendous pain from fatigue and cramps. My mind was racing as I held onto my hard won medal. Finally, I broke down and shared with them my disappointment with my friend. I thought I would have learned something? What do I do now?
What do you do when it is done?
The easy answer is plan the next thing. You’ve climbed the mountain, yes but it’s not the tallest mountain… so start again.
The problem is that if I just start again what have I achieved? How do I start again if I think the journey is hollow?
I talk a lot about dealing with failure and how to move on, how to eat it and get stronger, but what about winning? How does one cope with winning?
You got that job? You won that fight? You got the girl? You paid off the debt?
It is important to take time and learn how to win. To reflect back on what you’ve done and take pride in it.
There are two aspects of the world that will try to take this from you.
- Everyone gets a participation trophy so your awards, accolades, and accomplishments are diminished. Bullshit! You need to be able to see the difference between a participation trophy and a real achievement. You need to be able to see the difference in others and more importantly in yourself.
- People will tell you not to be proud. Being proud is sticky subject. Yes it can lead down a dark path to arrogance and ultimately make you lazy and complacent. However, modesty can be a false altar where you sacrifice your hard work for the sake of others.
So in feeling nothing I’ve found my revelation. I heard the message in the silence.
- Achieve things for yourself. The medal I got was for me. It is not for the world to judge and order and put ahead of or behind or even in the same world as the bloat of participation trophies. The medal is a token to remind me of what I accomplished. Remind ME. It can only remind me because it’s my achievement.
- Other people don’t get a vote in how I feel about my achievements. I am by far the most physically active of my family and friends. I ran the majority of the races and the Beast alone. Not because I am some solitary stoic monk but because I don’t have any friends or family that could survive the experience. They didn’t do the work. They didn’t accomplish the deed. They don’t get to vote on how I feel about the achievement or what it means.
So here are the rules. Do your work for you and you make sure to measure yourself.
I am not saying that the opinions of others don’t matter. That’s childish… they 100% do. They just don’t matter more than your own.
I am not saying don’t help others, work to make the world a better place, or be a good person. I am saying that you are the one who decides when you’ve done enough. You decide when it is good enough and you are the one who will know (if you are capable of being honest with yourself) if you gave it everything you had.