Everyone has experienced a moment of sheer difficulty just before a final moment of success. The most understood moment of difficulty for runners is the infamous "wall" that occurs moments before the finish line is in sight. Many business leaders hit their wall just before a big win or final presentation is due. If you have ever hit that wall in life, then this article was written for you.
Last weekend, I found myself in a sticky situation... Literally. It was a hot summer day, and the looming feeling of an 11 mile run wore me out before I had even laced up my shoes. I had plenty of sleep, ate well the week before, and knew that I had ran further distances in previous seasons. The run started out great, despite the overwhelming heat. As time went on, I felt doubt creep into my mind and knew that I had a long road ahead of me to finish. As soon as I hit the 8th mile, my legs began to feel week and the thought of 3 more miles convinced my mind that I couldn't hold a steady pace. I told my pacer that I needed to fall back, and felt nothing but defeat in my heart. I had a valid excuse from the heat, but I knew that I had more in the tank as I approached the final mile and experienced the energy reserves kicking-in. It was a long week of processing this run.
I reminded myself of an exciting trip to Ireland with my sister that we had planned months in advance. We had our bags packed, itineraries set, and our expectations set high for the St. Paddy's weekend ahead of us. As we boarded the plane, my sister scanned her ticket, turned around to smile at me, and walked ahead to find her seat. I scanned my ticket and heard a loud BEEP alerting the staff that my ticket was invalid. "Sir, you are not allowed to board this plane. Step aside and we will figure this out after everyone else boards." WHAT? 30 minutes later, I find myself stressing-out that my sister will be leaving the country without me as I discussed options with the airline staff. I repeatedly told myself "this is difficult, but I have been through similar issues and have ended up on top". My calm demeanor and light humor amused the staff, and they ended up giving us front row seats, which actually gave us a beautiful overnight view of the NORTHERN LIGHTS! We had the best seats on the plane with the largest window for optimal views. The moment before that moment was tough, but the end result was oh-so rewarding.
Today, I found myself in another rewarding situation. It was a mild summer day, and I had prepared my mind to conquer the 13 mile run ahead of me. I visualized the infamous "wall" popping-up before the finish-line, and also visualized myself running through the pain to victory. I had even studied top athletes during their best performance, and learned that their slowest mile was the 2nd to last mile of the race, and that their best miles were the first AND the last mile before the finish line. I felt great during the first 8 miles, but my muscles begin to tighten and my breath begin to quicken during the 9th mile. I repeatedly told myself "this is difficult, but I have been through similar issues and have ended up on top." The pain was tough, but I remained strong and continued to force myself to uplift other runners experiencing the same pain around me. As we approached the final loop, everyone's adrenaline kicked-in, we pushed through the pain, and felt a sense of euphoria, commonly known as a "runner's high."
There were clearly two different outcomes from these long runs. One was filled with doubt/defeat, the other was filled with confidence/victory. The only differentiating factor was the preparation for difficulty, and an expected victory during the final loop. Even during the difficulties of travel, I felt a sense of assurance during a stressful situation, remained calm, and persevered to see a supernatural success story come true. This is the power of belief during the moment before the final moment.
May the wind be forever at your back.