It came out of nowhere when I heard it. My buddy Jeff and I were nearing the final miles of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon this past May. I was running bandit style (no bib on my shirt) as Jeff was on his way to qualifying for Boston in his second ever marathon. The crowd began to increase in size over the last few miles.
As we approached a water station, I grabbed both Gatorade and water so Jeff did not have to worry about moving anymore than he physically had to. As I handed one of the cups to him, a spectator yelled out, “Teamwork is Dreamwork!”
Often times, running can become very much an individual task. Battling the inner demons and physical pains as the body gets absolutely battered at different points in time. Inside of each runner is that self-motivation and intrinsic reward in telling yourself not only can I do this, but I will do it. Through our own personal goals, be it in running, work, faith or life in general, it is easy to want to become self-absorbed and make everything a ‘one-man show’.
Looking back in history, there have been several men and women who have become legends for years to come and have established benchmarks in their respective fields. Amelia Earhart is the first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Sure, she had a desire to learn aviation, and she accomplished this feat as a solo flight. Behind the scenes, Neta Snook taught Amelia to fly, and thus enabled her to achieve her dreams – just one example of teamwork contributing to the success of an individual.
These examples are in every corner and crevice of the earth. Behind each great performer is a great mentor, a brilliant educator, and often times, an amazing friend. I can honestly say that everyone needs to have at least one of this type of person in his or her daily life. By no means does your ‘team’ have to bring you the Presidency or earn you a million dollars. To be frank, this one person simply needs to support you in all of your endeavors, encourage you in all tasks, and genuinely care and love you for all that you are. As a team, if you can reciprocate these feelings and emotions with one another, your individual efforts will lead to a team victory.
In my own life, I have been blessed to have a person of this nature by my side for three years exactly on this date (June 30, 2013). She pushes me, she motivates me, and she inspires me to attain all that I can. Without her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, nor would I have achieved all that I have in the past three years.
Words can’t express how thankful I am to have Jessica in my life. Although we have spent thousands of miles apart for extended periods of time, our teamwork helped us to maintain our strength and fight each and everyday in bettering ourselves and one another. One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from Rudy. In the movie, Rudy’s best friend Pete surprises Rudy on his birthday with a cupcake and a leather Notre Dame jacket. Rudy had always dreamed of going to Notre Dame and knew Pete didn’t have a lot of money. Pete simply looked at Rudy and said: “HAVING DREAMS IS WHAT MAKES LIFE TOLERABLE.”
More importantly, having someone to share those dreams with makes the road even better than tolerable – it makes is enjoyable, purposeful and meaningful. Together Jessica and I have made cross-country road trips, lived internationally, and explored parts of this world that neither may have never seen were it not for one another.
An important component of having such a great teammate is setting goals together. There is nothing wrong with having individual goals and supporting one another, but it is imperative to work towards a task together. Personally, a goal that Jessica and I had was to run a race both internationally and nationally.
When we lived in Guatemala, we completed a 25K together while running through the streets of Guatemala City. Most recently, we crossed the finish together (literally her on my back) as we completed the Louisville Marathon. Despite the circumstances, her inner drive to complete that race amazes me each and every day.
For 4 months, we trained everyday for the Louisville race. Teamwork is getting up at 5AM on the regular to complete a morning run before work. Teamwork is getting back to the gym for an evening workout. Teamwork is bundling up when the windchill reads 17 degrees to complete that first 20 mile run. Teamwork is sacrificing (to best of our abilities) sweets and other foods while training. Teamwork is completing nearly every training run for a race knowing that both people are prepared for the big day.
While battling injuries for the last four weeks of training, Jess stuck with it unsure as to how she would feel on race day. On race day, she performed like a champ. Not because she ran her best race ever, but because she pushed herself to the absolute extreme. Succumbing to injury and a walk jog for the last 10 miles of the race, she was able to dig deeper than anyone I have ever seen and finish the race when thousands of others would have simply dropped out.
To make the final moments memorable, she jumped on my back at the finish line and we crossed together as a team. The moral of my story is this…
When you believe whole-heartedly in another person, you will form a great team. As a team you will soar to new heights and achieve success. Often times it isn’t the person doing the carrying who is the driving force within a group. More often than not, it is the one being carried.
Because they are the one exhibiting trust in the person next to them knowing they will never let go. The one being carried is also the one who cares so much about what the team has worked towards, that despite whatever circumstances he or she is in, they are going to make sure the team finishes. Finally, the one being carried is a fighter. Someone who is going to fight to the finish, pushing through all physical and emotional battles because he or she knows that the strength of the team depends on having both people.
On this day, I hope that each of you can look to your side and find a comrade who provides you with the tools you need to work together to reach your dreams. My wish is that you and that person dream together, train together and achieve together. Just over three years ago, I found that person, and today I am forever thankful to say that I have found the greatest teammate I have ever had.