A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way
Last weekend I had the opportunity to race in the 2015 Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon. An impromptu decision, yet one I’m thrilled to have made. As I contemplated whether or not to run, I realized that I would soon be relocating to a new city, and there was no better opportunity than to compete in one last race in my hometown.
Even more special, it was five years prior that I stood at the starting line for my first ever ‘race’ – the 2010 Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon. It had all come full circle, the stars were aligned, and it was something I couldn’t not do. Have you ever experienced that, something you couldn’t not do?
The five years prior have been an incredible journey. An adventure that would not have been possible without the love, support and encouragement of a number of people. These were the people who stood behind me in all of my decisions, and the ones who believed in me and had confidence that I would reach new heights.
Thank you, to each of you. For it was your encouragement that has allowed me to stand where I am today. The coffee meetings, notes and emails, and genuine caring attitude has gone a long way. I am excited to pay it forward, and do the same for others, as you have done for me.
Bits and Pieces of Encouragement
Throughout the race, thousands of fans and spectators lined the streets. Young kids sticking out their hands for high fives, husbands and wives cheering on their spouses, and home owners on their porch, all took part in this special day.
Not a single mile passed when I didn’t smile. Not a moment when I thought to myself, “I’d rather be doing something else.” Church groups, football teams, and cheerleading squads, all giving up their Sunday morning to provide race support for the more than 37,000 runners on the pavement.
Encouragement was not the music playing through my headphones. It was the two-man band playing classic rock on the sidewalk at 6:45am. Encouragement was not a handwritten ‘good luck’ text from a friend or family member. It was the people lining the streets and holding signs with quotes to the liking of “whine now, and wine later”.
Each and every part of the race is what makes it special. Each piece provides the extra strength that is needed to take one more step and to keep moving forward. For on this day, there were no racial barriers. It wasn’t a debate of your political representation. There was no male or female, straight or gay. Instead it was a community of believers, a community of ‘can-do’ attitudes, inspiring and encouraging one another.
Dare to be Great
Shortly before Mile Marker 10, I found myself on a downhill and passing a used car dealership to my left. The sign in dealership driveway read:
Congratulations to the 2015 Cincinnati Flying Pig Runners
Dare to be Great!
For the remainder of the race, I repeated it over and over again.
Dare to be great.
Being great requires effort. Being great requires hard work. Being great requires overcoming adversity. It requires growth and necessitates physical and mental strength.
It is not something that you can accomplish when you roll out of bed in the morning. Rather, it is worked on for weeks, months, and even years.
Just as the marathon course had several hills, twists, and turns, so does the path to greatness. You will be challenged and you will struggle, but through it all you will breakthrough.
Four words – one small phrase of encouragement. It probably didn’t take more than 5 minutes to arrange the letters on the sign. But, the encouraging words of one company inspired thousands of runners that day. The words didn’t inspire the runners to merely cross the finish line. It inspired them to achieve something that so many others weren’t, and for that reason, they were daring to be great.
As you approach the week, I will say it once more and challenge you to say it aloud to yourself. It is with this little piece of encouragement, that I’m confident you can overcome any obstacles or hardships you are faced with in the days to come.
Send an uplifting note to someone fighting medical issues.
Call a friend whom you haven’t talked to in weeks.
Do something for yourself, and do it while being as genuine and authentic as you can.
Remember, it is the encouraging actions of a few that make a lasting impression for so many. And in doing so, you are daring to be great!