Giving My Best

My swim coach Tom wrote on the workout board something like “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift” – Pre

Which is a quote from the running legend Steve Prefontaine and as I swam the next set I started thinking that it’s pretty easy to give 100% when your goal is within reach, but what about when you have a wild and crazy dream? You know that secret thing you want to do but wonder if you will ever be successful.

When I did Ironman Florida I met Jeff at the carbo dinner before the race. This was his third attempt at an Ironman previously he had two DNF’s. That means he did not finish. The Ironman race has three different time cutoffs. You must finish the 2.4 mile ocean swim within two hours and twenty minutes. You must then complete the 112 mile bike course by 5:15pm. Incidentally the race starts at 7am, so this is after 10 hours and 15 minutes. Finally you must then complete the 26.2 mile marathon by midnight or a total of 17 hours. Back to my friend Jeff, the last time he had tried he didn’t make the bike cut off consequently around mile 90 they told him he was done. This is what every triathlete fears. Imagine training for a year, pushing hard through two thirds of the race, practically a whole day then being told you must stop because you were not fast enough. How do you give it your all when the risk of failure is high?

Sometimes you never even try. I have a couple dreams I’ve sort of set aside because they are too unlikely, the odds are against me ever being successful. Why attempt to do something that isn’t going to work? My son Ryan plays in a band. There are millions of bands dreaming of becoming the “rock stars” of their genre with little ever achieving stardom. Does this mean he shouldn’t give it his best? No because along the way he grows as a composer, musician and artist. Not only that but Ryan enjoys the process. He should play because it gives him purpose and a sense of direction. Now my friend Jeff whether he completed an Ironman or not was an accomplished triathlete benefiting by being physically fit. He learned and perfected his training getting faster then in Florida he made the swim cutoff. When 5:15 rolled around he had completed the bike course. Jeff put on his tuxedo and finished the marathon completing Ironman Florida in 16:58:14!

Dreams do come true which is why we should give our best. You try again and again eventually achieving success. Yes, there is the chance that you will go down swinging but if you never try you never know. I’ve found that if I focus on what I want and quit worrying about failure I enjoy the process. A few years ago an entrepreneur friend explained taking a risk saying “Back when nobody told us we couldn’t do it.” Most of the time it isn’t people telling us we can’t do it, it’s ourselves. That far fetched dream I’ve been sitting on, it’s time to take action. How about you what would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

“If you want something badly enough, make an attempt. If you want to paint, get a brush and do it. If you want to sing, sing. A lot of people get scared. They're afraid to fail. Take that word out of your vocabulary. You don't "fail." You've "tried your best."--Jane Seymour