Setting high goals for yourself will at times lead to disappointment. The disappointing times are when we have to have mechanisms in place so that we don’t fall into the trap of believing we can’t do something.
I found myself in this place during a recent fifty-mile race. Because of this weird inner ear infection thing I’ve had going on for quite a long time about eight miles into the race after a hard climb, I found myself experiencing extreme dizziness followed by a visit off the trail into the bushes. Along the trail on my way to the first timed cut-off aid station at eighteen miles, I found myself desperately off my goal pace. Every time I would try to push the pace, I would get dizzy again and have to trot off the trail to find a private bush.
By the time I made my way into the aid station, I was twenty minutes from cut-off time but more than forty-five minutes off my pace with the second most grueling section facing me. It was at this point that I seriously considered quitting the race. I mean what kind of crazy fool attempts something like this with vertigo?
Fighting Off “QUIT”
I fought off the thought of quitting and set out once again after about five minutes of depressing thoughts and struggled up the next section affectionately named the Wall of Death. 3,300 feet of climb in a little more than three miles, all through some of the stickiest mud one could ever experience. It was hard, I was sick and behind schedule but I knew that I had about 10 miles of really fast running ahead of me and I could make up time.
However, about a half mile from the summit I came upon another runner who was struggling worse than me. I told this person we should stick together and nail this thing through the next timed cut-off. This person wanted to turn around and climb down the section we had just crawled up.
Put Your Eyes On Someone Else
Decision time! Do I desert this person and go chase my goals or do I scrap my goals and help this person?
Not an easy decision on any day, even more difficult when you are driven by your goals and work hard every day to be a better you.
It took me less than five seconds to decide. As this person, vulnerable and desperately tired, began to turn around I told them quietly. “There is a difference between quit and stop. Right now, you have to decide if you are going to quit or whether you are going to force the race director to stop you by continuing on. Tomorrow you will regret quitting but you will never regret giving it everything you have to make it the next thirteen miles and if we miss the time, we miss the time and they make us stop. But I will be with you every step of the way and you can count on me not to leave you alone on this mountain.”
This person went on with me. We missed the timed cut-off by about ten minutes. And yes, I was disappointed because I knew without this person to drag along the mountain, encouraging them to keep moving and waiting after climbs for them to catch up I would have made my goal and finished the race.
However, I reached a far more important goal that day. I set my goals aside long enough to help somebody else. That is the mechanism I used this time and use throughout my goal setting life. I am okay with missing one of my goals as long as I can look back and see that at some place in the journey I took my eyes off myself and I helped somebody else.
Real Achievement — Help Someone Else
The key point I would like you to take away from this goal setting, crazy ultra-runner is that perhaps if in the pursuit of what we want, if we were to take our eyes off our goals and make sure we are helping other people along the way our communities, our world would be a much better place.
Besides, there’s another race coming up, another account to pursue, another contract to win. There always will be. But if we step around other people to achieve our goals, what have we really achieved?