Below is a letter I haphazardly penned to my Change through Challenge students a few hours after they all completed the Estes Park Marathon June 16, 2013.
The victory today made the long drive from home from Estes Park one of the most pleasant drives ever—I trust this was true for all of you as well.
As it may take several days to mentally process the enormity of the accomplishment each and every one of you has achieved today and over the past 21 weeks, I would like to leave you with a few final thoughts.
First of all, I hope you will all display your race medals in a conspicuous place at work or home—perhaps adorning your future college degree. For this medal is more than just a token of a well-fought race, it will serve as a reminder—a reminder to squash the times of self-doubt and illustrate that anything, ANYTHING is possible with courage, effort and determination.
Second, your academic careers mainly focus on learning about the world and the technical skills to survive in this world. I hope this class experience has taught you something about YOURSELF and the PERSONAL SKILLS to prosper in this world –skills such as: discipline, determination, persistence, leadership, goal-setting and old-fashioned GRIT—skills which, in my opinion, will prove far more valuable to you personally and in the marketplace.
Third, many of you have expressed disappointment that the training is over. I would argue that this past semester is only a FIRST step. For the life skills you have established in this class have infinite potential for development and refinement—not just for a better race, but for a better life. So I say continue to build your library—and sign up for another race—a scary race! Go farther, go faster but do something that continues to keep you outside your comfort zone--for this is where true improvement comes and what the marketplace is craving for. As business author Seth Godin writes, “the marketplace wants people who would rather be sorry, than safe.”
One final thought. In my opinion, the only thing better than DOING what you love, is SHARING what you love. So here is the last (extra credit) assignment I hope you will consider: share this experience with others--share it with your friends, share it with your family, share it with your neighbors—share the joy that can only be derived from the satisfaction of self-knowledge and personal achievement. Instead of taking a friend out to lunch—take them out for a RUN. Take them to Waterton Canyon at sunrise or Washington Park on a cool Fall morning. Show them that life is far richer than TV sitcoms and shopping malls. As Zig Ziglar once opined, demonstrate to the world that happiness does not derive from PLEASURE…but from VICTORY.
Friends, I wish you the best in your careers. And as your lives fill up with work, mortgages, and kid’s soccer games, I hope you will remember to find a little time for yourself each day—and run. Your friends, families, and the marketplace need the creative things from you that can only be created from lacing up and heading outside.
So lace up…I’ll be looking for you.