This one is for anyone who gets started in a project, a relationship or a massive responsiblity and discovers how hard things can get…
It happened in the Olympics in Mexico City back in 1968:
At the Olympic stadium, the sounds of police sirens captured the attention of the few remaining spectators in the Olympic stadium late that particular evening.
Out of the cold darkness he came. John Stephen Akhwari, the final runner in the 26-mile marathon, a young man from Tanzania, entered at the far end of the stadium. His country was in the Olympics for the first time, since being established in 1964. As he came, pain hobbled every step he took; his leg was bloody and bandaged from a bad fall very early in the race — he had run and walked most of the marathon that day in great pain.
The winner of the Olympic marathon had been declared over an hour earlier. But still this final runner had pressed on. When he crossed the finish line, the small crowd roared its appreciation.
Afterward, a sportscaster asked him why he had not simply retired from the race, after being injured and knowing he had no chance of winning. He seemed confused by the question. Finally he answered: “My country did not send me to 9,000 miles to start the race, they sent me to finish”.
Finishing — and finishing well. The challenge to you and me very often is precisely the one faced by Akhwari that day. It’s not the challenge to win. His competition, he knew, was not with others when he took the last legs of his race. It was with the dogged temptation to settle, to give in, to declare himself a loser and act like one! Have you made the powerful discovery that your challenges are intended, not to get you out of the race, but to steel your determination to finish your race.
The temptation to quit a job, a marriage, a business might be beyond anything you anticipated when you began. You’ve maybe heard the voices of other early quitters telling you what a waste it is to continue. But something tells you, there’s more to this that a line at the end of the track. You ready to join the company of finishers?