So, there’s a video floating around of a runner, Heather Dorniden, who fell down during a race, got back up and not only finished but won it. It was a long run; 600 meters. She had just taken the lead with a little over a lap to go when she suddenly tripped and tumbled to the track. The other runners carried on but before long Heather was on their heels and passing by each one of them.
The story and video are incredibly inspiring. The hope and determination that you can almost feel in those moments actually makes me tear up. How many times have we felt like we were finally moving forward in love, parenting, careers, or health, only to have some unexpected obstacle trip us up?
It’s even worse when the obstacle is yourself. When it’s you, it’s harder to hope. It’s harder to see the way up and through to the finish line. Because you’ve messed up. You’ve stumbled. You’ve fallen. And it seems like the race is over.
But Heather’s story reminds us that in the face of failure, the proper response is to pick yourself up and get back into the race. The reality is that you’ve fallen but you haven’t failed. Want to know the difference? Ask yourself these questions:
- Can I finish? If there is still time on the clock, then the answer is yes. As long as you are alive, each new day is an opportunity to rise to the challenge and haul tail to the finish line of your goals, dreams and purpose.
- Do I feel anything? Emotions are fickle but the beauty of them is that we can control them. With a simple perspective shift, you can change your self-talk from “You clumsy idiot! You lost the lead and the race!” to “You took the lead before and you can do it again! Get up and run!” When Heather got up, her stride was different. She ran like an underdog not a relaxed leader. Sometimes we have to get knocked down to really understand how resilient we are. Don’t stay down. Be determined to make the changes necessary to bounce back. Let your emotions propel you not oppress you.
- Am I still in my lane? It’s a split-second decision: Should I keep going or should I just move to the sidelines and watch the rest of the runners? After a fall, lift up your eyes. If you are still in your lane, get up, start running and focus on that lane until you see the finish line. There is no need to assess anyone else’s race and how they are running it. They may have bigger muscles, better coaches and may even have more experience. And they might not have fallen like you did. Still, none of that affects the fact that you are in the race and in the race for a reason. To finish. And if you can win? Even better. But first you have to decide to keep running.
On this journey of life, running a perfect race is unlikely. And that’s okay! Those imperfections offer an opportunity for growth, character building and can even become a source of inspiration for others. Look past the fall and focus on the finish line. Don’t give up; go harder.