Dear Gen Y,
We all need motivation in life that can come from anywhere. We just need to be aware and conscious enough to draw inspiration from our environment. We never learn anything if we stay at the top too long. Valuable lessons are learned when you are down and make mistakes. We understand how to overcome our weaknesses and learn how to improve. We all hate lectures and we all hate it when we get unsolicited advice from everywhere but then how do we learn? We learn when life decides to give us an unforgettable lesson. Inspiration can come from a board game, a book, or a person; but mine came from a teacher and a race.
When I was in the seventh grade, I loved to run and would participate in any racing event held in the school. I had always been the tallest girl in the class, but when I moved to a new school, two girls were taller than me and just my luck, also good athletes. I wasn’t intimidated, I thought they were no match for me. I always won races before and I was going to win again.
Sports day was around the corner, and I enrolled myself in every race, the 100, 400 and the 800 meters. I was so full of confidence that I never considered training for sports day. I never did that before and still managed to win, so why now? My teacher, Mr.Ollier kept telling me that the 800 m will be the hardest one and I should consider training for it but I brushed it off, and he let it go.
Finally, the day had come, and I won one short race after the other but I was looking forward to my Mount Everest the 800-meter dash (for a twelve-year-old, it would be Mt.Everest!). I stood on the starting line, stared hard on the path ahead of me, put my head down and felt all my energy flow into my legs. I was ready to shoot like a bullet and leave everyone in my dust. The whistle blew, and I charged ahead like a fiery bull. I left everyone behind in my smoke, but when I looked back the girls behind me were jogging instead of running. I didn’t understand what was going on? Certainly, they weren’t slow, so what should I do? Should I slow down too, why would someone do that? If I did, it will be harder to beat them. If I ran fast enough and put some distance between them and me, I could run slower towards the end and still be ahead. Soon enough, I got tired, and it started to hurt. I had to stop or drop dead. I bent down to catch my breath, and when I looked up, twelve girls had whizzed past me like horses.
I watched the trail of dust get smaller and smaller as I tried to get as much energy as I can to just move my feet. Questions started swirling around my head, should I just quit? There is no point now; I’ll just come last and at least finish the race. I started running and soon saw a girl ahead. I thought “Ok, let’s try to beat her and save the embarrassment of being last.” Soon I saw another girl and then another. My pace started getting faster every time I saw a runner ahead of me, and without realizing I was slowly gaining momentum. I kept beating them one by one and managed to finish fifth place. Later in the day Mr. Ollier stopped me in my tracks and asked me “So, what did you learn today?”.
Mr.Ollier knew I was going to lose this race and also knew how much it meant to me to win it. However, he still refrained from giving me advice or persuade me to consider otherwise. He sufficed that a valuable life lesson was going to teach me what I needed to know. A lecture would have done me no good. There will be many other races, but an opportunity like this would not come around again. So this is what I learned at twelve and over the years about life through this one race.
- Don’t be overconfident; it makes you miss the small details that turn out to be very important.
- Don’t gloat. Your fate is not in your hands. Anything can happen, and you can end up looking and feeling very stupid. (Not so nice)
- Endurance and Patience make you win in the long run.
- Keep your eye on the small goals instead of the finishing line. It’s not what you want, but at least you’ll be closer.
- When the going gets tough, change your plans. Improvise and be creative. Think about other ways you can achieve your goals.
- Its ok to lose but it’s not ok to lose the lesson. It is an opportunity to learn how not to lose next time and how not to repeat the same mistakes. You have the edge when you learn from your mistakes.
- Do Not Quit! Always try and see where you end up. It could be surprising and exciting.
- Be a Sport. Winning and losing is part of the game. A winner feels more pressure to maintain their standing and could take a fall any day; a loser has a chance to be a winner, don’t miss out on it. Be the underdog.
- Always start slow and don’t take shortcuts.
- Don’t get disappointed quickly and Don’t give up on yourself. There are plenty of opportunities that come by in life. This one might have brought you down, but it would have taught you a lesson to remember for life. Keep trying.
Thank you Mr.Ollier, and I forgive you for making me lose that day 🙂