Everybody needs hope

By Doug Strickel

A few years ago, I entered a 5K race with my wife and daughter.  The race was a fundraising event Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis. I don’t know how many people were entered, but there was a lot! We run these races occasionally and were prepared.  I always set a goal of beating my last time and never letting anyone pass me going up a hill.  The time improvement goal is just a focus on continual improvement, and the hill goal is a personal toughness challenge.

About ¾ of mile into the race, my daughter pulled away from me and wasn’t seen again for quite a while.  About halfway into mile two, there was a long, steep hill that seemed to last forever. In the backdrop of this hill, I could see the finish line over my shoulder and saw a few people finishing the race. I still had a mile left and the rest of that hill in front of me.

About ¼ of a mile from the finish line, I caught up with my daughter. She was barely jogging. I noticed that she had a terrible look on her face and was about to cry. She said, “I can’t go any further. I can’t go back up that hill again.”  She pointed to the hill that we had run during mile two and was clearly mistaken. We didn’t have to go back up that hill. In fact, we were now under ¼ of a mile from the finish line, but we just couldn’t see it.  I told her the finish line was just around the next corner and was the source of the music that we could be hear.  We didn’t have to go back up any hill.

Her whole demeanor changed. She took off again and left me a second time. She finished the race strong, and I came in a few seconds behind her.

Now there are a load of life lessons within that encounter.  For many of us, we are just getting over that hill now. We have had some challenging times. We are tired and somewhat frustrated. We can’t; however, let the past keep us from pressing on with life. My daughter was seeing that hill as an obstacle that she didn’t think she could overcome.  Her mind told her she was done. She didn’t realize the finish line was just around the next corner if she would just keep running. She was focused on where she had been and not where she was going.

Leaders need to be able to provide perspective and hope. We help people focus on where we are going and not allow our past to defeat us.  Leaders must present the view of a better tomorrow and the encouragement to press on through the challenges.  Most people will embrace a challenge if they realize the challenge is worth it.  Leaders provide the vision, the plan, and the motivation to press on!  That’s what makes one a leader worthy of following.

Always remember the following as well:

When your mind tells you that you’re done, you can do more.

Never look too far behind or too far ahead, because you may be looking at the wrong road.  There are times you need to alter your goals to help others. 

The finish line may be closer than you think so just keep running.

Oh by the way, my daughter’s name is Hope.

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