What do you do when you find yourself down on the track while the race goes on without you? We all trip and fall. The question is what comes next?
How often do we use our setbacks as an excuse to check out? We walk off the field before the whistle blows because it’s easier on our bruised egos and depleted resources than getting back in the race.
Here’s a recent example from my own business. A few years ago I ran a campaign for my own school. It was a start up then. The initial response was far below my projections, but I was tempted to let it go. The results wouldn’t have been stellar, but they weren’t terrible either.
Then my coach challenged me. Was I quitting before the whistle sounded? There was still time to reboot the campaign and change the outcome, he said. And he was right. I rolled up my sleeves, retooled the campaign, and drastically changed the results. In the end I actually beat my projections.
- Our response builds our character. Very often in those moments where we are tempted to bail, our character is a stake. Character isn’t fixed. As Oscar Wilde said, it’s made and unmade by our decisions. When we push through difficulty and see things to the end, we’re developing our character in a positive way. When the urge to walk off the field comes – and it will – ask yourself what kind of person you want to be.
- Our response tests our true abilities. Whatever we think about ourselves or the future, if we walk off the track, we never really know what we’re capable of or what was truly possible.
- Our response impacts others. I wasn’t just running for myself. I was running for my team, for my school, for my family and community. The impact of my decision was far-reaching – even down to us discussing it today.
There’s something at stake in every decision to stay in the game that goes well beyond ourselves. Quitting not only robs ourselves of needed character development and a deeper understanding of ourselves, it has an immeasurable impact on those around us.
The issue in all of this isn’t wining or losing, but whether we’re willing to play full out. There are real things at stake – personal, professional, and beyond. We can’t afford to cheat ourselves or the people counting on us buy walking off the filed before the end of the game.