Melissa and I feel fortunate to encounter amazing people on a daily basis. Many of these individuals we are blessed to call friends. For most of our friends, their accomplishments and experiences are accompanied with great humility, and modesty. It isn't a false modesty, but truly an appreciation for the abilities that have been given to them and a keen focus on utilizing their gifts in a way that stretches and grows them as people.
These people are exceptional at what they do and their motivation comes from conquering the task in front of them, not by fixating on the outcome.
I call it being "Outcome Aware, Output Obsessed".
When initially authoring this commentary, I was inspired by a good friend of ours that has personified this principle and as a result, qualified for the Boston Marathon. Little did I know, the events of the day would illuminate this for me at a very different level.
3 years ago, our friend Hannah Bailey, set our to find a different way to challenge herself to get "fit". Now you have to understand, Han would never describe herself as an athlete before this, in fact we would often joke that the Jazzercise class she frequented prior to this point was giving her about all she could handle. Leg warmers and all! ( LOL...Love ya, Han!) And so it began...
First, some weight training and Group X classes taught by her friends Liss & Kara. Even at the onset, Melissa would remark about Han's no quit attitude. Regardless of the intensity or duration of the excercise, she would modify but she would never miss a movement or rep.
As she passed milestones in the classes, Hannah set her sights on the pavement, then on the bike and then on the track! In every sport, we watched Hannah begin the somewhat awkward process of the first run or ride. As awkward as she would start, she would quickly accelerate into being an absolute beast on the bike, and speedster on the road.
Personal achievement is possible for everyone, but what sets certain people apart is their humility in the pursuit! For Hannah, what grew in these endeavors was her confidence not ego, strength not swagger, curiosity not expertise, and her faith not her self-reliance. Self, family, sports, music, causes...others...isn't that what love of should look like?
After having a knee surgery in 2011, several of my friends encouraged me to begin cycling. I am still a beginner, but I did have the oppotunity to do my first significant training ride with Hannah as my coach and teacher.
I had the opportunity to see all the things I heard about her firsthand. She was efficient, knowledgeable, fearless, and fast. But that wasn't what stood out the most. What will always resonate with me is how she encouraged me to focus on the next hill, the next 1/4 mile and at times, the next two cycles of the gears.
Everything within her (sometimes obscene) training regiment was based on pouring herself into the physical, emotional and spiritual output of the moment, never the desired outcome or event!
People that accomplish great things do that. They pour everything into the now. Not for some ethereal or profound reason. They do it because they accept the reality that the output event is the only thing in the moment that they can accomplish or control.
April 15, 2013
Literally hundreds of people were following Hannah as she was racing in a culmination event. After discovering a new found love for running and experiencing the freedom found in pushing herself to the limit, Hannah qualified for the Boston Marathon. Even leading up to the event, she would never commit to what she was going to do after the race. I never heard her say anything about the next race! She was excited and content to focus on being a part of the "runners superbowl" as a qualified competitor.
Hannah's husband and our good friend, Nick had made arraignments months in advance for them to enjoy the race and to be able to celebrate the accomplishment with a week in NYC. Melissa joined the Bailey's affectionately adorning the title "Best Athletic Supporter" in Boston to spend the weekend preparing for the day of the race.
The morning of the event went off without a hitch and at the 16 mile marker, we all got to see a photo on Facebook of Hannah blowing kisses as she passed Nick & Melissa along the route. In the final few miles, Han mentally focused passed the pain in her legs and numbness in her shoulders towards the finish line, and she had done it! She finished the Boston Marathon and headed towards the medical tent to get work done on her body.
26 miles in one of the most famous events in the world! Little did we know that the most important part of the race was still ahead.
Shortly, after arriving at the Med tent, the two explosions rocked the streets and the medical personnel rushed out of the area. Having not been reunited with Nick & Liss, and not knowing where they were Hannah was alone! Exhausted, frightened and overwhelmed there could have been thousands of different reactions. There, in the confusion with little left for energy or physical strength, there was one thing that HAD to happen...one more step...then another!
Those steps continued. They would continue out into the chaotic streets. They continued to the hotel where she would collapse after being reunited with her crew. They would continue while scrambling up to the room trying to connect with her family and friends back in Colorado. Each step continued to move her throughout the evening as they finally left the hotel to find a restaurant that was open with seating late into the night.
The irony of Hannah's experience is that it personifies the reality that both the greatest accomplishments and most tragic events live comingled together in the world all the time. Few of us rarely have the opportunity to experience them simultaneously. That does not diminish the fact that in each of those moments, there is always the moment after. That next step!
I intended to author this entry as a challenge to all of us to follow our passions and curiosities by pouring ourselves into the now event. The Output Event. To always be aware of the outcome as a landmark for where we want to go, but to become obsessed with the output in our days, weeks and hours. In those moments, the real reward is found.
As an ironic twist, even this post was not complete without one more lesson I have learned as a result of this season.
Despite the inevitable high of highs and low of lows that will take shape in moments ahead, when that moment is over, life moves forward. I am not diminishing the importance or significance of milestone events. In fact, I believe that this has illustrated that ALL of life's events are magnified in their significance because you never know what could change in an instant.
Just as the sense of fear or sorrow can snuff out the feeling of joy, so too can laughter and inspiration immediately light up your darkest hour.
We all experience different times in life when we wonder, when will it end? This can be a run of good fortune or a sequence of misery, but at some point those seasons will be over and a new one will begin. Each season requires its own share of your time, attention, talent and energy.
Stop everthing to celebrate whenever you can. Stop straining to see the light at the end of the tunnel and look for reflections of that light on the walls around you. Fight the desire to linger in the things that hold you back and give in to the passion for things that move you forward. Grow in your confidence not ego, strength not swagger, curiosity not expertise, and your faith not self-reliance.
Life is a journey of hills and valleys and we don't know when our race will end. Prepare yourself everyday for 26 miles & then...another step!