Thursday, April 12, 2012

Keep On Keeping On

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."

"It is always darkest just before dawn."

"Prosperity is just around the corner."

"Failure is not an option."

"A diamond is a piece of coal that has been under pressure."

Some of those are cliche, others are direct quotes.  They all say about the same thing, you got to keep on keeping on.

Last week I talked about how life throws curve balls at you, you get derailed.  You then have a choice.  Give up, or pick up the pieces.  Success is about getting up each time you fall. Here is a real life example of a major set back.  One I remember, and followed with great interest...

April 11, 1970:

42 years ago yesterday NASA's Apollo 13 lifted off.  America's third maned moon landing mission headed into space.  Beautiful launch, but after the spacecraft was underway  there was an explosion.

"The Apollo 13 malfunction was caused by an explosion and rupture of oxygen tank no. 2 in the service module. The explosion ruptured a line or damaged a valve in the no. 1 oxygen tank, causing it to lose oxygen rapidly. The service module bay no.4 cover was blown off. All oxygen stores were lost within about 3 hours, along with loss of water, electrical power, and use of the propulsion system." (See NASA web site for technical details if interested)

In one of the biggest understatement ever, James A Lovell Jr. radioed Mission Control in Houston and said, "Hey, We've got a problem here."

Mission control, in ever their professional unflappable manner replied, "This is Houston, say again please?"

"Houston, we have a problem."

The problem changed the whole flight from lunar exploration to one of survival in space.  In the movie that depicted the real life drama came one of my most favorite quotes, "Failure is not an option."

That attitude got those three astronauts safely around the moon and back home again.  Courage and determination won them through.  While we are not astronauts, or test pilots, we do have our own individual courage and determination.  We have our own goals, our own dreams, and our own challenges.  Life wouldn't be life with out challenges.

Set backs and challenges make us better.  We've got to dig in and keep going.  Years ago I worked with a contractor building a home.  We had all sorts of set backs, but we kept saying, "Failure is not an option."  We would work through whatever showed up.  We got the house built, on time and on budget.  

I came across this poem many years ago.  It has helped me to stick to my tasks.  I share it now with you.

The Race

Part 1:

“Quit! Give up! You’re beaten!”
They shout out and plead.
“There’s just too much against you now,
This time you can’t succeed!”

And as I start to hang my head
In front of failure’s face,
My downward fall is broken by
The memory of a race.

And hope refills my weakened will
As I recall that scene;
For just the thought of that short race
Rejuvenates by being.

Part 2:

A children’s race – young boys, young men
How I remember well.
Excitement, sure, but also fear;
It wasn’t’ hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope;
Each thought to win the race,
Or tie for first, or if not that,
At least take second place.

And fathers watched from off the side,
Each cheering for his son,
And each boy hoped to show his dad
That he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went,
Young hearts and hopes afire!
To win, to be the hero there,
Was each young boy’s desire.

And one boy in particular
Whose dad was in the crowd,
Was running near the lead and thought
“My dad will be so proud!”

But as he sped down the field
Across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win,
Lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself
His hands flew out to brace,
And mid the laughter of the crowd,
He fell flat on is face.

But as he fell, his dad stoop up
And showed his anxious face,
Which to the boy so clearly said,
“Get up and win the race!”

He quickly rose, no damage done,
Behind a bit, that’s all –
And ran with all his mind and might
To make up for his fall.

So anxious to restore himself
To catch up and to win,
His mind went faster than he legs;
He slipped and fell again!

He wished that he had quit before
With only one disgrace.
“I’m hopeless as a runner now;
I shouldn’t try to race.”

But in the laughing crowd he searched
And found his father’s face,
That steady look which said again,
“Get up and win the race!”

So he jumped up to try again,
Ten yards behind the last –
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought,
“I’ve got to move real fast.”

Exerting everything he had
He gained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead,
He slipped and fell again!

Defeat! He lay there silently
A tear dropped from his eye
“There’s no sense running anymore;
Three strikes, I’m out, why try?”

The will to try had disappeared
All hope had fled away;
So far behind, so error prone,
A loser all the way.

“I’ve lost; so what’s the use,” he thought.
“I’ll live with my disgrace.”
But then he thought about his dad
Whom soon he’d have to face.

“Get up!” an echo sounded low.
“Get up and take your place.
You were not meant for failure here.
Get up and win the race!”

With borrowed will, “Get up,” it said,
“You haven’t lost at all.
For winning is not more than this –
To rise each time you fall.”

So up he rose to win once more,
And with new commit,
He resolved that win or lose,
At least he wouldn’t quit.

So far behind the others now
The most he’d ever been
Still he gave it all he had
And ran as though to win.

Three times he’d fallen stumbling,
Three times he’d rose again,
Too far behind to hope to win
He still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner
As he crossed first place,
Head high, proud and happy,
No falling, no disgrace.

But when the fallen youngster
Crossed the line, last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer
For finishing the race.

And even though he came in last
With head bowed low, un-proud,
You would have thought he won the race
Just listening to the crowd.

And to his dad he sadly said,
“I didn’t do so well.”
“To me you won,” his father said.
“You rose each time you fell!”
Part 3

And now when things seem dark and bleak 
And difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy 
Helps me in my own race.

For all of life is like that race, 
With ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win 
Is rise each time you fall.

And when depression and despair 
Shout loudly in my face,
Another voice within me says, 
"Get up and win that race!"

by D. H. Groberg

So pick your self up, dust your self off and set your course to overcome whatever challenges are flying in your face.

Get up and win your race!

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