Thursday, July 26, 2012

Olympics - Hopes and Goals - Determination

In my household when the Olympic Games begin, everything stops and we watch the games.  At least we have in years past.  My wife loves the Olympic Games, and after we were married I've learned that the TV stays on the Olympic broadcast, and no fair listening to the news, we have to watch the broadcast and see the moment.  So we have to be careful about news sources so as not to have any spoilers before we get to watch the games.

The 1992 Barcelona Summer Games had some fantastic drama in the 400 meter race.  Derek Redmond who didn't race in the 1988 games because of an injury made it to Barcelona.  The 400 meter race started, and he tore his right hamstring at 250 meters.  He got up off the ground and kept going, stumbled, fell.  His father came down out of the stands and told Derek he didn't need to go on, but Derek insisted he had to finish the race.  With the support of his father he crossed the finish line, last place, but sixty-five thousand people cheered.  Tears flowed freely.  A defining moment about determination.  The race was lost, the goal unfulfilled, but raw determination took him to the end, he finished what he started.

Part of success is simply raw determination.  I heard this poem in 1980, and then found a copy of it.  It has been folded and refolded and read and reread.  I share it now, it means a lot to me, I love the message, and it has helped me push on, even when I don't want to.  It has been a source of inspiration to me for years.

The sports world is full of stories, ABC Sports put it best with the Wide World of Sports, "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."  Life is full of setbacks, in so many areas.  My writing friends all fight up hill battles with their quests to be published, I include myself in this quest as well.  A published writer overcomes so much.  Business world has a lot to deal with, so many challenges, so much success comes through pure, raw, unadulterated determination.

“The Race”

--D.H. Groberg

"Quit!" "Give up, you're beaten!"
they shout at me and plead,
"There's just too much against you now,
this time you can't  succeed."

And as I started 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 my being.

A children's race, young boys, young men;
now 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 that 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 sped,
as if they were on fire
To win, to be the hero there,
was each young boy's desire.

And one boy in particular,
his dad was in the crowd,
Was running near the lead and thought,
"My dad will be so proud."

But as he speeded down the field,
across the shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win
lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself,
his arm flew out to brace,
And 'mid the laughter of the crowd,
he fell flat on his face.

So, down he fell, and with him, hope. 
He couldn't win it now.
Embarrassed, sad, he only wished
he'd disappear somehow.

But, as he fell, his dad stood 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 the fall.

So anxious to restore himself,
to catch up and to win,
His mind went faster than his legs. 
He slipped and fell again.

He wished 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 that 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 run real fast!"

Exceeding everything he had,
he regained 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 any more. 
Three strikes, I'm out...why try?"

The will to rise had disappeared,
all hope had fled away.
So far behind, so error-prone,
closer 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,
who soon he'd have to face.

"Get up," an echo sounded low,
"Get up and take your place.
You weren't 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 no more than this
--to rise each time you fall."

So up he rose to win once more. 
And with a 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 rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win,
he still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner,
as he crossed the line, first place,
Head high and proud and happy;
no falling, no disgrace.

But, when the fallen crossed the finish 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, unproud,
You would have thought he'd won the race,
to listen 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."

And now when things seem dark and hard
and difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy
helps me in my 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.

"Quit!" "Give up, you're beaten!"
They still shout in my face,
But another voice within me says,
"Get up and win that race!"

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