Let’s be honest, at some point or another we’ve all taken on a project that is never finished. For some of us, the choice to give up may be easy and guilt free. For others, the idea of throwing in the towel is more than just difficult. It’s painful. For my friend Gary, it was a matter of life or death.
Gary Banks took on a challenge that many would never dare nor dream to do—he made the decision to complete an Iron Man Triathalon by the age of thirty. In making this decision, he knew two things: the training would be hard and the feat would be huge. For months, despite his excess weight and self-proclaimed clumsiness, Gary diligently followed a training schedule. He was determined in his mission.
Almost immediately he began noticing some serious changes. The forty pounds around his belly had miraculously melted away. He lowered his cholesterol and was able to stop taking medication. He was losing weight and gaining muscle while simultaneously becoming more proud of his body and abilities. He developed a newfound confidence that nurtured an outlook radiating in perseverance and optimism. By the time the race was upon him, he was happier, more passionate, and more satisfied in his life.
That is until he entered the last stretch of his race. After swimming 1,500 meters, biking 100 miles and running 22 miles, Gary lost all his steam. He collapsed mid-stride with only four miles to go in completing the challenge of his life. Barely able to breath, as the paramedics surrounded him Gary knew that crossing the finish line was impossible. He was, in all sense of the word, utterly defeated.
“So many people told me I should be proud of what I accomplished, and though I appreciated their efforts, the sympathetic praise only made me feel worse. In the end, I knew the months of hard work and dedication amounted to nothing more than a fizzled dream. That thought, more than anything, was the hardest realization I had to overcome.”
There’s no doubt that Gary’s race performance was valiant. In fact, for those of us who have never participated in an Iron Man, his efforts appear flat out impressive. Yet, no one can deny him of his frustration. Falling short of a goal, especially one as physically and mentally challenging as this, can be emotionally excruciating.
This story raises an interesting point when it comes to creating goals. We often are told that raising the bar too high will inevitably bring failure. Though failure isn’t necessarily bad, this thought process is certainly reasonable to consider. After all, weight loss coaches, personal trainers, and dietitians would all agree that striving to lose a hundred pounds in a month is far from feasible. But we shouldn’t deny that setting large goals can have profound significance. In Gary’s case, aiming to complete an Iron Man did more than just boost his ego. It cultivated his motivation. Not only did he get the chance to challenge himself physically, but in the process he lost weight, adopted a healthier lifestyle, became more confident and gained more satisfaction in his life. The problem wasn’t that he set his sights too high. It was that he underestimated the value in the accomplishments he made along the way. Excellence comes not from a single result, but from a day to day process that leads to success.
No matter what the end result may be, there are always positive milestones in a project. All that’s needed is the right outlook. To learn more consider contacting our productivity consultants. We help individuals become more productive, more effective, more efficient and most importantly, more satisfied.