Once upon a time, two thirteen-year-old boys were watching the track and field Summer Olympics events on television. Neither of them had previously spent any time watching amateur athletes strive with their heart and soul to be their absolute best, so the boys were mesmerized by the passion, determination, and athletic grace displayed by the Olympic competitors. In a moment of unadulterated inspiration, the two of them made a pact to become Olympic track and field competitors before their twenty-first birthdays.
That afternoon, over a glass of chocolate milk, they mapped out a rigorous training plan that involved frequent workouts both before and after school. “If we stick to our training, we’ll be just as good the athletes on T.V.” one boy said to the other. “I can’t wait to get started!” the other boy replied.
The next morning at 6AM the two boys woke-up, put their running shoes on, and met outside to begin their first official training session. As they began running down the block, both of them had radiant smiles on their mugs. “This is awesome!” one boy exclaimed as they trotted toward the sunrise.
Reality Raises One Question
About nine minutes later, a mile down the road, the harsh truth inevitably revealed itself. Both of them were out of shape, slow, and completely out of breath. They had no previous athletic training and no clue how difficult it would be. All they could think about now were the aches, pains and exhaustion their bodies were experiencing.
Huffing and puffing, both boys stopped running and one fell to the ground on the side of the road. “This is way harder than I thought,” the fallen boy said between breaths.
“Tell me about it,” the other boy agreed as he, too, fell to the ground gasping for air. “Do you think it’s worth it?”
The other boy did not answer. Instead, both of them rested on the cool morning grass in complete silence for several minutes, slowly regaining their breath, and thinking about the question.
Suddenly the first fallen boy forced himself to his feet. “Yeah, I do think it’s worth it! Do you?”
The other boy stood up slowly and nodded. “Yeah, dude. I think so too.”
And without further hesitation, both of them began running again.
The following month, they joined their middle school track and field team. With continued practice and guidance from their coach, both of them eventually placed in the top ten percentile for various middle school track competitions during their seventh and eighth grade school years.
In high school, they spent all four years on the track and field and cross country running teams. Both of them consistently placed in the top five percentile for their grade and won various gold, silver, and bronze awards in the district competitions. During their senior year, their track and field team made it to the state competition. One boy walked away with a silver medal for the long jump and the other won a bronze medal for the 1500 meter run.
They both earned and accepted track and field scholarships to different state colleges. Over the course of the next two years, even though they were apart, they trained passionately, competed head to head against one another on several occasions, and each won various collegiate events. One time, they even placed first and second overall in the same exact event.
And although neither of them earned an Olympic medal, during their junior year of college, at the age of 20, they were reunited as teammates when they represented their country in the Summer Olympics.
When I was young, I was fortunate enough to have parents and mentors who taught me that the people who achieve their dreams and make the greatest impact in the world – whether athletically, musically, politically, technologically or otherwise – are rarely the most talented or gifted individuals. They are instead the ones who work the hardest, and who are willing to overcome all obstacles to see their dreams through to fruition.
The moments when we feel uncertain about how to move forward, when we are inspired by our dreams but overwhelmed by the work required to achieve them, are the moments when we must ask ourselves one simple question:
Do you think it’s worth it?
Photo by: Millzero