Imagine setting out to run a Marathon (which, for those who aren’t runners, is 42 long kilometres of running :-o ) and in the first kilometre you’re already thinking of the end. Now that is going to be one incredibly long and painful day. Rather... if you start the race enjoying every step and moment, taking everything in; scenes to see, thoughts to explore, people to meet, the time is going to float by so much easier and you won’t have missed so much learning throughout the process. Running a Marathon, well even a half from my experience, is a lot like life.
This is one of my all time favourite memories; being at the Gold Coast Marathon with my brother. I love this photo of John and me, because it represents so much. I honestly can’t remember how it came about that we made a plan to run the 2016 Gold Coast Half Marathon together, though, I would have been 100% ok if it got to the event and John pulled out. Instead, he absolutely blew me away and made me so incredibly proud. He had trained for the event physically and mentally, preparing for the day, knowing that the real test was going to be the day itself.
We both had our own goals in mind. For me it was just part of my process towards longer distance Triathlons, which some may say is admirable, but I think, what my brother accomplished through this process was so much more admirable and totally inspiring. You see my brother has been given a card in life that, once upon a time I would have said, you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. However, today, I question that thinking. He is one of the most in-tune people I know. Only this week, catching up for our weekly coffee-chat, he raised an unusual topic that I had only been wondering about the previous night. Now this happens all the time. Anyway, when he was around 18 years of age, he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Due to severe paranoia, it has been extremely challenging for him to be out in public spaces, any crowded events or even shopping centres, right up until this event.
Let me help you understand a little what it’s possibly like for people with this condition. Imagine being in a crowded room, but instead of hearing the noise and voices externally, you are hearing them internally, all speaking at once. They are getting louder, even shouting inside your head. Now if that isn’t bad enough, the voices inside your head often are not nice; they are getting louder, meaner, more persuasive, and attacking at you. While that is going on, you still have your own thinking, while trying to engage in a conversation and trying to act perfectly normal. How would you go living with that every day?
This is what I imagine auditory hallucinations are like and that’s just one of the symptoms of schizophrenia. So for my dear brother to say he wanted to do the Gold Coast Marathon with thousands of others, I was a little unsure how it was going to go for him.
Our day arrived and he was ready to go; nervous but happy and excited. We got there early, warmed up, checked out the finishing chute and wandered over to the start area, waiting among the 27,500 other competitors. I was doing ok up to this moment, knowing that I was with him, until it came time to line up. He was adamant that I leave him and go and get into my starting zone, as he didn't particularly want me running with him. I really didn’t care where I started and was hesitant to go but he reassured me he was fine and that we would meet at the end of the race. So reluctantly, I left him to stand among thousands, shoulder to shoulder, all alone and, strangely, appearing as happy as Larry.
John kicked so many goals that day, way more than just the finish line. That day was a huge part of his process of being well and managing his condition. We laughed, we celebrated and we shared a significant milestone together.
Today he intentionally goes into shopping centres and does his therapy, walking through and smiling at people along the way. People may wonder what he is doing, as he may not present as a normal ‘shopper’ but he is facing his fear every day, going through the process, doing his job in staying well. Should you see someone like this as you go about your shopping, make sure you take the time to connect with him with a smile to encourage him in his process of wellness and take a lesson out of his book, as I have done. He is a true champion and a model of Greatness.
Don’t miss the learning opportunities that are gained through the process, by being in a hurry to get to the finish line. Goals are fantastic however it’s the learning through the process and character development that is far more important than the ribbon or medal at the end.
I realise this is the same for being an Entrepreneur, running a business or anything in life for that matter. There is so much to learn and enjoy along the way, so kick back and enjoy the process as the results will look after themselves.
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