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Keep Going!

This past weekend I ran in a 5k, words I never thought I would hear myself utter, even in jest. While I didn't actually run the entire course, walking about 5 blocks of it, I did finish, and that felt really good. I hadn't quite fully understood what a mental game running is. You can convince yourself you can make it to the next tree, block, or garbage can, or the full 3.1 miles. You can convince yourself that your legs really don't ache (that badly), and that you can take that next stride, and the one following. In the end, as you turn the corner for that final stretch, you can see the finish line and your loved ones cheering and you know that while difficult, worth the effort, worth every step.

So, is life any different than running? You can convince yourself that you are a winner, successful, a loser, a victim, a martyr. And while each of those rings true for most people at one point in their lives, if even for a brief moment, have you signed those adoption papers on any one of those labels making them a permanent addition to your family, given them a room in your home, and set the table for them at dinner? If as I have heard so frequently lately, "thoughts become things" is true, then what is it that you are becoming? What are you thoughts making you, a victim or a champion?

A while back, I came across something that has stuck with me, I will paraphrase, "Don't look at the distance you have yet to travel, you will only be discouraged, look back in gratitude for how far you have come and move forward." It is about taking that next step. I have most recently been listening to Keep Going: The Art of Perserverance an audio book (hardcover) that I have had on my ipod for quite some time but was drawn to once again.

"Being strong means taking one more step toward the top of the hill no matter how weary you may be." Joseph M. Marshall goes on to describe a story in which a young woman had three suitors, and couldn't decide which one to marry.

So her father devised a test to determine which was worthy of his daughter. He asked each suitor to run to the top of a steep hill and back down again seven times on a cold rainy night. So they began, and the rain had made the hill muddy and the running was not easy, but the young men tried. By the third time they were soaked and had fallen in the mud and were soaked to the skin. By the fifth time, they were mostly crawling. And by the sixth time they were moving on sheer willpower. Each had completed the 7 journeys to the top of the hill and returned again, and it seemed as though the issue of who would marry the young woman had not been resolved. The young men collapsed thinking they had done everything they had been asked, when the father appeared only to ask them to climb the hill one final time. To which two of the suitors proclaimed that they could not, as they were too exhausted. The third young man, equally exhausted, stood and with all the remaining strength he could muster, took one more step and fell on his face. The father chose the third young man because he found the strength and spirit to try.

In the end, it wasn't an enormous effort, but that of one step that won him his bride.

Remember, life doesn't require it to be a long purposeful stride, forward movement is all that is required. At times in your life, you may feel that you are floating, gaining great distances with each step. At other times, it will take every ounce of strength that you can muster just to raise your foot and move it forward and not give into despair. Perhaps only a crawl. What is it that can defeat that despair, but hope. "Hope is one of the sparks by which life sustains itself. The ability to hope is one of life's greatest gifts...if we do not hope, we have empowered the cause of our difficulty. Every step is hope expressed."

What is your next step? What step can you take today to move your closer to a goal, to create balance your life, to make your work environment more productive or fulfilling, to make a difference in the life of another? You can do it, move forward, keep a positive attitude, remember it is a mental game. You CAN convince yourself, you CAN keep going.

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