Weekly, I write emails to the AME team. Generally, I do not share these outside of the team but I felt this had relevance to many in the world today. Last week, I wrote about challenges and overcoming the odds. While we face challenges every day, albeit these challenges are generally small, facing bigger challenges is a common theme among the world right now. What it appears is life in general has hit many harder than ever, while Covid-19 has presented it's own ripple effect of struggles.
For some, these challenges look like overwhelming hours at work while trying to maintain family life and training. While more are working from home due to Covid-19, and this may seem great, many are facing higher hours or more demands on the job than ever before. For many, this time has provided a continued presentation of obstacles and barriers towards goals or business pursuits they are trying to accomplish. Others are overcoming injury, training related or not, which takes a toll both physically and mentally. Many are caretakers for family members who are sick, injured and/or elderly which is a load of itself and, on top of that, have had to find a way to manage the complex and confusing healthcare system. Finally, it seems many have recently faced the death (or anniversary) of a loved one.
The weight of each of these items is heavy. As we face big challenges, the weight of even the small challenges seems larger or more intimidating. Over time, if we continue to carry a load without working through it or determining a solution to step forward or ease the path forward, the load only multiplies. As this load multiplies our stress multiplies, we begin to lose our fire and passion for things that once brought excitement, our training begins to derail, we lose sleep, our immune systems weaken and we may even begin to get sick.
I'm currently reading "Finding My Voice," by Mike Reilly. One of the quotes in his book that I love is, "You can't tell just by looking at someone if they're having the race of their lives under extraordinary circumstances." This quote isn't actually by Mike, it's by an athlete who said this to him in a letter after Mike called him an Ironman in Kona as he crossed the finish line. This athletes name is Petri and it took him seventeen years and thirteen Ironman races to get to the World Championship in Kona. Three months before his race, he had a horrific bike crash. He drove HIMSELF to the hospital, part of his scalp torn off and his left eyeball hanging halfway down his cheek. He had reconstructive surgery three weeks later. During the surgery, he went into cardiac arrest, his heart stopped beating for fifteen minutes. They got him back and he went into cardiac arrest again. You can see how unbelievably meaningful it was for Petri to cross that finish line in Kona just NINE WEEKS LATER.
Overcoming the odds when they are stacked against us is all about how we approach them with our attitude. For some of these obstacles we must recognize that we do need time to heal, both mentally and physically. For others, we need to find a way to more efficiently organize and manage our time, get creative in how we approach the obstacle, ask for help or even gain a fresh perspective. Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. When life puts us on these roads, especially when that seems to be a repeated pattern, don't say "why me," say "try me."
Another story you might enjoy is on Chrissie Wellington's 2008 World Championship win in Kona. I wrote an article on this about a year ago so I won't go heavy in the details, but ultimately, she overcame great odds to win the race. Long story short, she was leading the race by five minutes, got a flat on the bike, blew through two CO2 canisters and was begging for a spare from athletes passing by. She ultimately lost 10 minutes, when one of her rivals gave her a spare as she blazed by on the bike. Chrissie fixed the flat, got back on the bike and ended up winning the race by 15 minutes. If you want to read more, click HERE.
Character in the face of difficulty is what matters. In some obstacles, it may feel like you are being targeted or singled out. Generally this isn't the case. Remember, if someone is treating you in a negative way, they generally have pain in their lives and it comes out as an attack on you. I have said this before and I will say it again, always AME for kindness, AME for strength, AME for beauty of all kinds. The best stories are of those who face overwhelming odds yet overcome them with character, class and grace.