“The greatest satisfaction in life comes from helping someone else reach their fullest potential” Truer words have never been spoken. As a boss, friend and certainly as a parent it’s a concept I embrace whole-heartedly. Which is why I found myself extending a business trip turned family vacation into two additional days of focused fact finding. I traveled with my fourteen year old aspiring high school distant runner to Ogden, Utah to spend a few days with a world champion. How many people do you know personally that own not only one world record, but two?! I know exactly one, which is why I found myself at his door step, child in hand. “The easiest way to succeed in life is to find someone who has succeeded at doing what you want to do and do what they did!” Brad Barton is a former Olympic Qualifier and a current two-time World Record holder in the Steeplechase. Dudes got wheels and at 48 he has something even more valuable to me; an encyclopedic knowledge of running and the art of racing. I played football. My son is a runner. Hello Brad!
Brad’s a friend but better yet transcribes to the same school of thought of helping others reach their fullest potential. It’s why he criss-crosses the country delivering knock-out motivational keynotes and was more than willing to spend two days mentoring my boy. As we sat together watching him break down both of his world record performances, stride by stride, turn by turn, thought by thought, I felt I was running the races with him. More importantly though my son was running it in his mind too. As Brad spoke my son absorbed the techniques of a seasoned running vet and even more importantly, the mindset of a world champion.
I asked Brad why all the races we broke down he was starting the race if not in last place, second to last? “Simple” he said, “Those young kids know how to run but not how to race!” And as lap after agonizing lap played out before my own eyes, kid after talented, but raw, kid fell to this not so old, slightly balding buddy of mine. “Look right there” he explained with all the enthusiasm of someone who owns two Masters World records. “Look at their arms flailing, wasting energy!” he stated “All I’m thinking to myself here is calm, quick and short with every turnover,” proclaimed Brad. “Did you get that Ryan?” I exclaimed with equal enthusiasm for the gift of gold we just received!
I don’t get to run the races for my son, nor do I want to. I do get to expose him though to others who can help him better than I, to reach whatever his maximum potential. Some might call that parenting, or even coaching, I call it common sense. I know a World Champion, how could I NOT expose my son to him?! My son learned a ton as did I but that’s not all I cared about. I just wanted him to learn one thing he could apply in every race to gain a potential edge over the next guy. The one thing he learned, which was analogous to me and if you’re willing to go through the pain maybe you too, is this; Don’t ever allow yourself to fall behind a runner when you come alongside them no matter how tempting it gets! Pick up your momentum and go around ’em every single time! Whooh! Words to run by for my son and live by for the rest of us. And when you live your life running like that, you too might just find yourself performing like a World Champion at your chosen craft.
So here’s to picking up your step a little bit tomorrow, in whatever you do, and then doing it even a little more the next. Because if you allow yourself to fall back and draft off the guy in front of you, just as the saying goes “when you’re not the lead dog your view never changes.” My son now see’s that, how he runs his race is now up to him.