I read in story in the sports section of my local newspaper. The coach of our Division One NCAA Basketball Team was talking about the importance of getting off to a fast start.
I read another article on the same page of the same paper about the local NBA team. That coach was talking about the importance of finishing strong.
Is it possible they could both be right? Well, not only is it possible they are right they are in fact absolutely right.
But here’s what’s more important than both starting and finishing strong: finishing period.
Some successful people start strong, some successful people finish strong but the most successful people finish what they start….pretty much always.
I wonder if by chance anyone reading this knows who won the 1968 Olympic Marathon in Mexico. I suppose not but you could always look it up. I have no idea who won either but I do know who came in last….way last.
His name was John Stephen Akhwari, from Tanzania. Not long into the race John Stephen Akhwari got tangled up with some other runners and took a massive fall. He was pretty banged up and no one would have blamed him for quitting on the spot. But he made the decision to continue on.
Long after the first place runner had finished, long after pretty much everyone had left the Olympic Stadium one solitary runner entered the stadium. He was limping badly from a seriously injured leg. He was bleeding from cuts to his arms and head and he was clearly exhausted and in severe distress.
The few hundred people left in the stadium realized what was happening and began to cheer this runner on. To the shouts and cheers of those straggler spectators John Steven Akhwari crossed the finish line more than an hour after the race had been won.
He was quite the spectacle as the few remaining media in the stadium surrounded him to find out what had happened to him. Most were bewildered as to why he persisted when the race was clearly over.
His answer to their qurstions speaks volumes about the heart and attitude of true champions. He simply said that his country had sent him 5000 miles to the Olympic Marathon not to start the race but had sent him 5000 miles to finish it.
And finish it he did!
Do you have what it takes to finish what you started? When faced with unforeseen obstacles can you remember why you started and re-dream the dream of success that motivated you to begin?
Can you muster the strength to continue when no one would blame you for quitting? Do you have the courage to overcome your fear of failure and the heart to persist when the voices of doubt whisper quietly “you can’t?”
Do you have an attitude of success? An attitude that says it’s not a question of “if” you can finish, it’s only a question of “how” you will finish.
Success in any meaningful area of life requires that you overcome obstacles, many of which you may not have anticipated. That’s why all successful people have at one time or another demonstrated the character trait of perseverance.
You really can’t succeed without it, that’s how important it truly is.
Every worthwhile endeavor comes with challenges, some of them seemingly insurmountable. But people with an attitude of success know that quitting is a choice, they also know it’s a choice that can quickly become habit forming.
So don’t make that choice unless you absolutely have to and if you absolutely absolutely absolutely have to then don’t make it until you have another, better plan to begin again.