While in Florida with my family for the holidays I decided to start running again. My middle daughter invited me to train for the Ky Derby Marathon with her. Well, for me, it will be the half marathon, as long as my knees hold up!
One day while out running I was approaching a long, very high bridge in the distance. I made the decision that I wanted to run all the way to the top. This decision felt like a good one until I got closer to the bridge. The closer I got, the taller it seemed to get and the more I started getting intimidated at the thought of running all the way up. The negative thoughts started creeping in. I started hearing that voice say, “dude, you cannot make it up there without stopping a dozen times”. Each of you know that voice, the one that is so good at talking you out of doing things. The voice that is so good at creating self-doubt. You know the one, right?
As I continued to run, I became more and more determined to not let that voice win. Rather than be overwhelmed at the height of the bridge, I started picking spots along the road that I could run to and then another spot, and then a sign, and then a crack and then…Yep, you guessed it. I made it to the top!!
None of that is really the reason for this story. As I got to the top and was feeling good about myself, I looked up and an elderly couple came walking towards me. You know, towards me at the top of the bridge. They had just walked to the top of the same bridge I had run, and they were not even breathing heavy.
As they approached me, I asked if I could take a picture with them. They looked a little puzzled, so I told them I was a speaker and a trainer and I had just recorded a video of running to the top of the bridge. This seemed to put them at ease and they graciously agreed to take a pic with me. After the pic, they began to share with me their story.
You see, they lived in Mexico City. They shared that the city was surrounded by mountains and that they walked to the top of a different mountain every weekend. He told me that in the beginning they were unable to make it to the top, but they just kept walking and climbing. Now, today, they have the endurance to make it the top of a mountain, or on this particular day, the top of this bridge.
Here's where the magic started to happen in the conversation. This gentleman said this to me. “Do you know what gets you to the top?” He said, “it’s your heart. If your heart is in the right place, it will lead you anywhere you desire to go. Your heart will take you to heights most can only dream about, but if your hearts not in it you will never get to the top”. And then he finished with this, “My heart gets me to the top, but my old knees have to get me back down”. As he said this, he let out this big boisterous laugh that echoed in the breeze atop this bridge. Honestly, I can still hear his laugh!
As they walked away and I continued to run I kept thinking about what he said. If your heart is in it, it will lead you wherever you want to go. The past couple of years have taught me that most of us spend too much time stewing about things that don’t matter, mad about things that mean nothing and worrying about things that just are not that big a deal. Bottom line, we invest so much of our lives into things that our hearts are not in. Does this make any sense? I think we can all agree that it does not.
For most of us, there is no chair lift to the top. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes desire. It takes perseverance. It takes resolve. It takes…heart.
The reality is that what it really requires is heart. When our heart is in it, most of the other things are in it too. There is more passion, more purpose, more energy, more excitement, more commitment and all the other necessary ingredients when our heart is in it.
We all at times must push through situations, many times in our careers, that our hearts are not in. But because we have responsibilities and people who depend on us, we cannot always just remove ourselves from these situations. However, I think we can all agree that life is too short to allow too many things into our lives that our hearts are not in. I am convinced that there is greatness in everyone. I think we all have a yearning to do more, to climb higher, to see that best view. Yet, to achieve more, we must become more protective of what gets our time and energy.
I challenge everyone to spend more time on people and things that add value to your life. Spend more time on things that impact you the most. And always remember what my new friend from Mexico City said, “If your heart is in it, it will lead you anywhere to want to go. But if your heart is not all in, you will never make it to the top”.
Is your heart in the right place? Is your heart into what you are trying to accomplish? Life is short friends. Stop wasting time. Stop wasting days. Find things that stir your emotions, that make you happy, that make you want to climb higher.
I am rooting for you! Keep climbing and always ...
Written by Derron Steenbergen, President of the Swagger Institute