Author: Terry Dasher
In 1968, John Stephen Akhwari the marathon runner from Tanzania finished last at the Olympics in Mexico City. Injured along the way, he hobbled into the stadium with his leg bloodied and bandaged. It was more than an hour after the rest of the runners had completed the race. Only a few spectators were left in the stands when Akhwari finally crossed the finish line. When asked why he continued to run despite the pain, Akhwari replied, “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me here to finish.”
Did you know that fifty percent of track athletes who rank in the top ten in the US in their event earn less than $15,000 annually from the sport? It’s not the love of money that keeps the athletes returning to their starting blocks. Through disappointment, defeat, and injury the athlete keeps coming back—he keeps training and moving forward. At this point, one must raise the question: Why? Is there some magic the athlete has that no one else does? According to research, there is one component to the athlete’s longevity and success. Motivation is the key.
Without a desire and determination to improve as an athlete, all of the other mental factors, such as intensity, focus, and confidence are meaningless. To become the best, one must be motivated to do what it takes to maximize one’s ability and achieve one’s goals. Research about college-age swimmers and professional rugby players have shown that the biggest factor in predicting burnout was the athlete’s own devaluation of the sport—caring about it less or attributing negative qualities to it.
If motivation is the key to perseverance, how does one get the motivation to succeed? There are five things that anyone can apply to his or her daily routine:
1. Stop waiting for someone to motivate you. What you need to motivate yourself comes from within you and not without.
2. Stay relevant. In academics, students are continually asking why is this study important, and how is it going to help me in life. Keep reminding yourself daily that your life has purpose and meaning. God did not create you to be insignificant and meaningless. Everything that comes at you has reason and can serve to bring you to the height of your calling.
3. Stay curious. Be inquisitive. Look at things from both sides. Don’t let others think for you. Do your own research. It very dangerous to stop asking, “Why?” God gave you a brain, use it for yourself.
4. Stay connected to your gift—this is your strength. It is what has been given to you, so that you may contribute to the good of life.
5. Get off the couch. Make contact with the outside world. Nothing more needs to be said about that.
On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first man in history to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. Within 2 months, John Landy eclipsed the record by 1.4 seconds. On August 7, 1954, the two met together for a historic race. As they moved into the last lap, Landy held the lead. It looked as if he would win, but as he neared the finish he was haunted by the question, “Where is Bannister?” As he turned to look, Bannister took the lead. Landy later told a Time magazine reporter, “If I hadn’t looked back, I would have won!” Never look back. Keep pressing forward to the finish line.