When you experience pain, what do you do? How do you react? Do you avoid it at all costs? Or do you, embrace it, use it to propel you to greater success and accomplishments than you ever thought possible? Today we talk about how a single African tribe has come to totally dominate the running world, and what it means for you.
DISCLAIMER: Parts of this story that are a bit graphic, so if your children listen to this podcast with you, we would suggest that perhaps you listen to it first and determine whether you want them to hear it–it’s not explicit, we just describe some of the extreme pain that these Kenyan runners endure…
There is a pervasive and misleading myth in today’s culture about what passion truly is. This myth says that passion means doing what you love and loving every part of what you do. Our newborn son recently showed me just how wrong this myth is.
Do What You Love…Then What?
There is a famous quote attributed to everyone from Marc Antony to Confucius to Harvey MacKay. It says:
Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
In other words, follow your passion and the “work” will seem easy.
This myth says that if you can only find something you are truly passionate about, you will never know pain, hard work, or toil a day in your life. This myth could not possibly be more wrong.
Have you ever pushed down pain to the point that you could no longer feel? Or pushed fear down to the point where you could no longer conceive of doing what you fear? Or allowed potential discomfort to paralyze you? I have. And it almost destroyed me. The pursuit of a pain-free life will do that to you.
Life is painful sometimes. My aunt Mary recently passed away from a two-year battle with cancer. Her last days were unimaginably painful. While we miss her tremendously, we all breathed a sigh of relief for her sake when she was taken home.
The world just lost a great person. Not really. This person was only a fictional character on the series Parks and Recreation, but the character Leslie Knope embodied what it meant to live with passion, lead with purpose, and leaving a legacy.
One of the few shows my wife and I watch is Parks and Recreation. If you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s based on a motley crew of small-town government workers in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana (which might just be the second best known town in the state).
One character stands out above them all: Leslie Knope. Not because of her words or any particular character trait, but because of her actions. Below are five reasons the world needs more Leslie Knopes.
The worst part of making excuses isn’t the missed opportunities. It isn’t the guilt you might feel afterwards for lying to yourself. It’s not the money they will cost you, the relationships they will end, or the broken dreams. The worst part of making excuses, the hidden danger, is that you eventually start to believe them.
The longer you make excuses, the more you actually start to believe them. The longer you tell any lie, the most likely it is that someday you will no longer tell it as a lie, but as the truth.
You no longer cringe when you realize that what you are saying is false. The conviction you once felt disappears. The lie becomes the truth. The excuse becomes reality.
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WARNING: Parts of this post have information of a graphic nature. Reader discretion advised. (Seriously, I wouldn’t let your younger kids read this).
How could this possibly be?
A single African tribe (the Kalenjin people) living in an area approximately the size of Massachusetts owns the running world. Seriously, check out these stats:
- 5 American high school runners ever have broken the 4:00 mile.
- One high school in the Kalenjin tribe had 4 breaking a 4:00 mile at the same time.
- 17 American men in history have run ever a marathon under 2:10:00.
- 32 Kalenjin men ran that fast in a single month recently.
How is it that this single tribe can dominate the world of running? And what does it mean for you?
First, let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, genetics plays a role. The Kalenjin people have evolved over time to a certain build that helps them run quickly. There is no denying that. They are considerably better suited to running long distances than yours truly. That’s a fact. (If you’re curious about the genetic differences, listen to the audio version of this post above)
But the real thing that allows them to do this…
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The world truly lost a legend yesterday.
Nelson Mandela was a champion of principle. He fought for what he believed in and left a legacy for the entire world.
Last night, as the news broke of Nelson Mandela’s death, I tweeted:
How is it that a man in his position could rise to worldwide prominence? How is it that hundreds of years from now, people will use the words “modern-day Nelson Mandela” to describe another man or woman? And how can we leave a legacy like he has?
Odds are that none of us will ever go through what Mandela went through in his life. He spent 27 years in prison, often in conditions so dreary and dark that it led to him developing a case of tuberculosis shortly before his release in 1990. And yet we can all learn six powerful traits from him.
And the winner of the Murphy’s Law Award goes to…
Those words began twenty-one years of negativity, self-doubt, and a victim mentality. And they came from my eighth grade social studies teacher.
It seemed funny at the time, but she awarded me the Murphy’s Law Award.
Other kids got “Hardest Worker,” “Most Creative,” or “Most Helpful to Others.” I got “Most Likely to Have Things Go Wrong.” Gee, thanks Mrs. So-and-So.
Life is painful sometimes.
My aunt Mary recently passed away from a two-year battle with cancer. Her last days were unimaginably painful. While we miss her tremendously, we all breathed a sigh of relief for her sake when she was taken home.
I’ve never experienced the kind of physical, emotional, or spiritual pain she went through. But I have been through pain. Because of the things I have done, risks I have taken, and people I have trusted. For the longest time, I had no clue what to do with it, but over time, I learned how to use pain.
Have you ever suffered from Mental Leprosy?
Have you ever pushed down pain to the point that you could no longer feel? Or pushed fear down to the point where you could no longer conceive of doing what you fear? Or allowed potential discomfort to paralyze you?
Here are three examples:
I’ve allowed my frustration (pain) with a team member who was constantly late to reach the point where I felt like I could do nothing, that I was stuck with him on the team. It reached the point where I forgot how frustrated I was. I no longer saw his faults. I no longer felt the pain. And my team suffered as a result.