June 16, 2014

The Things That No One Sees

I've been distance running since my senior year of college. I've participated in and watched many marathons over the last decade and it's incredible to watch the leaders start to come in, flying at 5-minutes per mile. Inevitably as they...

I’ve been distance running since my senior year of college. I’ve participated in and watched many marathons over the last decade and it’s incredible to watch the leaders start to come in, flying at 5-minutes per mile. Inevitably as they are coming in, I hear something from spectators around me pretty consistently. They whisper things like,

They were built to run.

Running just comes naturally to them.

They’re lucky running is easy for them.

What’s interesting is that I see the same thing with people winning with money and in life. Spectators, people observing from the outside of that person’s life, say things just like that…

Well, he just got lucky.

Well, she can do that because she has a ton of help.

Well, if I had their (job, money, time, situation…fill in the blank,) I could do that too.

But in both situations, the spectators miss it because they are judging a person’s success by only what they see at the finish line.

  • They didn’t see the 4:00 a.m. 16-mile runs before work that person logged that led to that finish line.
  • They didn’t witness the hundreds of lonely hours alone on the road that led to that finish line.
  • They didn’t consider the painful ice baths, exhausted muscles, and strict diet that led to that finish line.
  • They didn’t know about the late nights at the office, the overtime, the daily grind of pushing and persisting over years and years that eventually propelled that person to the top in their company.
  •  They didn’t think about the sacrifices made – the tuna sandwiches and Ramen noodles and hand-me-down-clothes and missed vacations – that led to that family becoming debt-free.
  •  They didn’t hear about all of the hard work and sweat and tears that that enabled that person to build wealth.

We glamorize the finish line but dismiss what it took to get there.

We think that success is a fluke or accident. We attribute it to the family they were born into or the lucky break at work. We ultimately attribute it to something outside of their control, and therefore outside of our control.

But ask anyone winning and they will tell you, it doesn’t happen by luck – not at the finish line, not in the marketplace and not in your bank account.

Winning happens in the miles logged, the hours dedicated, the sacrifices made, the money saved, the blood, sweat and tears poured out behind the scenes that no one ever sees. That’s where winning happens. The finish line is just the result.

“Champions don’t become champions in the ring – they are merely recognized there.”

It’s the small things, behind the scenes that no one sees, that leads to the BIG things that everyone wants.



Photo via lifechurch.tv



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  • Julianne says:

    Thank you for posting this. I’m a former art teacher, presently an art director and for almost two years now, a runner. Not marathons, either just 3 mile mornings daily and only one 5k under my belt. I even feel strange referring to myself as a runner because it sounds so serious.

    As an “artist” I have been sickened by people who have said “I wish I had that gift” about artistic ability and “I can’t even draw a stick figure” … It’s like a slap in the face to your degree and schooling. The countless hours of coloring, drawing and creating as a child that made me love art had nothing to do with becoming further educated and (gasp) learning new things. You can learn to create art. You can learn train to run. You don’t come out of he womb knowing how to balance a budget or sculpt a masterpiece. You must have a desire to so something and you also must nurture that desire. Make time for it. Learn the process. Train and do. Repeat. The masterpiece or finish line is the result of countless hours of work and numerous sacrifices.

    Thanks for this insightful article. I enjoyed it tremendously. 🙂

    • Hayley says:

      Art is a gift though, yes it takes a lot of work for most people and yes there is a great deal of education involved, but it is still a gift. There are many people who try just as hard and go through so much and still cannot create.

      It’s the same with running, in a way. You have to care, it has to be worth it to you. For some it’s just not. Like me. I walk for hours and hours, miles and miles, I will hike in a heart beat, but running is gross, exhausting, annoying and frustrating for me. There is no desire to do it, I don’t look at runners and think “I wish I could do that.” I look at them and think, “Yech! No, not for me. ”

      Now of course, discounting the work people do is not kind, or appropriate. But when someone calls your artistic talent a gift, I wouldn’t think that they are discounting your work and effort, but admiring something in you that do not have themselves.

  • Josephys Dafils says:

    I totally agree with your post. People do not see you when you are working hard. But, they see you when you are harvesting the fruits of hard work. I am putting work this morning.