There was a time when I believed that "winning" was everything. I was as ignorant as Ricky Bobby; "If you ain't first you're last".
Years ago I raced bikes. You know the kind of bikes ridden by the Tour de France guys. I was competitive and did well enough to qualify for the Arizona State Championship race held in downtown Phoenix. On race day the downtown area was completely shut down and packed with spectators as we raced the winding city streets. It was amazing. With one lap to go I was perfectly positioned to win, the result of countless hours of training and racing was about to pay off. At the final corner I made a mistake, lost too much ground, and couldn't make up the difference with 100 yards to go. I lost a race I knew I could win. For weeks I couldn't sleep, tormented by my failure.
A few weeks later my wife (my perfect companion who has helped me through countless losses) said something that helped create sincere reflection. She asked "Why do you do what you do?" When I struggled to find an answer she said, "If you do it to win you'll never find happiness. You need to train and race for love of the sport. If you learn that you will find the personal fulfillment that you're searching for." That little seed she planted has permeated all aspects of my life. It started a positive change in me that continues to guide me in every day decisions. I have come to realize that the fulfillment of my personal goals is far more gratifying than winning a prize or being first. Winning boosts the ego, fulfillment of personal goals brings inner satisfaction. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon carried as much satisfaction for me than any race I had ever previously won. Finishing Ironman this year was the pinnacle achievement in all my racing history (and I finished 252nd, nowhere near the top).
I spend a lot of time working with individuals one-on-one, helping friends and clients set and work towards achieving personal goals. My experience with these individuals has been similar to my experience in sport. Those who are able to find their true selves, who set goals based on what they personally want to accomplish, are able to find more joy, more inner peace, and greater happiness in life than those who want to win for recognition.
2015 has been a great year so far. Many of you have accomplished goals you never thought were possible. Others are having great success but still find themselves behind others in the "rankings". My wish for you today is that you'll find satisfaction in knowing that you've given it all, you've accomplished greatness in so many ways, and that you won't beat yourself up over the fact that someone else ranks higher than you. Someone will always do more. Who cares. Focus on what you want to achieve and find joy in knowing that you have accomplished something far more satisfying. You are giving it your all and therefore have already achieved greatness. If you're behind in your goals don't despair. We have 5 months left in the year with many more months and years to go.
Fulfill your dreams, don't give up. Find personal fulfillment in knowing that you are giving it your very best.