In the summer of 2008 Jamaica’s Usain Bolt ran the 100 meters race in 9.69 seconds at the Beijing Olympic Games. Following Usain Bolt’s record-breaking run, the world has been fascinated by the speed of many Jamaicans, a country which over the years has produced some of the world’s greatest athletes. Committed to securing the claim as one of the top athletes among the greats that Jamaica had produced I decided it was my time to run the 100 meters race. Therefore, in 2011 after 1 day of intensive training which included brisk walking, and few short jogs, I decided I was ready to attempt what would be considered one of the greatest challenges of my athletic career. The evening was fairly cool and I walked onto the track and gazed briefly at the 5, 000 people capacity stadium, which ironically was empty. I took my place in the starting block and had a friend get his stopwatch ready to time what was going to be a record-breaking feat. “On your mark,” I kneeled to the ground, “get set,” my heart began to race as I anticipated what awaited me at the finish line, “GO!” I took off running in what I imagined was blistering speed. I thought about all I had done to prepare, and how crossing the finishing line would see me secure my place in the history of record-breaking sprinters. As I crossed the finish line, my speed decreased significantly and I eased into a victory jog turning to look at my friend running towards me with his stopwatch in hand. “What’s my time?” I yelled, and he responded in laughter. Puzzled by his response I again asked, in a more reserved manner, “what was my finishing time?” “You ran the 100 meter in a time of 22.7 seconds!” My heart immediately sank as I tried to ascertain how my blistering speed could have been clocked so incorrectly. “Your watch is wrong; there is no way I only did it in 22.7 seconds, it has to be less.” Unfortunately, the time turned out to indeed be correct.
A few days after my disappointing finish, I decided it was time to attempt the race again, after greater preparation. Each day for the previous three days I went running at the university gym and did a few strength training exercises. It was not long before I became convinced that I could lower my time with all this training I had. Armed with a new sense of confidence I attempted the feat once more and to the delight of friends who came to witness me run, I lowered my time to a whopping 22.2 seconds. Needless to say I was not about to have my name written in the record books. It appears that whatever gift Jamaicans supposedly have, skipped my gene pool.
Disappointed by my failure to have a faster time, I called my dad to tell him about my exploits. My dad answered the phone with the sentence “hello the greatest son in the world!” It is his common greeting to me whenever I call. “Dad I ran the 100 meter race a few days ago and clocked 22.7 seconds;” “that’s good,” he replied, listening intently to what else I had to say, “and today, after two days of training I decided to do it again and lowered my time to just 22.2 seconds,” “that’s great! Keep up the good work.” I was shocked by his response and issued a rebuttal, “dad, don’t be condescending, I only lowered my time by .5 seconds, and who runs the 100 meters in over 22 seconds, that is no accomplishment, Usain Bolt did it in under 10!” My dad without hesitation, “You are not Usain Bolt, you are Dimitri, and for you to run 22.7 seconds, and two days lower it by .5 seconds, that makes you a winner in my book.”
Immediately after my dad brought me back to reality I discovered something profound. I discovered that over the last few days I spent time not trying to run a race, but trying to become like Usain Bolt. I used 9.69 seconds as the gold standard for the 100 meters race, why? Because it was the record-breaking time set by Mr. Bolt. What my dad taught me in that moment was the fact that I may never be a Usain Bolt, and that’s okay. My running the 100 meters race in 22.7 seconds demonstrated my ability to run. It demonstrated my best effort at the moment. In fact the two days I spent training after my first race, and then ultimately lowering my time to 22.2 seconds, was an overwhelming accomplishment. You see, my best, is not someone else’s best. Usain Bolt running the 100 meters in 9.69 seconds may not be his best time ever. It may be his best time to date, but with training he may have the ability to lower that record further. Perhaps on his best day, and in the greatest health, Usain Bolt may only be able to go as low as 9.60 seconds, and he deserves the right to attempt that feat. Likewise, I deserve the right to do and perform at my best. The reality is that my best may get me no lower than 20 seconds flat, and I must be content with that.
Many times in our lives we turn our focus on the accomplishment of others, we look at what there is to celebrate in someone else’s life while we ignore our own. We never give ourselves the credit we deserve. It is no surprise that this world is made up of so many people feeling depressed, and lacking self-worth, because so many of us think of ourselves as less than worthy. We are each unique, and every struggle we each face is our own to overcome. Whatever you must confront in life, confront it knowing that you are well equipped to overcome it. Celebrate your failures, celebrate your accomplishments, and give yourself every credit you deserve. Be the best that you can be, don’t try to be anyone else. You were created to fulfill a role in this world that no other human will ever be able to fulfill but you. So smile because there is only one you, and without you this world would not be the same.
© Dimitri Lyon and dimitrilyon.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dimitri Lyon and dimitrilyon.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.