This is part three in a series reflecting on life lessons learned through my running journey. To read the other two posts click on the following links, The Laggard Lesson and You Have to Start Somewhere.
They say life experiences shape who you are. There is one particular instance in my running journey that really stands out as one of those experiences. It deals with recognizing your commitments and following through.
A new event was rolled out my high school junior year track season, the 4x800 relay. A four person relay team with each member running 800 meters (half mile). We had a strong distance running team which I was a part of. In cross country, we won conference, sections, and regionals three years in a row. The main meet for the track season was the Bomber Boiler Relays at Purdue University. High schools from all across Indiana come to the multi-day event to compete. It provided a window into where the school team ranked in the state and a reliable predictor of how the state meet would play out. Each track event had several qualifying heats and then the finals. During qualifications our 4x800 team qualified for the finals! In my three years on the track team, I don’t recall an individual or team relay qualifying for the finals. This was a huge deal since it meant we were state meet contenders. So, the day the finals were being held, I decided to skip school and went fishing with a few friends thinking I could be back before school ended to catch the bus to finals (like nothing happened). In the middle of the lake, my friend noticed the time and said we needed to leave now so I could catch the bus. “Nah,” I said. “Let’s keep fishing.” I blew off my track team and never attempted to catch the bus. Needless to say the relay team did not perform well that evening.
One evening weeks later my family pulled into the driveway after having a dinner out. All the front yard trees were covered in toilet paper. A toilet sat in the middle of the yard filled with.. Yup, you guessed it. Then to top it off, there was a dead pig thrown on the roof of the house. The yard was trashed. The message was clear. I let my team down. I took away the opportunity away from them to prove themselves and to prove the team.
When you decide to become part of a team you signal a commitment to the team. Everyone is counting on each other. That is how the team succeeds, together. You don’t abandon your team. In life, you honor your commitments. Someone is on the other end of that commitment counting on you. From that turning point, I live up to my commitments and what I say.