Last Saturday in Charlotte, NC I had the opportunity to participate in the world's largest obstacle race series, Warrior Dash. It's a 5K Mud Run littered with 12 obstacles such as barb wire, trenches, abandon cars, live fire, giant walls and the infamous mud mayhem pit. Why 1,000s of people willing choose to attempt such a death trap remains a mystery.
(Click here to see more pics of agony)
I choose to attempt it because I was due for an adventure and to push my body. Despite finishing and placing in a humbling #2,395 out of 6,991 runners (pretty sure half of my time was spent squirming in the mud pit), I was proud of my performance and how my Colorado instincts immediately kicked back in upon any climbing or trail running.
At the beginning of the race, the trail bends and runs parallel to the trail of those approaching the finish line. This is where the novice runners size-up the damage of the veteran runners that have gone before them. Upon seeing the novices, some veterans felt compelled to taunt, some to encourage, and others were completely focused on just finishing safely.
40 minutes later I was approaching the clearing that would qualify me as a "veteran" and put me next to the fresh legs and wide-eyed new wave of novice runners. I breached the woods and there they were, so full of hope, enthusiasm, and energy. Unscathed, no mud, no sweat, no bitterness towards the race that was about to chew them up. Jealous and annoyed at their optimism, the veterans feel compelled to give them "a dose of reality to better prepare them" for the race.
I think this is how many perceive younger generations. It's easy to dismiss those naive novice runners of the race of life because they haven't experienced everything that the versed veterans have. So often we feel as though we have all the answers because we've "run the race"…but wouldn't you agree the race has changed?
The big difference between the Warrior Dash and real life is that everyone's race is different. In life we don't experience the same set of obstacles as those before us. And if the obstacles are different, then the learning and growth that comes from triumphing over those obstacles will be different. Today's reality is that the traditional paths to learning and mastery have forever changed. Technology and the Internet have changed the trajectory of careers and work. Everyone racing in life can no longer rely heavily on their knowledge of the past since new trails are being forged everyday that will forever change the thinking pattern and innate skills of those traveling on them.
As I broke through the woods and saw the novice runners that day, a wave of excitement came over me for 2 reasons. 1) The sight of the novice runners served as a benchmark for how far I've come in my journey. 2) I was excited FOR them and what lay ahead of them on their new and unique journey. It's a lot easier to look back at those running behind you with great hope and excitement if you yourself have run the race of life regret free and are focused on finishing well. The greatest gift experience brings is influence. Use it wisely to coach and encourage so that those who come behind us can stand on our shoulders and reach higher than anyone before us.
Question: What race of life phase are you in and how are you leveraging your influence?