Saturday, June 8, 2013

"Ready, steady, go..."

"Sergeant Hulka: Soldier, I've noticed that you're always last.
John Winger: I'm pacing myself, Sergeant." -Stripes

      People with a fierce competitive drive appear to have an extra edge in life. They seem to possess that elusive inner spark or divine force propelling them to win.  It's an admirable trait I lack. My non competitive spirit is made even more apparent as I watch highly motivated runners sprint right past me during a race.
      When I worked in customer service, management teams tried to create competition between consultants with smack talk. "Hey, Lisa. Rey said he helps more customers in thirty minutes than you can in eight hours. More calls, more customers, more money." "Oh, that's awesome. Tell him I  said congratulations on his success and don't forget, Friday is Hawaiian Shirt Day" This slightly sarcastic compliment would inevitably frustrate managers who were trying to analyze  your psychological weaknesses. They wanted to discover your motivations so they could break you down, remold your psyche, transform you into the ambitious goal oriented associate that made them appear more successful. Being non competitive can be frustrating  for others. "Increase sales or you may be looking for a new job" is a phrase that has "inspired" few.  When we evaluate our own motives and look deep inside we know what allows us to be successful. The  majority are motivated by money, others fame, power or competition. This is the fuel which drives business and industry across the globe, the movers and the shakers. We are all driven to pursue our passions. We are driven to pursue our own passions.
      My motivation for participating in this mornings  5k race was to pet dogs. Honestly, it was to raise money for spaying and neutering programs, a park and it featured a canine expo. My registration number should have inspired me to "go fast" since it was "88" or Dale Earnhardt Juniors National Guard Chevrolet race car number. But the Run, Walk and Wag 5k was over flowing with many pleasurable sensory distractions.  Besides creating awareness for spaying and neutering the race also raised funds for a beautiful park with a gorgeous cross country trail.  However, after several days of rain in our area the course was rather slick and muddy. Hiking up my dirt splattered running sweats I splashed in pools of murky rain water. As a kid that is a major treat but somehow loses its appeal as an adult with a time limit. At one point I had to laugh at myself for tip toeing through the treacherous terrain like a spoiled prancing princess. Where was my chivalrous prince charming to lay down his royal cloak so a fair maiden could cross the puddle? All the focused runners were trampling unfazed through the cool morning air of forest foliage. The pack began to stride ahead of me as I struggled not to lose balance or fall in the mud. Soon all the runners were lost in the distance out of sight.
     Alone with my ipod charged I was listening to Foster the People's "Call It What You Want" happily half jogging, half dancing along a slick slippery trail. Was that a snake? Are there bears in this area? What if someone jumps out at me from behind a tree like a Ninja? Where is the water stand? Surely, it's been more than four miles by now. Maybe I should buy a watch. What a fabulous view and no camera!. What if a tick attaches to my ankle and I get Lyme disease? Look at that gorgeous Golden Retriever, how can I not stop and pet him? Where is the finish line? Oh look, a Labrador! Let me pet you too. Maybe I should stop at the restroom. Hello, may I pet your dog? Hey, that guy is hot! Finish line.
 This was not my best race record time. It was a really fun, enjoyable way to spend little over an hour and raise money and awareness for a great cause I believe in. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves our journey is always more important than our destination.