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By: Jamie Collins
One day earlier in the week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Timothy Bass, a motivational speaker and successful life coach in the Indianapolis area. They always say if you really need something in your life, it will find its way to you. I met Tim at a pivotal time in my life about 6 months ago, when I was introduced to him through people we know in common at the firm. It was a time when a “career coach” is precisely what I needed. I had a lot of great ideas, but found myself standing in the middle of the virtual roadway of life, unsure what to do next. Over time and through a multitude of conversations, Tim became aware of my professional endeavors, read some of my inspirational pieces, and quickly became a world class encourager in my life. The fact that this truly inspiring man helps me in a gratuitous fashion is nothing short of sensational.
Today, I’m here to share an inspiring story.
On this particular occasion, Tim was standing in my office, beside the window next to my desk, as we began to chat. We were talking about life, in general, when the conversation suddenly shifted to the topic of my “next” professional endeavor. He asked, “What are you working on now?” At this point, I found myself stuck between a few big ideas, unsure where to center my focus and direct my energy. In response, I heard the words “Well, I have to admit I’ve been procrastinating…” exit my mouth, followed by a few sentences to acknowledge I felt like I was floundering along and not blazing my way down my next intended path, whatever it was.
It was one of those fun moments in life when you hear yourself own up to your own lack of progress and down to your own snuffed ambition, which is actually far more difficult than the part where you are actually articulating it verbally to another human being. The type of audible realization that chisels away at your soul, long after the words taper off and become cloaked by silence.
It was in that moment that Tim turned to me and shared what is, perhaps, some of the best advice I’ve ever received from another human being in a minute and a half. He told me a story about a friend of his who is a runner. Here is the gist of it:
One day, this guy was attempting to run up the side of a big mountain. Imagine in your mind the type of mountain with a long, paved, winding road that goes on and on, round and round, until you get to the top. The guy kept running, and running, and running. He felt like he had been running forever. Step, after step. Labored breath, after labored breath. He had a deep, intense aching in his side. His legs were throbbing. He felt as though he would never make it to the top. He was tired. The top of the mountain seemed so far away. There was no end in sight. His feet continued to strike the pavement, one after the other, his body becoming more weary with each heavy step. He reached a point where he didn’t think he could make it to the goal. It was too far. He was too tired. He was never going to make it.
But right at that moment, he passed another runner; a guy who was making his way back down the mountain. What this runner said to him changed his outlook drastically. As the two runners passed one another in the roadway, the descending runner looked over to him with a big grin, and in an excited tone exclaimed, “You don’t know how close you are!”
This energized the guy. What had seemed just moments prior to be a million miles away now seemed closer than ever. He knew he could do it. He had made it so far already. He was nearly there. No way was he going to quit now. He was so close. So he kept running, and running – his feet repeatedly striking the sun drenched pavement until ultimately, he reached the top.
At this point, Tim’s words trail off into the silence. Just as the last word falls from his lips, he looks me dead in the eyes and confidently states, “YOU ARE that runner. You have no idea how close you are.” His gaze was long and intentional. It was as though he was piercing my soul with his words. He continued on, “You’ve come so far. I know you’re almost there. I can see it. I know you’re on the verge of something great. I know you’re almost where you want to be – there’s no way you can quit now. You just need to realize how close you are, stay focused, and keep running. This is your season. It’s your year. I truly believe that. Big things are in store for you. You just have to keep going.”
In that moment, something happened.
I was no longer tired. I was no longer confused. I immediately realized how close I was. I grasped how much work I had put in to get to where I now stood. I realized how tired or confused I felt didn’t matter. I had come too far to turn away from my own potential now. I was going to keep pushing forward. I knew I could make it. Although I was wearing ballet flats (not tennis shoes) and was sitting in my office (nowhere near a mountain), it was as though I was looking back over all I had managed to accomplish to date. I HAD come too far to turn back now. No way. I was gonna lace up those career shoes and run harder. And run faster. I could do it. I would.
With one simple story, Tim had infused the air in my office with an uplifting current of possibility and potential that flowed into me. I felt accomplished and proud. I felt happy and capable. I felt like running, although I was tired and confused just moments prior.
A few minutes later, Tim departed my office. But his message remained. I guess that’s what career coaches, respected colleagues, trusted advisors, and good mentors do – they remind us who we are. They remind us who we intend to be. They make us recall where we’ve been so far, and where we’re headed. They keep us running, even when we’re tired. Even when we’re confused. Even when we’re unsure how we’ll make the journey. They keep us running even when we completely lose sight of why we began to run in the first place. They keep our eyes focused on the goal, rather than the obstacles. They keep us moving forward, making our way toward victory. And somehow, some way, they keep us running, until eventually, we make our way to the goal – be it to the top of a mountain or our next “big” thing, whatever it may be.
Whether we’re the person running up the side of a mountain or the accomplished individual making our back down the other side of it, encouraging the next runner on our path, we must remain in the race. It’s ours to win. It always was. It always will be – if only we have the courage to keep running.
So lace up those running shoes a little tighter, look back to see how far you’ve come, and keep running – “You have no idea how close you are!”
“Nobody ever talks about the pyramids that weren’t built, the books that weren’t written, the songs that weren’t sung. Stop letting your fear condemn you to mediocrity. Get out of your own way. Your dreams are a poetic reflection of your soul’s wishes. Be courageous enough to follow them. There is no greater time than now to experience the full power of your potential. Make this the day you take the first step in the beautiful journey of bringing your dreams to life.” – Steve Maraboli
A special thank you to Tim Bass for being an incredibly awesome human being, and for not only taking the time to get to know me, but encouraging me to work toward my next “big” thing, whatever it may be. I plan to run the next lap wearing heels and a big smile. After all, I’m too close to quit now…
I’ll see you on the mountain.