Saturday, February 25, 2012
Finish Your Climb Well
He'd raced 498 of 500 laps and was nearing a victory in one of the biggest auto races in the world. But at the restart of the last two laps he was disqualified for switching lanes early. It was something he clearly knew the rules about but jumped early and it cost him the race.
He didn't finish well. And while the beginning and middle of a race or climb are important, completing the journey and doing it well are vital. In fact sometimes the ending is a life or death issue. Remember Dale Earnhardt at Daytona. He tragically died at the end of the race.
Sometimes climbers make the summit but die on the way down due to error, being tired, negligence or all of the above.
And in life we can spend years building a reputation and can lose it in a moment. We must finish well.
Sometimes when life throws a huge mountain of illness, family struggles and losses we can become mean, bitter, angry people instead of walking through and over our challenges with class, grace and hope. Don't go there. Whether it's getting through your chemo, finding a new job or repairing your marriage walk with integrity and strength.
So here are some tips on finishing strong. First, prepare well. Do your best early in the race, climb or your personal mountain and put yourself in position to have lots of energy, endurance and power at the end. Pace yourself, take your time, know your limits and save something for the finale.
Second, don't get overconfident. Being strong, assertive and bold are all wise and typically helpful but cocky climbers are often dead ones. Just because you've made it most of the way doesn't mean you should coast or take it easy.
Third, stay focused on the goal or finish line. David Ragan knew better but lost concentration and made a glaring error that I'm confident he will regret the rest of his life. While we need to rest and take breaks, we must keep reminding ourselves that the whole race, the entire ascent is important. Don't lose sight of the ultimate goal.
Finally, keep other strong people around you who will urge you onward. Race car drivers draft for each other, climbers belay and quarterbacks need their linemen. We're less likely to fail at the end if we have a team who will work together to get there. Team members also hold us accountable and keep us sharp so we don't have a last minute lapse that can cost us everything.
So, wherever you are on your journey, commit now to finish strong. There will no doubt be people, events and circumstances that you can't control but you can determine how you'll respond to those challenges. Start well, stay balanced, remain focused and count on your team.
And never quit climbing.