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Run Your Own Race
By Sue Augustine

Published in Beyond Ordinary Living


 Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do.
  William Faulkner

Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done, and won’t need to compare himself with someone else.
Galatians 6:4

My husband, Cliff, has an interesting hobby: drag racing. For those who are not familiar with it, that’s where two cars race each other side by side down a quarter-mile track. The cars reach exceptionally high speeds in a matter of mere seconds, which means both drivers must stay incredibly focused.

Although I don’t know a lot about the dynamics of racing and, truthfully, it’s not one of my favourite ways to spend a beautiful, summer weekend, I do try to support him by attending his races whenever I can.

One time, after watching a remarkably close race, I asked Cliff how it was possible to stay focused while driving at such high speeds, especially when he could see that the other driver was gaining on him, perhaps even about to overtake him. His reply has stayed with me, acting as powerful reminder of the race of life in which we are all engaged: “When I race, I don’t think too much about the other guy. Instead, I pre-determine how fast I want to go and how quickly I want to get to the finish line, all the while concentrating on how my own car is performing. Then, I simply run my own race.” What a great concept for each of us to use as we set goals and live out our plans to achieve our dreams.

Really, what Cliff is saying is that if he is going to compete with anyone, it’s himself. Rather than trying to be better than our colleagues or those who have gone before us, we should each strive to surpass our own selves. Instead of spending useless energy and precious time analyzing how others do things and where they stand with their personal dreams and plans, we should concentrate on improving our performance with our own goals and targets. Running our own race eliminates the comparison trap. 

Keeping up with the Joneses” actually hinders us from running our own best race. Today’s media plays a significant role in convincing us that, unless we drive a specific vehicle, travel to exotic vacation spots, dress a certain way, or wear a particular fragrance, we must be missing out on the best that life has to offer. It’s no wonder we are tempted to compare ourselves and what’s happening in our lives with others.

I have a small sign in my office that reads: Comparison equals depression! Comparing ourselves with others sets us up to feel like a failure, partly because we often compare the least successful part of our lives or our very worst traits and characteristics with the best in someone else. It’s not surprising that we’re left feeling inadequate and unsure of our ability to attain our dreams.

The solution is to determine clearly where we are headed, examine our own gifts and callings, and then stay focused on that target. By redefining what success means to us personally, our own race becomes more important to us than outwitting or outrunning others. It means never having to look over our shoulders to see if someone is gaining on us…a good way to stay out of trouble and maximize our personal performance!



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