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“Adversity does not build character; adversity reveals character.” – unknown
This quote about adversity may very well be true when spoken of an isolated incident. However, what if you could create a setting in which you consistently create adversity and hone your abilities to overcome? Would you not, in fact, move from just “discovering yourself” to actually being able to improve yourself?
It would seem that running should provide just such a program of self-realization and development. As a runner, you are constantly dealing with all kinds of adversity:
- The daily challenge of getting out the door amid all your other commitments.
- Those intimidating workouts that cause you to lose sleep out of fear of what you are about to face.
- The adverse weather conditions that throw a wrench into your best-laid plans.
- The nagging injury that can force, at the minimum, a short-term adjustment to your schedule and, at worst, a long-term layoff and reconsideration of your goals.
- The races into which you put hundreds of hours of training, only to be subject to the vagaries of traffic, illness, weather, or any other number of potential hurdles.
Just think of the myriad virtues that a consistent “career” of running – of overcoming the hurdles that you (or circumstances) set time after time – can provide:
- Stamina – running gives us the energy to deliver on our commitments day in and day out, week after week.
- Confidence – running provides a perfect environment to set, work towards, and achieve goals, and learn how to motivate ourselves to do the same thing in our other commitments.
- Perseverance – running yields plenty of opportunities to make excuses, from a slight lack of motivation to an injury, and therefore the chance to build our discipline by working through these challenges.
- Willpower and focus – running gives the daily time to work on our ability to be mindful, to set to a task and maintain the presence to execute it faithfully.
- Patience – running offers the ongoing lesson that achieving our best requires years of dedicated practice, and makes us recognize that instant gratification is always more shallow than achieving something for which we have worked hard.
- Humility – running reminds us of our limitations, often right when we need it most, in a manner that usually provides only a temporary inconvenience.
Running is a laboratory in which we are free to experiment and push our limits, with little risk of any “failure” having long-term consequences. It provides the opportunity to pursue infinitely scaleable ambitions, that can ebb and flow as your fluctuating time and capabilities allow. You are your own limitation – there is no one but yourself to blame for shortcomings or credit for successes.
Runners make better employees, better parents, better spouses, better friends, and better leaders. Through developing the ability to independently challenge ourselves and figure out how to reach through conflicts and hurdles to reach our goals, aren’t we in fact creating a virtuous cycle of self-discovery and growth that makes us better able to succeed in life?
Perhaps this increased bit of self-awareness about how running is subtly working to make you a broader person will provide that extra bit of motivation to get out each day and stretch towards your dreams. So go out and create your own adversity today. And then take satisfaction in overcoming it.