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Keep Your Eyes on the Gold

I’m definitely not a sports fan. It’s just never been an interest of mine. However, every once in awhile some great sports moment touches me and I glean definite purpose from it.

By now, many of you will have watched the 2012 London Olympics and watched, or heard of, Stephen Kiprotich. Seemingly against all odds, Kiprotich goes for gold, conquers the odds, and gets Uganda’s first gold in 40 years in the marathon. Stephen definitely was not the favored runner, not expected to win, but he overcame the odds!

As I rose to my feet to watch the final moments of the marathon and watched as Stephen Kiprotich pulled ahead and left the others well behind, I began to cheer him on!

I stood and coached him on: “Don’t look back” … “Just keep your eyes on your goal” … “Do your best” … “Don’t worry about the others” … “Just keep going; keep your eyes on your goal!”

Now, I don’t pretend for a moment that my cheering and coaching helped Stephen Kiprotich, but Stephen Kiprotich helped me.

You see, no matter how good a thing is, no matter how well it’s going, there will be times when things go wrong or become challenging. When these things arise, and it seems like the odds are stacked against us, it becomes easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves, and question ourselves, and wonder if it’s all worth it. This is where I’ve been for the past month or two in my primary business.

Over all, it is going well, very well; we surpassed our 2011 team sales goal during the first half of 2012. I qualified for a great free trip to a luxury resort and spa next spring. We’ve developed three new managers on our team over the past year, and our sales over the past twelve months are higher than ever. Yet I’ve allowed personalities to get in the way of principles; I should know better!

You see, August 1st also marked a personal milestone. Aug 1st is my sobriety date—this year marking 18 years without a drop! Having attended many 12-Step meetings, I know how important it is to maintain principles before personalities. Personalities come and go, often clash, and may not always see eye-to-eye, but by maintaining our principles, we will continue to grow, develop, and eventually win, one day at a time!

Knowing the odds were stacked against him, Stephen Kiprotich continued to train daily, maintained his principled regimen, and pressed on against the odds to eventually win gold in an area in which no countryman had won in over 40 years!

What would have happened if Stephen Kiprotich had given up when he first had his dream? What if he had focused on the odds that were stacked against him? It took Stephen Kiprotich just over two hours to run the marathon and take the gold—an unbelievable dream come true! What would have happened if Stephen had of listened to the commentators who expected the gold to go to the Kenyan runners? What would have happened if Stephen had let up just a little halfway through? After all, the favored Kenyans were holding strong right up till the last four kilometers, and Stephen knew the odds were against him. What if he had of given up or slowed his pace?!

Of course we all know the answer; most likely Stephen would have given up just short of his goal. He may never have tasted success!

Yet, despite all of this, despite all the reasons to give up, to believe others were better, or more favored, or had more chance of success, Stephen Kiprotich pressed on. He maintained his principles and ran to the best of his ability, despite the odds, which led him to victory. And as he shouldered his country’s flag and knelt at the finish line, victory was his and the smile on his face said it all…

Well done, Stephen Kiprotich, and thank you for setting the an example for me, along with all those waiting and watching on the sidelines, and reminding me that it’s time to get back in the game—to press on against all odds and maintain principles before personalities. For these are the things that lead to victory!

Stephen Kiprotich, I thank you for the example you’ve set and the inspiration you’ve given to me, and to each of us, to press on and to keep my eyes on the gold!

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