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Leadership & Wisdom, Keys for Today – Obstacles & Deterrents

What lies before you & what lies behind you should be of little concern to what lies within you” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most obstacles take our focus off of the goal, the commitment at hand, because we are thinking about it, rather than the objective at hand. Stay dedicated, and you will see the positive results.

A true and amazing story is quite illuminating of these axioms. On November 4th, 1978, a fellow named Dennis Rainear entered a race, the Grand Valley Marathon, in Allendale, Michigan. He had been training for this race for months. Dennis had a specific goal in mind when he began the race. He never wavered from that goal. His objective was to run this particular race in under three hours so he could qualify for the Boston Marathon, his life-long goal as a runner. Short of the Olympics, the Boston Marathon is the ultimate challenge in long-distance running.

Now that’s the beginning of the story. The rest is that Dennis Rainear ran his second fastest marathon time ever, three hours and nine minutes, and yet he … failed. Boston Marathon officials are very strict about the three hour qualifying time, but for the first time in history, they made an exception for our friend, Dennis Rainear.  Why they waived the qualifying time for him makes up the middle of the story.  For that we have to go back to that cold November day and study the race itself.

Nothing very eventful occurred during the first nine miles. Dennis was pacing himself well. He felt good and was confident about breaking the three-hour mark for the first time in his life.  At the ten mile checkpoint however, an object flew out of the crowd and struck him in the head as he was turning a corner.  At first he assumed he had been hit with a brick. It made him mad and he looked around to see who had thrown it. Remarkably, he barely broke stride.  After a few more miles though, his head began to ache.  He became wobbly, and his eyes kept losing focus. Angered over his lack of control, Dennis repeatedly shook off the pain, shook off the grogginess and re-established his pace.

As I said, he ran the entire twenty-six mile race in three hours and nine minutes, his second fastest time ever. He came up short of his goal. When Dennis learned that he had failed to qualify for the Boston Marathon, he was shattered. He went for a walk to get his attitude back. He kept telling himself there would be other races, other chances, other years to qualify.

In just a short while though, the pain in his head had gotten the better of him. He went to a doctor to have it checked out. The physician discovered that Dennis had run the last sixteen miles of the race with a bullet lodged in his head, a 22 caliber rifle bullet to be exact. A bullet powerful enough to kill the average person! Yet on this occasion it was merely a deterrent, merely strong enough to keep Dennis from running the fastest race of his life – but just barely!

Isn’t it amazing what the mind can accomplish when it is focused, dedicated, and disciplined? When you set your mind on one specific goal at a time, realizing your destiny hangs in the balance, amazing things can happen.

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice” John Locke