There is an inherent vulnerability in setting big goals. Canadian marathoner, Rob Watson’s drive for the 2016 Canadian Olympic Team is a prime example of this. His performance at the London Marathon over the weekend left him short of reaching his goal which was to qualify for the Olympics.
Holding back tears, he responded to questions in a post-race interview — it struck me as brave. He could have walked off the course pouting, he could have dropped out at the 16K mark when he knew he was off pace, he could have done many things to avoid vulnerability, but he didn’t. He chose to step in and tell his story — no regrets, no pity party, just one runner who gave everything he had in pursuit of his dreams.
Whether striving for the Olympics or looking to run your first 5K, there comes a risk of failure. But with every failure comes a bit more resiliency. That’s an important attribute for any athlete. There’s no perfect path to the end goal. Bumps and bruises, literal and metaphorical, are sure to come along the way. It is our response that defines who we become, not the failures or successes in and of themselves.
If you grew up in the 90’s you are most likely familiar with the term “No Fear.” This company’s branding was all over shirts and all sorts of apparel back then. The notion of having no fear has somehow become considered to be a desirable attribute. However, having no fear really doesn’t require bravery. It’s having fear and then choosing not to allow your fear to stop you that is truly admirable.
I believe we’re all capable of looking past fear and reaching for our dreams — whatever they may be. I don’t say this flippantly. I have great respect for the discipline, patience and courage it takes to do so. This respect comes from experience.
Every week I sit down and I start writing this blog and every time I do so, I have to get past the worry of making myself vulnerable and I share my story. There are many weeks I’d rather not write a single word — whether it’s about an injury, a crappy training week, or a small goal that’s slipped out of sight as they so often do in this sport. However, I still write. I write because I believe I have something to share through my experience. We all do, if we are courageous enough to get past the risk.
For anyone out there who’s followed Rob Watson’s journey, you’ve been witness to the highs and lows of someone who allowed himself to be subject to vulnerability in effort to fulfill his dreams. He has been willing to share his successes and his failures publicly. The beautiful thing though is, if you watch Rob’s interview after London, you won’t see someone who has failed. His attitude, his honesty, his gratitude and his bravery speak to nothing but a successful athlete and person. And as he so rightly states: “I put it all out there to chase my dreams, and sometimes it doesn’t work out . . . I didn’t get the end product . . . but the journey has been so much to me, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world . . . I’m a runner, I’ll always be running — that’s what I do.”