I have been studying the lives of Great people these past few months (I’m talking about folks from Benjamin Franklin to Leonardo Da Vince to Mother Theresa) and have found that all of these people have some common characteristics. They were all gifted, and as they magnified the gifts they either had been blessed with or were developing, their lives became a gift to the human race; they made their mark. They changed the world.
In all of the Great Lives I have studied and isolated the traits I want to emulate; let me focus on one-Finishing! The great lives I have studied had certain virtues and principles that, when practiced diligently, became the fabric of their souls. These folks never quit trying; they were finishers!
While studying and learning from these Great Lives, I attended my grandsons swimming competition. This was his first race and, he being a very fast and athletic type, I anticipated a great result for him. The whistle sounded, and you could hear the sound of a flat flop on the water that seven year olds make when diving in. It hurt to hear, let alone watch! My grandson and one other young boy took the lead and were neck and neck. They were doing the back stroke, and swimming the entire length of an Olympic size pool. About half way through the race, as I was rooting wildly for my grandson, I noticed he was starting to veer off course. He must have been getting fatigued on one side, or maybe he was simply exhausted and becoming delirious. With each stroke, he was turning more off line, and about 3/4 of the way, was clearly now swimming in the wrong direction. Should grandpa dive into the pool and save him? I was really worried that the little guy was going to have a heart attack or something. The crowd stood on its feet and watched with support as he kept swimming- in a circle; but each circle brought him closer to the finish line. The rest of the heat had finished. I could see that my grandson was starting to gasp and cry-his face flushed bright red with exhaustion. He hit the side of the pool, and noticing he was way off course, corrected himself and chugged toward the finish line. He never stopped pumping his arms, flailing now without much direction or form, but churning and chugging and gasping none-the-less.
When he touched the finish line, the crowd cheered enthusiastically, his Mom helped him out of the pool. He came over to grandpa (me) and I gave him a hug and told him how proud I was of him. “Grandson, I said, I’m sooooo proud of you. Great job! You are a Finisher.”
Nothing I have seen or read in my life has taught me more about finishing than this little boy who wore himself out, never quit, and finished dead last. He’s a winner. The point is, it doesn’t matter if we win every race. It matters only that we strive to do our best, and be committed to finish what we started. We may feel like we are going in circles. We may be so exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally that we want to quit. We may feel less than adequate. But if we keep swimming, keep moving, stay committed to our objective; we will have become more than we were. In all worth-while pursuits, in all the great lives we see or read about, we see that the persistent daily plodding toward the established goals, create finishers. Finishers are wanted!