The secret to motivating yourself
All I knew was that he had slowed down a bit and was popping Aspirin like candy.
I wouldn’t find out why until later. I was just glad he had slowed down.
It was all I could do to put one foot in front of another.
“How many miles did you say it will end up being?” I asked.
“About sixty,” he answered.
We slogged on, my eyes looking down at the road in front of me. The sun was rising now, and with it, the heat. I took my jacket off and tied it around my waist.
“I don’t think I can make it,” I said numbly.
“You can make it,” he encouraged me. “Only ten more miles to Grandma’s house.”
I noticed that he had developed a limp, but I was too absorbed in my own pain, fatigue, and hunger to wonder much about it. I desperately ached to lie down and sleep.
We had left just the morning previous, and had hiked all day and through most of the night. We had stopped at about two a.m. to sleep for just a couple of hours, laying on the ground in front of a roaring bonfire he had built from a fallen tree.
We had arisen at about four a.m. and hiked off the mountain in the dark, with no flashlights.
I turned around and looked back at the mountain we had come from. I yearned for the ordeal to be over.
I turned back around and continued following him, one step at a time. We trudged up the steps of Grandma’s porch at about ten a.m.
We had traveled sixty miles in twenty-four hours.
I promptly found a place to lie down and slept like a baby until the next morning.
It wasn’t until I woke up that I heard why he’d been popping Aspirin the last ten miles: he had pulled his groin and had been in agonizing pain. He had never said a word about it to me.
That was in 1992, when I was sixteen years old. My oldest brother, Jim, and I were a team on our family’s annual race through the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern Oregon.
I never would have made it without him.
I think of all the people in my life without whom I would never make it. Like big brothers, they are the rocks I can trust my life with, the ones who eliminate my fear in the dark, who coach me through the pain of my ordeals, who bear unseen burdens for my benefit.
And then I think of all the people who need me to be what my big brother has been to me.
You, too, have people who look up to you, who depend on you, who need you to be strong.
They are watching your race from the stands, taking notes on what it takes to win.
In the midst of your ordeals, in your darkest hours, when you’ve gone as far as you think you can go, when your body is screaming in pain and your emotions are completely drained, when you are at your weakest point and temptation is almost overwhelming, lift your eyes to the stands and focus on them.
Do it for them.
You may not have what it takes alone. But for them, you can dredge up deep resources from within — resources you never knew you had.
They desperately need you to cross the finish line. Because if you don’t cross yours, they won’t cross theirs.
The secret to motivating yourself is to stop focusing on yourself and instead, focus on the people who look to you for strength, courage, and guidance.