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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On Running Your Own Race

Now I am an avid runner, and I rarely take a day off, regardless of conditions. Nevertheless, this post is not about actual running since that topic is incredibly important to me and will be one of my larger posts in the future.

When I say "Run your own race," I mean to be in a competition with yourself. By competing against yourself, you are proving your capabilities to no one but your individual being. You can be your harshest critic, but you can also be the most forgiving one. Instead of keeping track of others and trying to outdo what your peers do, focus on yourself and see how you can outdo you (I know it's improper grammar but it sounds cooler that way). You know yourself best, so you will be able to find what needs improvement more quickly than waiting on someone to tell you. That's not to say that peer review is something to ignore, but if you have a good self-awareness and can swallow pride, you will be able to acknowledge what aspects of yourself you need to improve (Of course, if you live in a false reality this might be difficult, if not impossible, so hopefully that can be overcome as well).

By competing against yourself, you do not need to worry yourself about end rewards and what people will think of you. If you give your best and are truly determined to outdo what you have done in the past, people will be impressed. By not worrying about how others will judge you, you will be able to push boundaries and discover abilities that you would originally be uncomfortable exploiting. This could be finally ignoring others and going out on the dance floor to do your own thing, or it could be standing up for the underdog. To me, a confident person who is willing to push boundaries and possibly look foolish is far, far better than someone who cares too much about appearances and will never truly experience opportunities.

This leads me to my next point. When we push our boundaries by competing against ourselves and ignoring any worries, the end rewards will be abundant. People recognize genuine hard work, even if they do not indicate that they can at first, and this can open up great opportunities, whether it is scholarships, college acceptances, job offers, or just genuine friendship. I have followed this philosophy for a very long time, and it has rarely, if ever, failed me.

So, what is an example of running your own race? A good traditional one is academics and grades. Say Tom is always getting high scores on tests, and people are always very conscientious of this. You usually score a little below him, so no one really pays that much attention to you. Typically, someone would set their sights on beating Tom and Tom only. Do not make this mistake. Compete against yourself. Did you get a 90 on a test, and want to beat Tom's 97? Work hard, and concentrate solely on beating your last performance. By not being preoccupied with Tom, you will have more time to focus on what you need to do. If you focus on one person, you will be begin focusing on others. Soon you may learn that Sally also got a 97, and Bob got a 96. Why keep track of all this when you can devote more energy to seeing what you can do, not others. Many a time you will wind up beating your "Tom" or "Sally" or "Bob" unintentionally, as your concentration on beating yourself pushed you that far above.

Believe me, you will find a great peace of mind when you compete against yourself. The satisfaction of knowing you have performed better than you ever have before is far greater than knowing that you beat some other person.

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