The Olympics are the pinnacle of achievement for many athletes around the world.

A medal is won when talent, plus hard work, plus sacrifice, plus a determined mind come together. The winner stands on the podium with a gold medal for a few minutes and is admired by the world. Many years of dedicated sacrifice culminates in a moment of glory. The athlete then hangs the medal in a prominent place to be admired and remembered, mostly by the medal winner.

In time the glory of that moment fades into a distant memory. That medal gathers dust and occasionally someone passes by and with a glance, barely mentions its place in history.

I have a vague memory of a young lady who ran a marathon in the Olympics. Her effort was so astounding that I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve looked and researched to find her name and possibly an archived video on YouTube and have failed. Even though I don’t know her name, what she did inspires me to this day. 

She didn’t actually receive a medal. In fact, she came in last. The marathon is the last race of the Olympics. It finishes in the great stadium where tens of thousands cheer the winners. This young lady had apparently become dehydrated and her body became almost dysfunctional. But she would not quit.

The cameraman and announcer and a few officials were the only ones left when she entered the stadium and started the last lap. The arena was almost entirely empty. She entered hobbling and almost crawling into that last lap. She looked as though she were crippled. Each step appeared to be agony. It took forever to make that last lap. I cheered every step. I yelled at the TV, “One more step. You can do it. One more step!” She fell into the arms of an official at the finish line. A few lonely claps could be heard. Those who were required to wait until the last one crossed the finish line clapped as though they were obligated. 

This young lady has no medal, but she has my heart. I want to finish well. I want to win my race, for myself. It can be lonely. Nobody cheers. It can be discouraging, painful and even unrewarding at times.

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(Photo: iStock)

We are in an industry that allows us to win race after race. These races are called sales. We win the medal each time we collect a premium. Our clients receive value from our performance.

Sometimes, running the race is very hard. But in this case, finishing is winning.

Our medals don’t hang on walls. They hang on our children in the form of clothes. They are food on our tables. Our medals are beautiful homes. We are able to enjoy cherished moments tucking our little ones into bed because we are in control of our time. These medals are parked in our driveways. These medals are cars we can afford for our kids to drive to school. They are memories of world travel with our spouses; of trips to amazing places like Hawaii, Bali, New Zealand and Europe. 

These medals can be seen at a ceremony as we watch our kids graduate from colleges that become affordable because we know how to finish a race. Our medal is the elation of watching our wives jump for joy at the jewelry store when we upgrade that tiny wedding ring bought so long ago. These medals allow us to spend a Friday afternoon fishing on a quiet beach. They allow us to see a movie at 1 P.M. while every one else sits back down at their desk at work. These medals are eating well at nice restaurants. Our world changes for the better when we finish the race.

Back to that inspiring young runner. She could have stepped off the track to sit down. She could have quit and nobody would have blamed her. But, she would have blamed herself. 

Think of her as you continue to take another step in your own race. Meet someone new. Find another prospect. When you do, look around. Nobody will be watching. Nobody will be cheering. Just you, and that’s all that matters.

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