The 18-year-old I'll never forget

In 2008 I was forwarded an ESPN clip about Ben Comen, a then high school senior who has since changed the way I think about myself as an athlete and even the way I approach my business.

Ben was a runner on his cross-country team, but there was something different about him. There's no better way to tell the story than by sharing the video I received some five years ago. 

Watch his 8-minute story here:

Ben reminds me to ask myself a few questions:

  • What is it that you’re telling yourself right now that you can’t do? Why are you believing this?
  • Is there something in your life that you want so badly that you’re been willing to literally fall in the mud at times, get back up and joyfully keep on running?
  • Who is on your team?

Ben Comen could have easily told himself that he couldn’t run or compete with the team. He could have believed what others thought of his abilities. Thank goodness he didn't listen to any voice that limited him, because Ben shows all of us that becoming really good at anything - growing your business, living your best life, becoming an athlete - starts with LOVE and can look a lot like falling down, getting back up, and continuing on.

Here are a few invitations to take with you and consider:

1)    What do you LOVE? Put differently, is there activity - baking, painting, dancing, singing - that fills you with JOY? As Eckhart Tolle says, "... When you enjoy doing something, you are really experiencing the joy of Being in its dynamic aspect. That's why anything you enjoy doing connects you with the power behind all creation." Forget time or obligations. Do the activity you love and let joy flow into it.  

2)    Find your team. Surround yourself with people who will cheer you on, be willing to allow you to fall and run with you as you get back up. You may not know your team yet, but know that there are people out there cheering you on as you bravely take one step forward.

3)    The course might feel lonely at times, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. If you don't know who's on your team yet, hire a professional coach that will help you navigate the course and be your cheerleader too. 

4)    If you want to compete – compete with your best. Competing with others takes energy away from what you're trying to accomplish. If Ben only ran to compete with others, it's quite possible he never would have even tried.

5)    Practice self-acceptance and know that you belong – not fit in – belong. As Brené Brown says, "Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us... Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self acceptance."

Describing running Ben said, "I'm very relaxed. Nothing bothers me. I'm just off in my own little world where everything is perfect." I think of Ben if my mind questions whether I can do something, and then I try to relax, get to a place where nothing bothers me, and sit in my own little world where everything is perfect... because deep down I know it is.