Race To Success
Written By: Troy Tait
With the start of each new year comes the opportunity to make improvements in our lives – the term most people use to describe this annual phenomenon is “New Year’s Resolutions.” I am one who frequently falls in the category of making a few resolutions, carrying them out for several weeks, and then slowly falling back into my old, comfortable, and familiar habits. I take great comfort in saying, “at least I tried,” and “I can always try again next year.” These phrases have become quite common in the middle of February.
A few weeks ago, in an effort to accomplish one of my standard resolutions to lose weight and get in better shape, I was attending a cycling class at a local gym. There were several rows of stationary bikes, and the class was completely full. This week, I happened to be on a bike that was in the back corner – side note, this is a really good place for a guy like me, so the instructor can’t see me when I slow down to take a break.
As we were nearing the end of the class, the instructor said it was time to have a little competition, and we were going to participate in a race. I thought to myself, “These bikes are stationary. How can we possibly race?” Then she explained how this would work. We would have 9 minutes to try and reach 3 miles. The first person to achieve this goal would win a prize. I thought, “This will be great. I can just take my time and use the 9 minutes to recover from the last 45 minutes. After all, no one would have any idea how far I went.”
Then she said the magic words, “The winner will get a shake.” Of course, I assumed she meant a real shake, and I immediately thought of a big chocolate chip peanut butter shake from my favorite ice cream shop, but apparently, she meant a shake from the café at the club – so she meant a healthy drink – but all I could focus on was the good shake. Suddenly this reward got everyone excited, and I could see everyone psyching themselves up for this race. As I looked around the room, I began to measure up the competition. There were several who were just like me – brand new participants, trying to enjoy a leisurely bike ride on a Saturday morning. I figured I could beat most of them. The next group included those who had clearly been in the class for more than a few weeks. They were in a little better shape and weren’t breathing as hard as me. I had a chance, but it would require a little work to beat those in this group. The last and most challenging group were the professionals. Their numbers were small, but I knew they would be tough to beat. They had shoes that clipped to the pedal, special pants, and a jersey that showed which bike club they belonged to. It would take a miracle for me to beat them, but I was still focused on the real shake, so I kind of thought I had a chance.
As we got closer to the start, the instructor gave some final advice - “pretend like there is a truck behind you and they are trying to catch you.” That didn’t seem very motivating to me, so I switched it up and made the truck an ice cream truck that was in front of me. It is amazing what the body can accomplish when the mind is focused – at least, that is what people have said. On this day, I did not have that experience. I almost killed myself chasing after an imaginary ice cream truck while trying to win a race on a stationary bike, with the prize being a healthy drink that was probably made with spinach and other green, healthy vegetables.
As I was sitting on my couch later that day, eating a cookie and watching football, I realized the lesson that I had learned. It is good to challenge ourselves, but we must make sure we understand that sometimes our greatest competition is ourselves. We can’t let our perception of others determine our place or how much effort we need to exert to be successful. Our personal success shouldn’t be measured by where we finish compared to others. We should have a good idea of what we want to accomplish and a plan on how to get where we want to be. That plan must allow for flexibility and change because sometimes we can be spinning as fast as we can and not go anywhere.
These ideas apply to our personal lives as well as our professional lives. I am grateful to work for a company that has remained consistent for more than 30 years. That consistency has come from an understanding of who we are and our place in the market. We know our strengths and the values we bring. While we are aware of our competition, we never change our values or compromise our way of doing business just to compete. We have maintained flexibility so we can adjust along the way and continue to serve our customers in a positive and meaningful manner. We are very much aware of the prize that we seek – it is real and built on the foundation of helping medical professionals provide the best possible medical care and achieve positive patient outcomes.