Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reaching our Potential

View from top of Hope Pass

First of all, I'd like to say thanks to everybody who has been so supportive of the Potentially Painful Summer.  This weekend I ran my third 100 in as many months, the Leadville Trail 100.  This was the toughest 100 for me ever.  I ended up walking for the last 20 miles but still ended up finishing in 74th place out of 650 starters.  My finishing time was 24 hours and 34 minutes.  I kept my "A-Goal" of buckling at all of my races so far, but it wasn't easy.  I will be writing a full race report shortly.

Until then, there is a subject that is so near and dear to my heart that I feel it is one of the core things that defines me as a human. I have not written too much about it on my blog because of something that happened years ago with my friend, "Sherpa" John Lacroix. I now realize that not writing about something that is so important to me is silly. This is my blog, I can write about anything that I want.

On one of our first runs together, when we were just getting to know each other, I shared with John how the one thing that really frustrates me is when somebody doesn't see the same potential in themselves that I see in them. I told him how I thought that my life would have so much more meaning if I could inspire somebody to realize that those dreams they have are actually attainable. If I could do that, I would be able to leave this life feeling that I had contributed something really substantial.

Not very long after that conversation, John changed the name of his blog to "Sherpa John: Human Potential". I was pretty upset, but I also understood that I certainly wasn't the first to feel this way about our potential to accomplish big goals. In fact, I bet that almost anybody who has run 100 miles probably feels the same way. John's blog gets a lot more traffic than mine and I felt like I couldn't write about this passion of mine without people thinking that I was plagiarizing him. Whenever I wrote about it I was very careful to phrase it a different way.

I felt like this robbed me of one of my deepest beliefs. Not long ago I finally told John how I felt. It was good to get it off my chest, but I still felt like he took one of the most important things away from me. During our conversation John told me that of course our conversation had influenced him. He said something to the extent of  "Isn't that what happens all the time with deep conversations like those?  Aren't we all just taking the things that strike us as important and incorporating them into who we are?"  I realized that rather than being upset, I should be flattered that I was able to speak with enough passion to influence somebody close to me. Isn't that exactly what I was trying to do? I think my real problem is that I was jealous that he ran with the idea and wrote about it more eloquently than I did.

As I was thinking about writing this, something struck me. The word "potential" is almost patronizing. If you really believe that you can do anything you decide to do, do you ever reach your potential? Once you accomplish that big goal, isn't there always the next step or goal? By saying that you haven't reached your potential aren't you really saying that your not good enough as you are? I realized that it is more about your mindset as far as what you decide to accomplish than what your potential is. Every single one of us has the potential to get more out of this life than we currently have, no matter what you have or what you have accomplished so far.

I really think that we have unlimited potential. I am a big believer that once we decide to accomplish something and attack it with a relentless burning passion, nothing can stand in our way. I hope that in some small way I might provide the tipping point for somebody to go after their dream. That would be realizing MY potential.


sherpajohn said...

Nate... Plase realize that it was YOUR WORDS that catapulted me to realize so much of my own potential... From that very first talk we had. You've change my life in ways I'll never be able to describe to you in words... And i'm willing to bet that you've silently inspured others as well. So... Again.. THANK YOU... And I hope the others will come forward and thank you as well... It takes a lot to do it..


Nathan Sanel said...

John, you have no idea how much that means to me. Thank you!