Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Life is Like a NASCAR Race

I've blogged before about realizing your potential and reaching beyond it. No doubt you've heard always give 110 percent, though, like me, you may wonder if it's possible to give more than 100
Even Frogs Read
percent. But let's not get bogged down in semantics.

This past Sunday I sat recliner-bound, watching the NASCAR race as I do most Sundays. One of my favorite parts of a race is the after-race driver interviews. Drivers at that point haven't had time to decelerate from the heart-pounding pace they've been on for the past three or four hours, so they tend to be candid. In short, they speak their minds and we, the fans, get a glimpse of who they are mad at and why. Who among us doesn't enjoy seeing our sports heroes mix it up a bit?

Sometimes you'll hear a driver say he finished better than he should have. He may have finished tenth yet he is all smiles because his car was a top fifteen car at best. Next week he may finish seventh and be upset because his car was better than his finish.

Not every driver can be Jimmie Johnson (google that if you don't know who he is and what he has accomplished in a race car). Racing is a team sport. Just like a quarterback can't win a football game on his own, a driver can't win a race without a solid team effort and almost-perfect equipment. Even the smallest mistake can mean the difference in winning and losing (in NASCAR, losing begins with the driver who crosses the finish line second).

I don't recall which driver said it this past Sunday. It doesn't matter. Each week it's someone different. I took a twelfth place car and put it in the top ten. What did he mean by that, and why is that a life lesson?

Sometimes a driver can take a twelfth place car and win a race, but those times are few and far between, and usually involves rain. Every driver on the track wants to win. Hopes to win. The winner is the only one who gets to take the victory lap and smoke their tires and hug the Sprint Cup girls in the winner's circle, but the plain and simple truth of it is that only a handful of drivers have equipment capable of winning week in and week out. So what do all those other drivers do? Why are they out there trying so hard?

When a driver finishes a race ahead of his or her equipment, he or she has reason to be proud. It means they took what was given them and outperformed. They didn't look at Jimmie Johnson and throw up their hands because they knew they probably couldn't beat him. Instead, they buckled down and gave 110 percent.

Face it, not many of us have the business savvy of Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett. Few have the mind of Stephen Hawking. Not every writer can be John Grisham, or James Patterson.

So why try?

In life, as in a NASCAR race, each and every one of us should take a realistic inventory of our talents and abilities, then work tirelessly to finish ahead of what we think possible. Do that, and you are almost certain to be successful. You may even find that pushing your limits reveals potential you never dreamed you had. Ability is like a muscle. It needs exercise. Use it or lose it.

Last but not least, don't fall victim to the nonsense some people throw out about successful people being successful because they were lucky, or because someone gave them something. Don't buy into the you didn't build that rhetoric flung about by those who profit from class warfare. Behind every successful person is a lot of hard work, long hours, and tireless effort to move beyond what most would consider good enough.

* * *

I write novels about people dealing with their limitations, real and learned. I hope, in the process, to also entertain. To learn more about my novels, and for links to purchase (or sample) them, please visit my website at CarlPurdon.com.

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