Running Through the Finish Line

I was a track and field athlete in college, and even though my specialty (pole vault) is on the field side of things, I had to run countless sprints as a part of training. What I learned from our coaches was that there is a tendency to let up just a yard or so before the finish line and to let our momentum carry us across.

But there are also lots of races lost in that last yard. What I was taught was to run “through the finish line.” While there might not have been a finish-line string for practices, we imaged that there was and we thrust our chests forward and leaned our heads down and imagined bursting through the string. In fact, we were often told to try and accelerate for 3-5 more yards past the finish line.

I mention this because I spoke recently with a member of The Edge who has the finish line in sight. She’s in Hospice with, in her estimate anywhere from six months to three years to live.

And what does she want to do with her remaining hours? Interior design! She loves it and says she can’t imagine stopping. I went through my own mother’s Hospice experience last year and the thing I was most saddened by in her final years was her low energy level. She sat on the sofa all day and told me how sleepy she felt.

But not this interior designer. In fact, she specifically addressed that point saying, “I find that being creative is what makes me energetic. I can’t imagine giving that up.”

I find that being creative is what makes me energetic. I can’t imagine giving that up.”

At my age (66) I always keep an eye open for articles that include tips on having more energy. I’ve still got plenty, but if a certain diet or certain drink would make a difference, I’d probably give it a try. But if the answer is to remain engaged in creative work, that could be a real game-changer for me, and possibly for you.

This designer was asking me questions about how to get her latest project published, how to find an outsourced procurement partner, how to launch a direct mail campaign and how to become a consultant. She’s got one advantage on her competitors—she doesn’t need the money and that’s not at all why she’s working.

She’s working because it’s what she does and who she is and because it is what makes her want to wake up in the morning and do her work, her creative work.

I’ve written several times lately about the group of Edge members I worked with on their succession plans, and sort of jokingly said that one of the most popular conclusions was simply to never stop working. Now…I don’t even consider it a joke, but a very noble way to look at reaching your own finish line.

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