Reflecting on what truly matters

Ro and Phyllis 2013-07-20 17.55.40We tell our children that you can learn more from failure than from success. But do we actually believe that ourselves? What do we do after we’ve failed to reach a goal we set for ourselves?

This week, I’ve had a chance to reflect on these questions myself in a very personal way. On Sunday, I was unable to finish the Moonwalk half marathon – fainting from the heat and humidity after mile 12 of the 13.1 – and I experienced many feelings in the aftermath. Some I expected – disappointment, regret, sadness, anger. But what surprised me was all of the positive emotions I felt. Look for these yourself, even when you fall short of your expectations:

Camaraderie. The experience of meeting and joining with a community of like-minded people was exhilarating. As we walked to raise funds for breast cancer screening, we shared stories and built rapport that carried us for many miles.

Support from family and friends. Before, during and after my walk, I received calls from my sons, daughters-in-law and friends encouraging me. My friend Phyllis never left my side until she knew I was in good hands with the emergency medical services team.

Help from strangers. All along the route there were volunteers cheering us on, even at 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning. And New York’s finest – policemen, firemen, paramedics, EMS workers – all were there for us when we needed them. They cared for us and made us feel valued.

Helpers high. The entire volunteer experience created an environment of joy, excitement and accomplishment. Being of service to others highlighted the sense of gratitude we feel for all our many gifts.

And what else did I reflect on this week? Picking myself up after a defeat, I reviewed some of the important steps in achieving a difficult task: setting a goal, making a public commitment, focusing on attainable objectives, training efficiently, finding role models and buddies for support. I know that I have a better chance of overcoming obstacles and succeeding if I get lots of sleep, eat healthfully and listen to my body earlier in the process. Most importantly, I’ve learned that whatever the outcome, I can grow and find meaningful positives in the experience.

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