Starting Isn’t The Destination

By Dayo Nigeria

Billy Mills winning the 10,000m in the 1964 Ol...

This story is particularly very inspiring to me because it is one that challenges me and tells me that I cannot afford to give up. Failure isn’t when challenges come as stumbling blocks on our journey in pursuing purpose, it is when we give up because of the challenge. I once heard that the breakfast of champions are challenges, and this is absolutely true.

I invite you to come with me to the Mexico City, Olympic Stadium. October 20th 1968, the time, 7.00 pm. The closing ceremonies had just been completed. The spectators and athletes, still warm from the euphoria of the celebration, were gathering their belongings to leave the stadium. Then the announcer asked them to remain in their seats. Down the boulevard came the whine of police sirens. From their vantage point, many in the stadium could see motorcycles with their flashing blue lights, encircling someone making his way toward the stadium. Whoever it was, he was moving slowly.

Everyone remained seated to see the last chapter of the Olympics take place. By the time the police escort got to the stadium, the public address announcer said that a final marathoner would be making his way into the arena and around the track to the finish line. Confusion was evident among the crowd. The last marathoner had come in hours ago. The medals had already been awarded. What had taken this man so long? But the first sign of the runner making his way out of the tunnel and onto the track told the whole story.

John Stephen Akhwari from Tanzania, covered with blood, hobbled into the light. He had taken a horrible fall early in the race, whacked his head, damaged his knee, and endured a trampling before he could get back on his feet. And there he was, over 40 kilometres later, stumbling his way to the finish line. The response of the crowd was so overwhelming, it was almost frightening. They encouraged Akhwari through the last few metres of his race with a thundering ovation that far exceeded the one given the man who, hours earlier, had come in first. When Akhwari crossed the finish line, he collapsed into the arms of the medical personnel who immediately whisked him off to the hospital.

The next day, Akhwari appeared before sports journalists to field their questions about his extraordinary feat. The first question was the one any of us would have asked, “Why, after sustaining the kinds of injuries you did, would you ever get up and proceed to the finish line, when there was no way you could place in the race?” John Stephen Akhwari said this: “My country did not send me over 11,000 kilometres to start a race. They sent me over 11,000 kilometres to finish the race.”

You don’t have any excuses not to get to the finish line, the only reason you won’t get to the finish line isn’t the challenge you will face, but your decision to quit. The earlier you knew that no one else, but you, is responsible for your success or failure. How many times have you seen young people blame the situation of things in the country as the reason they’ve not been able to achieve anything. Have you forgot so soon that if there was no Goliath, David might not have established himself as a warlord. The reason that challenge is before you is for the purpose of your announcement.

I don’t care what you are going through, I don’t care what you’ve been told by people, I don’t care what all those things that are telling you to quit are, what I am sure of is that if your heart is capable of conceiving the idea, then you are capable of achieving it. Don’t listen to the noise in the market, concentrate on what you have gone to do in the market.

I challenge you not to give up on your dreams, because there must be a battle you have to win for you to be called a winner. Don’t give up when you have not even started anything and you have to know that your challenges are there to become stepping-stones for you.

You are created to be the best, never give up until you become the best. And remember, it is not just about starting, the most important thing is to get to the finish line.

God bless you
God bless Nigeria.

#Dayo Nigeria is the President of Impact Nigeria Network, a leadership speaker, and a writer with a pen that ‘stings’.

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