I was riding the bike trails with my neighbor, Mike, at Fort Yargo State Park on a beautiful November afternoon in 2008. I hate to admit it, but Mike must have been in a lot better shape than I was, because after only five minutes of riding with him in the lead, I noticed that he was gradually pulling away from me. After 15 minutes, he was so far in front of me that I had lost sight of him.
Because I’m a very competitive person, I started trying to catch up, pedaling faster on an unfamiliar trail than I should have. Racing down one hill and starting back up another, I rounded a tree and hit a big root in the middle of the trail. My bike stopped dead still, as bicycles are known to do when they hit stationary objects, and I went sailing over the handle bars.
As I sat on the hard Georgia clay, I assessed the damage and took a quick inventory of all my body parts to see if any were missing. It looked like I had escaped injury except for a few cuts and scrapes, so I hopped back on the bike and finished my ride, albeit a good deal slower than my original pace.
The next day most of my body was sore, and I noticed a weird pinching feeling on my right side whenever I got up or sat down. This went on for the next two weeks until, while I was trying to reach for something in the garage, I twisted my rib cage and heard a distinct “pop” in my side. I knew immediately what that sound meant, having broken four ribs on my other side in a traffic accident some twenty years before. Once you’ve broken a rib, you never forget what it feels like.
There isn’t a whole lot the doctor can do for broken ribs. You can’t bandage them up like you see in old Western TV shows, because there is a risk of pneumonia from not breathing deeply enough. There is truly nothing you can do but rest and take pain medication.
The problem was that I didn’t have time to rest. It was the end of November, and my December calendar was jam-packed with dates that people had booked long before. They were counting on me to show up and do their programs for them, but with the pain I was in, it was hard for me to even think of doing them.
I went to the doctor and got medication which helped take some edge off the pain, but even with its edge gone, the pain was still very much alive and kicking.
My first challenge was the first weekend in December. I had four events, from Friday through Monday, which would take me 7000 miles all over the country. I would have shuddered at the thought of doing these events, if I hadn’t known that shuddering would have caused me a lot of pain.
I’m happy to report that I not only made it through that long weekend, but the rest of the month too, without canceling one event.
I am definitely not trying to paint myself as a tough-guy. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not anything close to a Clint Eastwood. Far from it. I don’t mind telling you the only way I was able to have the courage to make it through the ordeal was constant prayer. And by the grace of God, I made it through the entire long weekend.
I think my main motivation in not canceling my events, was that I knew what it was that I wanted. I’ve worked hard to build my career and to get where I am today. I had had a good year financially up until that point, and I didn’t want the profitability of my year to be torpedoed by an injury. My financial goals are tied to my family goals. I know what my family needs, and it is my job to get it for them. To let an injury stop my income and impede my career is to thwart the forward movement of what I want for my family.
That’s what knowing what you want in life does for you. When you look at the big picture—where you want to go in life, how you want your life to look, where you want to be—it changes your focus. Your perspective changes the way you see challenges. Instead of insurmountable obstacles, you see temporary setbacks. Instead of roadblocks, you see speed bumps.
That’s why it is imperative that you give long, hard thought to what you want in life. If you don’t have a solid idea about where you want to go, you will never make it there.
So now ask yourself what you want for your life—financially, vocationally, relationally, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Imagine for a moment that you are living the last five years of your life. What does it look like? Are you surrounded with your loved ones? Are your financial affairs to your liking? Are you prepared spiritually for the next stage of your eternal journey? Are you able to give to your community? Are you physically active?
What is it exactly that you want? The more that you ponder these questions, the stronger your personal Power of Vision becomes.
Excerpted from The Seven Powers of Success; Unlock Your Strengths, Unleash Your Dreams. www.charlesmarshall.net © 2013 Charles Marshall