Think About Your Legacy – It’s What People Actually Remember

I recently started reading a wonderful book by Stephanie Melish titled Bank Your Mistakes. It’s a great read, and it’s part of my personal/professional development reading. While there are often parallels between business development and running (goals, success, long term vision, etc.), the first chapter in this book truly connects in a way that nearly startled me.

“Your goals should be aimed toward answering this one question: what do you want you to be known for?”In the era of social media, all of us re creating a personal brand and a legacy. What happens on the internet does, almost always, stay on the internet. “Legacy” has new meaning in the year 2017. People won’t read about your passing in the paper and learn about all the things you did in your life. They’ll already know.

You may have started wondering what the hell this has to do with running, and I’ll explain. Whether or not you want to believe this, you are creating a legacy as a runner. Forget the size of your audience because it doesn’t matter. When you talk about your runs, when you post about your runs, when you blog about your runs, when you set running goals, you’re building a legacy.

It’s kind of a big deal.

When I started thinking about my running goals, I asked myself, “are these in line with what I want myself to be known for?” I realized I couldn’t answer that until I figured out what it is I want to be known for. It didn’t take that long to figure out.

I want to be know for not giving up. Even when it’s pouring outside, even when I have to take walk breaks, even when I’m injured halfway through a race – I want to be that person that doesn’t give up. I want people watching to see that it’s possible to keep going regardless of speed or pace or whatever. And I want all of them to understand that crossing the finish line is an accomplishment regardless of time.

I want to be known as the girl who built a business on a sport that she never even touched until age 27. It’s important to be because people need to realize that it’s never too late to start something new or set fire to your passion (or discover what that passion is). I want people to see that you don’t have to be a high school track star ten years ago to become a runner and build a life as a coach and a race director (or simply grow a presence on social media).

I want to be known for the people I inspire. I want to inspire people to run that first lap around the block and start blogging and post their runs proudly on social media because they deserve to do those things. I want to break the norm that elites are the only runners who dictate what inspiration is. Anyone can rise to the top as long as they try hard enough.

I noticed that none of these had anything to do with “I want to run perfect tempo pace on Thursday nights” or “I want people to see my speed drills.” Just thinking about this and focusing on the type of legacy I want to produce, as a runner, gave me so much insight into the running goals I’ve set before and will set in the future.

The goals I set in the past were based on what I thought the standards were: time goals, speed trials, whatever. I assumed I had to run fast to be part of some proverbial club. I’d try, and I’d fail miserably. I set a goal in the Akron Half that was virtually unattainable yet. I set a goal for Pittsburgh in May because I felt like I had to, in some ways.

When it comes down to it, I’m not going to be that person. I’m not going to be that super fast runner.

But what I am going to be is a marathon race director who took on what everyone said would be a disaster. A half marathon finisher. A run-blogger writer with a lot of readers. A run coach that inspires others. A voice of reason when someone is injured and is having a hard time with it. A business owner who works hard every day for who and what she believes in. A woman that companies keep an eye on because maybe she’d be an asset to their marketing, advertising, and sales.

Yea, that sounds more like me than “top three female finisher.”

Look, I want you to think about this. I want you to think about the runner you want to be and the person that it is turning you into. Think about whether or not your goals align with your vision of how you want to be known and remembered. Whatever you come up with, do it. Go all in on you and forget what the so-called “norm” is.

As for me? I’ve decided that it’s time to go all in 150% as the runner that I am and want to be, and as the business owner that I see myself becoming. I’ve been at about 85%. Time to go all in.

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