I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted my next blog to be about. I want to keep things interesting, and I want my blog to be different from what you’re used to. You can read about what I’m doing and where I’m going on Twitter, and you can ask me questions and see what I’m up to on Facebook…but this blog is where you I can tell you stuff about me that you probably don’t know. And today I decided to tell you why I stay in my lane, and why you should too.
I’ve been thinking about what I’ve accomplished in my career and how many times I’ve failed – not because I lacked talent or ability – but because I lacked focus and mental maturity.
Early in my career, I worried about everyone else. I knew my competitors’ PRs, the times they ran in their last meet, their championship titles and records, what they ate for breakfast….EVERYTHING. I’m joking about the breakfast (for the most part), but my competitors consumed me. I was so focused on their success and what they were doing that I lost sight of the most important part of my career…ME.
Take this for example. I made it to the 2000 Olympic Trials semi-final in the 200M. That was a huge deal for me because at the time, I was a collegiate athlete at TCU. But there I was, on the track with nothing but a gun and a finish line between me and the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. And where was I? Outside my lane worrying about my competitors. I was standing there with John Coppell, who had just dropped a world leading time in the 200M, Maurice Greene, who was in his prime, and Michael Johnson. THE Michael Johnson. The guy who dominated my favorite event. Enough said.
Now the truth of the matter is that not every heat will be stacked with that much talent every single time, but I was so caught up in who I was racing that I barely remembered that I was racing…and that took its toll on my performance. I finished in fifth place that day, and my Olympic dream was over – really before it began.
Hindsight is 20/20, and God knew what he was doing. I probably wasn’t ready for that kind of success at that point in my life, but I was disappointed. What was frustrating is that I missed the fourth spot by a lean. Had I stayed in my lane, I probably could have made it to the final round. Maybe. Maybe not. But I’ll never know.
It was déjà vu in 2001. I was at US Championships. I made it to the 200M final that time, but I was in another stacked heat: Kevin Little, Ramon Clay, and Shawn Crawford. I allowed my mind and my competitors to get the best of me, and I walked away with the fourth spot, barely missing my second chance at a national team.
But guess what? The following year I was ranked number one in the US in the 200M and number two in the world by Track & Field News. Why? Because I finally learned to stay in my lane. That’s the moral of this story.
There are a lot of high school and collegiate teams competing in Austin this weekend, so just keep this bit of advice in your back pocket. Worry about you. Recognize and enjoy the moment, and have fun – but stay focused on doing what you have to do on the track. Your competitors put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do. So, don’t give them any power over your performance. Stay focused on you, and the results will come.
Think about it like this. Sometimes God says “yes,” sometimes He says, “no,” and other times He tells you to wait. If your performance on the track is stuck in a rut and you can’t seem to get over the hump, maybe He’s waiting on you to develop the mental maturity you need to excel in this sport. Just something to think about. Be easy.