Today is the start of an eight-week series, designed to challenge us to close out this year with a sense of the true spirit of the holidays, discovering and searching along the way, setting us on a course to catapult us into 2017. “Finish Strong in 2016” is not a one-way conversation. This is as much for me as it is for anyone else.
In a few hours, the next chapter of our nation’s history will begin. Our ears have been filled with the voices of each candidate, pointing out the failures and flaws of the other. By the end of it all, it was difficult to decipher the core values and true intent of each person running. Many voters feel they are unable to cast their vote for someone they truly believe in.
If comparison has infiltrated your own thinking, it’s very likely that your response to life is tainted by a measurement of where you are, in relation to everyone around you. We look to our right to find someone who is living a very different story than our own. Look to the left? Another story. Scroll through social media feeds to find bits of stories. You hear echoes of a story as you listen to the woman in line at the checkout counter. Your colleague in the cubicle across the way? Another story is played out and you are a witness. Our stories often cross over like threads in a tapestry and yet, our contribution is unique. Each thread composed of the fiber of our being – the individual we are created to be.
32 trips around the sun and I am still learning what it means to honor and celebrate the stories of those around me without plotting my own story on a chart right next to theirs – Happiness on the Y-axis and Success on the X-axis.
“Sure, they just learned they are having another baby, but they look EXHAUSTED.”
“What a gorgeous wedding gown! To have found the love of your life AND have that body? I would give anything.”
“I’m surprised he landed the promotion. Whatever it takes to pay off those massive luxury car loans, right? Maybe someday my boss will recognize my talent.”
“Oh, don’t mind me. I’m over here sipping my coffee in the backroom of my retail-store-prison while they float around the coast of Santorini.”
There is a phrase that has been ringing in my ears for the better part of 2016: Stay in your lane. On August 9, Michael Phelps went up against Chad le Clos at the Olympic games in Rio. At one point, Le Clos looks over to see Phelps gain the lead. I bleed red, white and blue during the Olympics. Even so, I wanted to yell at the television screen, “STAY IN YOUR LANE!!!” I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Someone in my line of sight takes the next step on their journey and a wave of defeat takes me out.
It’s not a perfect science and it requires loads of grace, but I believe we can begin to change our attitude toward our own situation, even over the course of this next week. When we encounter the stories of others, we have the opportunity to both honor and to celebrate their present situation. The people in our lives will be encouraged by words that are spoken from a place of authenticity. From there, we get back in our lane. Their story might inspire us to run faster, swim harder, be bolder, but we cannot let it slow our pace. One glance in the wrong direction can take our thoughts into a vicious cycle that leads us to believe we have less than what it takes.
So take courage, my friends! Leave no room for comparison to take up space in your day. Today is the starting point to our strongest year-end finish yet.