Where do we see some of the greatest victories? When do we envision the crowd going wild with everyone on their feet? Where do we see a photo finish or winning by nose? At the finish line, the end of a race. Some of the greatest moments in all sports happen at the finish line. In the blink of an eye, spectators observe hours, days, weeks, and even years of preparation culminating at the very end of the race. For athletes, it is the finish that is most important. The finish line represents the reason for all their training, hard work, and dedication. Some athletes devote much of their lives to simply finishing. The finish line represents the reason for everything they have done prior.
In life, we too must focus on our finish line. The finish line represents our end goals. The finish line is the reason why we choose to get up every day and do whatever it is that we do. All of us have different goals and different finish lines we wish to cross. However, everyone is striving for something. Whether it’s to start a youth program, to protect our country, to move into a private home, to raise a family, to minister to inmates, or to have a career, all of us have finish lines in our life that we strive to cross. So, if we know where we want to end, then we must begin at the finish line. When you start at the finish line, life’s race is your victory.
First Reach the Finish Line (To Finish First)
What happens when you do not win the race? Notice earlier I did not say that athletes spend years of hard work and dedication to win. I did not say that winning was the most important outcome. I said that athletes put in extensive training to reach the finish line. I said that the finish line represents all the reasons for their blood, sweat, and tears. Every sacrifice, every hour spent in the gym, every effort that the athlete has made was done for the sole purpose of finishing the race. This is because every athlete fully understands that you must first reach the finish line before you can finish first. This too is true in life. All our energy, focus, and motivation must be dedicated to crossing the finish line.
Winners Win (Heroes are Made)
Some people just get lucky. Some people win even though they might not deserve it. Beginner’s luck they say. But winning by chance is not how champions are born. Heroes are made. Someone who is determined to cross the finish line must make changes or sacrifices in their life to achieve their goals. Heroes in life cross the finish line for the races they run. They do this by how they view the race. Simply put, they start at the finish line and work backward to where they currently stand in life. They view the final goal first and determine what is needed to get there by walking the goal backward to their current situation.
Take for example an athlete who has the goal to make the varsity basketball team in high school. The finish line (goal) is making the high school varsity team. To make the varsity team the athlete must be chosen by the head coach who is accepting the top 12 players who meet specific expectations. These expectations include free throw percentage scores, shooting percentage scores, a timed 2-mile run, a timed sprint, height jumped, weightlifting scores, out-of-school behavior, grade point average, teacher reports, and a letter of recommendation.
To make the varsity basketball team, the athlete must move backward from the end goal to their current position. Starting at the finish line and working backward looks like this:
- Start at the Finish Line: Make the varsity basketball team
- Be chosen by the head coach
- Determine the head coach’s expectations
- Be top 12 in the coach’s 10 expectations
- Determine top standards for the 10 expectations
- Evaluate my performance in the coach’s 10 expectations
- Compare my performance in all 10 areas to the top standards
- Identify my performance areas that fail to meet the top standards
- Prioritize my growth areas (fails) needing the most work
- Establish a training regimen to improve my performance in the identified areas
- Obtain the resources to help me be able to complete my training regimen … and so on.
- Current position
When you start at the finish line, you set yourself up for success. By working backward, you can see the path you need to take to get to the end. It looks like a lot of steps. Quite frankly, it is. Making the varsity basketball team is no easy feat, just as crossing the finish line is no simple task. The goals you set for yourself in life require effort, dedication, and perseverance. They require you to work. But when you start at the finish line and work backward, the goals that may have felt impossible suddenly have a clear path to victory. Some people reach their goals and win by luck or through the benefit of someone else’s work. These are winners. Other people must make tireless sacrifices and devote days, weeks, and years of their life to cross the finish line. These are heroes. Therefore, winners may win, but heroes are made.
Forget about Winning (Be Victorious!)
Being a hero that crosses the finish line is hard to achieve. Not everyone gets the distinguished recognition of being a hero in life’s race. But just because it is hard does not mean that it is impossible. Think about taking the perspective of starting at the finish line for all of life’s tasks, events, and goals. Think about this perspective before you get into a heated argument, or before you talk to your children about your expectations. Think about this perspective before you consider a “cheat day” and you deviate from your path to success. Use this perspective to focus on what is most important to you and to avoid making bad choices in life. Using this view allows you to evaluate circumstances in your life in a more meaningful way while giving you direction on how to act. Before you yell at the referee at your child’s game, before you cut down your partner about the choices they made, before you gossip to another about a secret you learned, think first about your finish line and what is most important to you. This perspective will save you from a lot of headaches, much unneeded extra work, embarrassment, hurting others, and getting hurt yourself. This approach to life will empower you for success. So, forget about winning and be victorious! Start at the finish line and make life’s race your victory.