Days before my second marathon, a well-meaning friend said, “If you can’t finish, go as far as you can.”
I laughed and gently told her “I’ll finish. Quitting is not an option.”
Nearly everyone who enters a marathon enters with the intention of finishing — no matter what. Except in the case of extreme illness or injury, quitting is not an option.
My friend Brian Sooy completed his first marathon on Sunday. We’ve become virtual running partners, reporting training runs to each other and encouraging one another through difficulty. Though his breathing is often challenged by asthma, he perseveres in running. During his race, cold weather increased his breathing difficulty. And yet he finished.
Removing quitting as an option creates the opportunity to endure whatever pain and trial comes as necessary and important to the bigger goal. When quitting is not an option, pain is something to notice, not a point of focus. When quitting is not an option, discomfort is a temporary inconvenience that serves a greater purpose.
Around mile 23, while starting the first of two hills at the end of my race, I started to feel the pain and fatigue of the miles. But the idea of stopping, so close to the finish? Absolutely unfathomable. My only option: keep going.
In addition to marathons, here are other things in my life for which quitting is not an option: I won’t quit loving and investing in my children. I won’t quit my commitment to my marriage. I won’t quit my faith. I won’t quit pouring into my business.
Quitting Is Not An Option
There have been many days since I founded my company when I’ve wanted to quit. In the very early stages, when the work we did included fewer team members and a smaller number of projects, quitting might have been an option. But although I may change or shift how I work in the future, I have a commitment to my team and our clients that demands that I continue to run strong. I must keep going.
Rough days with the team? Those will happen. An unexpected departure of a valued team member? Painful, but part of the process. Fatigue? Burnout? Yes. Yes. Both temporary discomforts along the journey.
If I were to compare running a marathon to starting a business, I’d likely say I’m still running the first 10K. Where running a business departs from running a marathon is this: though I may feel good, strong, happy, and at ease during the first miles of a long race, every mile of this business journey has contained moments of struggle. Yet all are necessary and temporary discomforts on the journey.
Every mile is a gift. I keep running because I know the journey and results are worthwhile.