Hello Monetization Nation. Today I want to share with you a poem that has a lot of meaning to me on multiple levels. This poem is titled “The Race”, attributed to Dr. D.H. “Dee” Groberg.
Whenever I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face,
my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
A children’s race, young boys, young men; how I remember well,
excitement sure, but also fear, it wasn’t hard to tell.
They all lined up so full of hope, each thought to win that race
or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
Their parents watched from off the side, each cheering for their son,
and each boy hoped to show his folks that he would be the one.
The whistle blew and off they flew, like chariots of fire,
to win, to be the hero there, was each young boy’s desire.
One boy in particular, whose dad was in the crowd,
was running in the lead and thought “My dad will be so proud.”
But as he speeded down the field and crossed a shallow dip,
the little boy who thought he’d win, lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his arms flew everyplace,
and midst the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.
As he fell, his hope fell too; he couldn’t win it now.
Humiliated, he just wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
which to the boy so clearly said, “Get up and win that race!”
He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that’s all,
and ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
his mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.
He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.
“I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”
But through the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face
with a steady look that said again, “Get up and win that race!”
So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!”
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight, then ten…
but trying hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
Defeat! He lay there silently. A tear dropped from his eye.
“There’s no sense running anymore! Three strikes I’m out! Why try?
I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought. “I’ll live with my disgrace.”
But then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.
“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “you haven’t lost at all,
for all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
Get up!” the echo urged him on, “Get up and take your place!
You were not meant for failure here! Get up and win that race!”
So, up he rose to run once more, refusing to forfeit,
and he resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit.
So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,
still he gave it all he had and ran like he could win.
Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.
They cheered another boy who crossed the line and won first place,
head high and proud and happy — no falling, no disgrace.
But, when the fallen youngster crossed the line, in last place,
the crowd gave him a greater cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud,
you would have thought he’d won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”
“To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”
And now when things seem dark and bleak and difficult to face,
the memory of that little boy helps me in my own race.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
And when depression and despair shout loudly in my face,
another voice within me says, “Get up and win that race!”
This poem resonates with me on several different levels. It resonates with me on a spiritual level because I think it exemplifies what repentance is. We all make mistakes; we all sin. We all fall short despite our best efforts, but when we repent and we commit to change, that’s like getting up and dusting ourselves off and continuing with the race. We all have to do that; we all have things we have to repent for and areas we could improve in.
This life is not about being perfect. If being perfect was the measure of a successful life, all of us would be failures, and we were definitely not all sent to earth to be failures. The measure of success is if we get up each time we fall, if we choose to repent and recommit ourselves and try harder next time. The serious problem comes in when we choose to stay down, stay in our sin and not repent or try to be better.
Never Giving Up
I think this poem is also very appropriate for an entrepreneur. Nearly every wildly successful entrepreneur has had at least one massive failure in their career.
One example of an entrepreneur who always got back up is Brian Chesky. Chesky and his friend were very low on money with lots of debt when they had an idea to rent out space in their apartment. They decided to go a step further and teamed up with another friend, and went hunting for investors. They approached seven major investment companies. Two never replied and five declined the involvement (Source: Quality Logo Products Blog).
However, about a year later, an investment company found them and they took out a loan to start Airbnb. Now, Airbnb has reached more than 34,000 cities, and has more than 60 million guests (Source: Quality Logo Products Blog).
Walt Disney also had his fair share of failure. He was famously fired from a Missouri newspaper when his editor claimed that he “lacked imagination” and had no good ideas (Source: Business Insider). When he started his first animation business, he had to declare bankruptcy in the first year. He also lost his rights to his popular cartoon, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. However, despite all these failures, Disney, got back up when he fell and pushed forward.
Now, the company he founded is worth more than $122 billion (Source: Global Rankings). Disney said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” He also famously said, “The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.”
Thomas Edison was also famous for getting up after he fell. One of his teachers told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive” and as an inventor, he famously made more than a thousand unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail a thousand times, Edison simply replied, “I didn’t fail a thousand times. The light bulb was an invention with a thousand steps.” He also said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try one more time.”
That’s my challenge for us today. As we fall, as we inevitably will, in our entrepreneurial pursuits and in our lives, the important thing isn’t whether we’re the first person across the finish line. The thing that truly matters is that we get up each time we fall. We get up and we strive to win our race.
Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- Winning isn’t a matter of crossing the finish line first; it is our ability to get back up each time we fall.