By choosing to take an active role in your own life, you will have the opportunity to make your life a run to remember.
Each year the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation hosts its annual Run to Remember to honor fallen Chicago Police Officers and to raise money for police families in need.
In anticipation of this year's Run to Remember, which is scheduled for Sunday, August 22, 2021, it occurred to me that the event is a great metaphor for life.
The Run has grown in popularity over the years and the Foundation can now count on thousands of people to come together at Chicago’s Gold Star Families Memorial and Park to make the event a success.
Some of those people are extremely talented and physically fit runners. Some participants walk the 5 kilometers it takes to complete the course. Some people form teams and compete as part of a large group. Others compete as individuals. Some people bring their entire family to the event. Some push strollers or walk with their children. Some people don’t run or walk; they volunteer their time and energy to stage the event and make sure everything goes smoothly.
Some people participate because they have lost a loved one in service to the city. Some people are there for the thrill of competition. Some people just want to experience a nice time on the lakefront.
I used to worry about what the weather was going to be like on the day of the run. Over the years, however, I have come to realize that the weather isn’t much of a determining factor in the turnout.
I also used to worry about whether or not we would have enough food for the participants or if the prizes and awards would be enough to attract a healthy competition, but it turns out that neither of these factors have played much of a role in determining the success of the event.
Conversely, I used to think that the cause was so great, that the run would attract participants solely on that basis. I have since realized that as great as the cause is, there are thousands of great causes for people to care about and with which to get involved. As committed as we are to our cause, many other people display that same dedication and commitment to many other equally worthy causes, meaning that the competition for time and funds is extreme and our cause alone will not bring people to the event.
I wish I could say that the run is purely a demonstration of unity; that people come together each year for a common purpose. The reality is that every single person who attends the Run to Remember is there for a different reason, with a different approach. Each person has a different goal in mind and is looking for something that isn’t necessarily the same as what the person next to them expects. Everyone has a different role to play.
Attendees come from different parts of the city, different states, and in some cases from different parts of the world and when the race is done they return to those places.
The entire event takes place in the span of about 3 hours, one time per year.
Yet, every year the Run to Remember is a greater success, involving and incorporating more people than it did the previous year. Each year, more money is raised for an expanded number of related and worthy causes.
So if the success of the event is not necessarily because of the cause, or a demonstration of unity, or the location, the timing, the competition, or the prizes, on what is it based? The answer gets us back to why the Run to Remember is such a great metaphor for life.
The event is a success because 5,000 people have made the run a priority based entirely on their own personal reasons, and those reasons are as different and diverse as the people who attend and participate. People who participate in the event have found value in so doing and obtained rewards, as they define them, equal to or greater than the effort they have put forth.
The message, therefore, is very clear. IT IS YOUR LIFE, PARTICIPATE IN IT!
When you make the conscious choice to participate, you will soon discover that things you thought would be obstacles will not deter you from the rewards that you will reap from getting involved and you will find the greatest rewards during the journey, not necessarily in the material prizes awarded afterward.
When you decide what interests you and what is worth your time, you will also quickly discover that it isn’t so important to do what everybody else is doing or to know why they are doing it. It only matters that you have found something that has personal meaning to you.
Whether you enjoy big crowds or you prefer more intimate settings. Whether you like the attention focused on you or you prefer to go about your business quietly, make it a point to find people, events, and causes that you value. Prioritize them and devote yourself to them.
When you identify people that you care about, you will invariably learn from them and grow as a person as a result of the relationships you will develop.
When you find work worth doing, it can be an energizing experience and one that will broaden your horizons in many ways. Doing work you enjoy often leads to additional career and advancement opportunities because you apply yourself in a way that is only possible when you are fully engaged and completely true to your own individual talents.
Being an active participant in your life is certainly more fulfilling and rewarding than being a passive observer of it. When you are an active participant, you determine the direction your life will take and the quality of your life directly relates to the actions that you take.
In other words, by choosing to take an active role in your own life, you will have the opportunity to make your life a run to remember.
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.