A couple of weeks ago, at the Texas State high school track meet, something remarkable happened.
Matthew Boling, a high school senior who runs for Houston Strake Jesuit, did something that no one in the history of track and field has ever done. He was running the 4×400 relay with his team. The relay consists of each runner running one lap of the track and then handing the baton to their teammate. When Matthew Boling got the baton on the last leg of the relay, his team was 3 seconds behind the team in the lead, trailing nearly 25 meters behind.
Three seconds is an eternity to make up even over the course of a long race, but it has never been done in one lap of the track. However, in this race Matthew Boling made up the three seconds, crossed the line in first place, and secured a victory for his team. He ran so fast his time around the track was only .05 hundredths off the world record for the fastest the 400 meter that has ever been run.
In other words, Matthew Boling did the impossible. He did something that no human being has ever done before.
In the weeks that have followed there has been lots written about Matthew Boling, but I found one piece of commentary especially interesting. One writer wrote,
“Keep in mind too that [Matthew Boling’s] form is far from perfect. His starts aren’t the most efficient, and his finish is a little wobbly.”
Which means that no matter how good you are or how well you do at anything, there will always be somebody ready to point out all the things you did wrong anyway. People are just so helpful, right? I’m sure Matthew Boling is extremely grateful for these insights on where his running really needs some attention and improvement.
For many people, our youth included, one of the big deterrents to setting and achieving lofty goals is the fear of other people’s judgement. We worry that someone will laugh, someone will criticize, someone will notice all the ways we don’t measure up. I think it is powerful to note that even when we have a perfect race and do something that no one has ever done before, there still might be someone out there who disapproves.
But I also want to point out that it doesn’t matter at all. One writer’s commentary did not change the outcome for Matthew Boling. It doesn’t make him less of a runner or take anything away from his accomplishments.
One of the most important skills we can develop and teach our children is acquiring the mental and emotional strength and resilience that is required to ignore the commentary of others on the way to our dreams. People are going to judge you no matter what you do it seems, so you might as well go after your dreams and live the life you want. The fact that other people get to have thoughts or judgement or criticism about the way you are living your life or pursuing your goals, doesn’t mean that they are right or that you have to think about yourself in the same way.
The beliefs we have about ourselves are powerful. Boling’s belief that he could catch the lead runner allowed him to do something impossible. If he had consulted with others he might have concluded that he really didn’t have a good enough start to catch his competitor. We need to understand that Matthew Boling’s “imperfect form,” “inefficient starts,” and “wobbly finishes” could never stop him from reaching his goals. Only his own mental limitations would ever have the power to do that.
In the same way, we need to ask ourselves what we believe about ourselves and our own capacity and ability to accomplish even seemingly impossible things. It truly doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks; in the end, it only ever matters what we think. The thoughts we think about ourselves are the key to everything we ever achieve.
Really understanding the power our thoughts play in the outcomes of our lives is critical for every young person to understand. They are right on the cusp of the creation of their future selves. The more they understand the power of their own beliefs and how to vigilantly manage and discount the judgements and criticism of others, the more ability they will have to create the life of their dreams.
These and other powerful tools are at the heart of our online course, Own It! The teachings, videos, and practical exercises in this youth empowerment course will give your youth the ability to harness the power of their thoughts to create any outcome they want, regardless of what anybody else says.
Our kids, like us, are only ever limited by their own beliefs about themselves. Teach them now to listen to themselves rather than the disparaging commentary of the world around them, so that they can run their race to the best of their ability and accomplish their own impossible feats.