Leadership can be a lonely road. Many times we get discouraged when the results aren’t as timely or notable as we had hoped. In times like that I recall the story of a lone runner in Mexico City in the summer of 1968.
Out of the cold darkness he came. John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania entered at the far end of the stadium, pain hobbling his every step, his leg bloody and bandaged. The winner of the marathon had been declared over an hour earlier. Only a few spectators remained. But the lone runner pressed on.
As he crossed the finish line, the small crowd roared out its appreciation. Afterward, a reporter asked the runner why he had not retired from the race, since he had no chance of winning. He seemed confused by the question. Finally, he answered:
“My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish.”
While the end results of our leadership challenges may seem unremarkable there is a certain satisfaction that comes from completing plans. Little did that lonely run ever envision that forty years later his story would be retold, so it is with our efforts, we can not know what long term effects they will have on those around us.
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