With all the talk lately of win-at-all-costs and a general despair about the lack of character in sport, I am pleased to offer you an antidote.
More importantly, I want to ask you what you would do in this situation?
If I am honest I might have run past Abel Mutai, but not for the reason you might think. It just might not have occurred to me slow down and remind Abel that the race wasn’t really over, and that the finish line was still ahead.
This is a question of awareness. I might have just kept running as I was in a race to run and cross the finish line as quickly as possible. That a runner was slowing down before the finish line would be incidental and likely un-noticed at the time.
I might wonder if he was injured, and would certainly have gone back to check on him after I finished, but I can’t say – with absolute certainty – that I would have done Ivan Fernandez Anaya did.
I would, of course, have felt terrible afterwards, once I understood that Abel Mutai mistakenly thought he had crossed the finish line when he was actually some 30 feet short, and that I won because of that slight error.
The critical bit here is that Anaya had the presence of mind, while just about to finish a physically grueling race, to realize that Mutai was making a mistake and that the right thing to do was to point it out and make sure he received what was rightfully his.
If we’re honest, most people would admit that they wouldn’t have had the awareness to make that choice – in the moment.
Anaya did what he did, and was able to do what he did when he did it, because that who he was. He had such deep character that he automatically did the right thing.
How can we cultivate and live with such depth of character? Practice.
We must make it a point to behave in a certain ways, no mater what. We must decide that our values are sacrosanct.
To do so requires, of course, that we know our values, but assuming we do, we make it priority to live in accordance with said values.
Practically, how do we do this?
We create an awareness exercise where (after getting clear on our values… ) every hour of each day we pause to reflect on how the last 60 minutes went. We pause and ask ourselves: “Did I live in accordance with my values, and if not, where did I slip up?”
(In the even of “slip-ups” ask yourself what happened, identify the source and make appropriate corrections.)