Struggles Before Success

Over the past few weeks I have noticed a decline in my posts, as I am sure you have. That can be good at time, lol.  One of the biggest differences I noticed when I moved to Mexico from the states, and back, was the time I allotted myself.  I say this often, I notice this “hamster effect” in the United States- meaning I feel this culture of having to do more, do it faster, and do it even more than that first more.  No matter how much I resisted, I cannot shake that effect, I step outside and it surrounds me.  For some reason, I has an invisible shield that allowed me to pull back, create a life that allowed me to find some concessions in time to allow me to think, reflect, and to write.  My blog time grew as I also grew as a person with that newly acquired time allotted.

This sounds bad, right?  Yet, through this struggle and personal battle over time, some more important realizations also occur.  The individual projects and actions I do not regret, except for one thing.  The loss of commitment to each other.  Through so many activities and events during the day, from the first class in the day, to a lunch period here, to a meeting there, to a class meeting over here, to one of my favorite past times, cross country – you see small glimmers of those coming together and earning success as a team or group,  with the secondary level of success as an individual taking a back seat.  The drive to be number one, to be the best in the United States, as well as other countries, is stronger than it has ever been.  What is so bad about that?

To be honest, not much, in degrees.  In my experience, the greatest victories and levels of success achieved have been learning the art of sacrifice and victory when you can look to your left, look to your right, and see those around you that have helped obtain that individual success.  I have struggled the past few days with a mentality that group comes second, individuality comes first at all cost.  Until something tragic occurs, and then group is needed and essential.  As a Media Specialist, advisor, mentor, coach, educator I decided to make a choice, I choose creating a familial, group mentality in all I do, in all I create, advise, mentor, coach, and educate as my mantra because at the end of the day, humbleness, respect, motivation, traditions of eating together, praying together, preparing together, getting right mentality before a big speech, project, meet, class together.  How often do people sit down together and eat, break bread, and enjoy the success and failures of a day?  if there is one thing I do not want to lose, is that aspect of what motivates us, what blesses us, what brings us together and what brings us to the point that respects the ability to do something great.  Just simply to know that possibility remains there, is enough to want to push towards a goal of being successful standing out, and wanting with those that want it to around me.

Call me old school, but I put alot of emphasis in what Cross Country provides, and can for a successful future.  What does that mean?  Life is unpredictable and I see Cross Country as an event that replicates what life can give you when you give it to cross country.  I believe:

You treat practices like life, no difference than a meet or the most important meet in the world – you give it your all, at practice, at meets, you never hold back to do better at that “next meet”, there might not be one.

You never isolate your teammates to go on their own – this means you support them when you are not running, when you are running, you simply show up.  The whole season.  Be it you are the number one runner, the last runner, or a non runner, everyone will have their moment in the sun if you are willing to give a part of that sun to another. As a teammate you are a teammate for the season, every practice, every meet, be it if you are a supporter, a participant, a coach, a manager, an athlete.  Simply being there, you are a part of the team, and nothing every takes that away.

You show up, and this means physically and mentally.  There is a moment where even when a word is not said among anyone, you can FEEL the momentum building as a team prepares for what could be their best moment. THEIR.  Meaning in it together.  Gone are the days of individuals that will not be there because they are not running, if I am on a team, I am on a team whether I am running, whether I am coaching, whether I am running, whether I am timing, whether I am scoring, visibility is everything.  In that process of this physicality, I am sending a message: I am with you thick and thin, and whatever goals you have, we will do together- whatever my role is, whatever my level of success, I am going to do this with you one way or another.  Period.  If someone, even ONE person is missing, are we a a team?  I need to know, to do my best, every single person has my back – is there is shouting for me, is not quiet when it is my turn in the light, is not absent, is not afraid to shy away when adversity rears its head, WE ARE THERE through snow, rain, cold, heat, bad days, good days, through thick and thin.  If not, we are no different than any other library, school, class, Open Mic, Cross Country Team, football team, or friendship.  

Being there through it all, amid a world that demands more more more and a busy schedule, whether in Mexico, in the United States, ANYWHERE, does seem on the way out and antiquated (meaning old school).   Yet, it has opened doors for me I never knew were a part of a house, so to speak, and it has been my salvation to learn to respect each other, learn to respect the process, and learn to respect the growth that happens inside me.  I believe this guides me and allows me to guide others to success, and does not rely on me alone.  Thanks to the personal, academic, athletic, financial, and other struggles, I have learned, despite the setbacks, and those very struggles that push back at this notion of each of us together is more important than one of us in success, yet – if I do not insist on this mantra, I see myself losing a part of who I am.

So I push forward and insist, when you do your own thing, in the light of those that surround you trying to do their thing among all of us, you are losing a part of yourself – you are making a statement saying “You do your thing, and I will do mine” and the team mantra, power of team that comes with individual success, loses a little more of its power.  I simply am not willing to lose any of its power, despite the excuses, plans, aches, pains we all feel, I relish those excuses, plans, aches, and pains when they are set aside to allow room for those that are willing to also set them aside for the sake of another, someone we consider our teammate.  That is true success – from beginning to end, and worth striving for every single day. 

It was a reality when I coached Cross Country at Seaford, and we are easily a standout without winning the top spots in Cross Country, yet plenty of individual growth and awards were achieved simply because we had a family behind us.  I feel the same when I have some amazingly spectacular colleagues and students that push back against those that do not feel the same, that  do not DO the3 same every day, and at the end of the year, month, meet, etc, you always remember those that stood behind you and supported you the whole time.  It motivates you to pick yourself up and be ready for when the next big obstacle occurs, it brings you together, and it lets everyone know you can do the next great thing, and you do not have to do it by yourself, it goes a much longer way than that one event, that one day, that one meet. 

Long term vision.  Is being there, sacrificing your own wants for another?  I have 47 years of life to tell you, it does.  I regret times where I did not sacrifice a personal moment for the time I could have been with others to push them ahead, that is what I have to offer others.  Some choose to buy into that mantra and practice, others do not, but I am stronger every day for those around me that realize they power in many and not just one. I want others to find this realization and escape the “hamster effect” of spinning in circles, when you can be making new circles with those you cherish most.





About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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