Pursuing your passion, American 800 meter runner Nick Symmonds displays that. Let me tell you a little about him. And maybe why you need to follow his lead
At age 29, he is a professional track athlete, specializing in the 800 meter run (two times around a standard track). He is lucky enough to travel the world doing a sport. While he is a “professional” in name just like football, basketball and baseball players he does not command the million-dollar pay that they do. But that is the lot of a track runner. He is lucky – he is pursuing his passion, running – for a living.
But he is more than that. He is an outspoken advocate for American track athletes in their constant quest for adequate funding. Most “professional” track athletes do not make enough money to live off their skill. So they hold “real” jobs while competing around the world. The bureaucratic USA Track and Field Federation holds all of the rules and regulations. And like any power-hungry bureaucracy with little to do, it protects its turf very closely. Athletes may only wear certain clothing. They may not display logos of non-approved vendors. On and on. Symmonds takes a lead role in trying to point out this inequity. In the meantime, he is a businessman, selling himself and the companies that sponsor him.
He is also a leader. At the World Championships last week in Moscow, I heard a couple interviews where athletes mentioned him. In one case, the youngest American runner commented on how Symmonds was encouraging her and providing support. This made her feel like part of the team. Another athlete mentioned she had breakfast with him “most days”. He encouraged her to “go for it” and “not hold back” in the races. She felt his encouragement helped her racing confidence.
Nick had the opportunity to write blogs post for the most well-known running magazine in the US, Runners’ World. The posts were well-written and covered a broad spectrum of issues. He talked about his own preparation. He talked about the Russian law that forbids homosexuality and his position on it. It displayed a thoughtful person who is articulate and cares about important issues.
Think about someone you know who is not happy where they are but unwilling to pursue their passion. We all know someone like that – it probably is or was us! Life is too short to sit back, “trapped” in a place where we do not want to be. But it is very hard to imagine a world where we are not where we are now. That fear of the unknown is so strong. We all have strengths. I’m gonna guess that it is not world-class running ability. Perhaps it is the capability to inspire others. Maybe it is being an advocate for others. Maybe you have multiple passions that you can combine. Is your passion the place you are at now? Think about it. Act on it.