#41: A doer of extraordinary things?

Two years ago, I decided to challenge our staff to write down what they “wanted to be when they grew up”….i.e. what their personal mission was.  Although I’m never sure how much others get out of my crazy ideas….it was a great exercise for me. After really thinking about it, I could only come up with a few simple unwavering ideas, a platform for my envisioned life:

1. I want to be a doer…….i.e. not a talker, not a dreamer, not an empty promise-r, and not a spectator.  I want to be about action.

2. of extraordinary things…….I love achievement…..personally of course, but even more, I love watching others develop and complete things that they weren’t sure was possible.  Although I don’t believe that there are truly “extraordinary people” (i.e. somehow gifted with tools others just didn’t get), I deeply believe that if you want it bad enough and are willing to work at it long enough, ANYONE can do extraordinary things…….and although I’m not sure most folks share that philosophy (despite what mounting research on the subject of human achievement says) I set out to prove it through my actions……and maybe here and there inspire others to push themselves a little bit.

This week, which was to be my first of 6 getting ready for Virginia Beach 1/2 Marathon, started on track, but came to a close whipping around emotional twists and turns, highs and lows. Although it never came completely off the rails, was a great chance for me to stop, think back to my personnel mission and reflect; To think about what’s important, about where I’ll be if I get to 93 and whether I’m on track or need to redirect.

Seems like heavy stuff, where is this all coming from?

Coming off of the high of the R2C relay and being part of a team of seven that placed in the top 20 was great; inspiring even, as it gave me another shot in the arm as to what’s possible.  I tend to be a “visually dominant” person where if I can “see it” (even in my mind’s eye), I am much more likely to do it.  So seeing my teammates push a pace that seemed unreasonable for most “normal humans” only days before was great for me.

As the week progressed and the responsibilities of regular life swelled back up, I was able to squeeze in some training (easy bike/run on Sunday, swim on Monday, tempo run on Wed).  Not as many running miles as I wanted to (10-ish) leading up to Thursday’s kick off of the Red-iculous Relay ( #RedRelay), our 2nd annual all human-power traverse of NJ, and the +/- 40 miles on the bike and 8 running that I would eventually get in…….and then one of those perspective moments:

Got word that my Grandfather, Joeseph Eisenhart (93) had a health setback and the news wasn’t good.  Of course any health issue in a person of that age is taken seriously and knowing (just a little too much perhaps) about the nature of the issue, had a feeling that it might not turn out well.  So Thursday evening, after the first 80 miles of the Red-iculous Relay (23-ish mine),  spoke briefly with my Dad, who would be heading out of town to be with my Granddad.  As if this wasn’t enough, just before heading out on Friday evening to catch up with the team, I got a dreadful email about a 34 year old at a client workplace that had suffered a fatal heart-attack…..34 YEARS OLD!  Horrifically sad.

All through Friday evening and Saturday as we leap-frogged the state (“Crewing” as Nick puts it) we got updates about my Granddad’s declining condition….the grim task of waiting for what seems inevitable.  Moments like this force you to think……and although there could be no better distraction than doing something truly extraordinary like the #RedRelay with friends, the emotional highs of the event, were met with the lateral force of mixed emotions…..sadness in the notion that a great person who I love very much will be gone soon, but happiness for him that he will be moving on from this world to the next.  There is no doubt in my mind that if heaven exists (which I believe to be the case), Joeseph Eisenhart has earned his way in.  

I will remember his gentle and loving nature, his deep and genuine interest in everything and anything that was important to us growing up and most of all his wisdom.  My granddad is an incredibly thoughtful person, encouraging us, largely through his actions, to have high moral standards and do right, not just well.  Never loud and although I’m sure not the case always, patient beyond the norm.  Although being 1200 miles away made personal visits few and far between, he would often send me news clippings gently encouraging me that our small-business dreams were on the right track.  We would trade emails now and again and he always took time wish my growing family well and to give us an update on the various plants that we had sent were flourishing.  At 90+ I can only hope to remember what someone gave me two years prior, but he did and even though his body failed him, he always had a loving thought and kind word to share.

And so……

I have had plenty to celebrate this week:

  • another successful completion of the #RedRelay in the books (great job Chris, Tim, Mike W, Nick, Alissa, Erin, Eric, Wandy, Connie, Patti, Wes, Mark, Justin, Renee, Lindsay, and families) 
  • my first Coached Triathlete completed her event without injury and in the top 3rd of the field (YEAH Sonia)
  • a few strong runs and bikes as well as some minor, but notable progress in swim mechanics and
  • continued progress for Pro-Activity as we chip away at our vision of helping people put the pieces in place to achieve.

But I start this new week conflicted: Knowing that I’ll be making an unexpected trip to Florida likely sooner rather later is not something I’m looking forward to.  Experiencing the pain, both personally and that shared with family members is a really hard part of life.  Knowing that despite how hard we try, and how many successes we have been involved with, we can’t reach everyone and that we didn’t make enough of an impact on someone at a client workplace to change his habits and pave the way for a full life is gut wrenching.

And so, I wish for myself and anyone who has taken a minute to read this blog (thanks again btw, I’m closing in on 3000 hits…..not quite the same fanfare Jeter got…..but still fun and a little surprising) that we don’t get so caught up in the day-to-day that we forget that life really can be short and sometimes fragile; and despite the attempts of people to find the fountain of youth our time here is finite.  

I apologize if this is a bit of a downer of a blog-post this week.  I hope that whatever your personal mission is, you’re living it.

Recommitted to the mission,

Mike E.