Monday, October 5, 2009

On Winning 8th Place...

Yesterday, I rowed in a Men's eight at the Riverfront Recapture Regatta in Hartford, CT on the lovely Connecticut River. This is now the 3rd largest one-day regatta in the U.S. with over 1,500 rowers. The photo on the left is of a Norwalk River Rowing Assn. men's eight from a previous year (I'm second from the top).

We had a beautiful, clear day with temps in the 60's and little wind-- perfect conditions for rowing. The 3.2 mile course was upriver against the current. Our Norwalk River Rowing Association eight rowed the course in little over 24 minutes, good for 8th place out of 10 men's eights.

Because we're used to finishing higher in the pecking order, some of us were disappointed with our finish position. However, upon reflection I realized that we all rowed as hard as we could, as well as we could, and were exhausted by the end. In rowing lingo, "we gave it 100%, leaving nothing on the water."

So why the disappointment? I think it had to do with our expectations. In the past, we had finished nearer the top rather than the bottom. Therefore, we expected to finish higher. Our expectations went unfulfilled.

A rowing race is a good metaphor for life. Sometimes, even though we work hard and do our best, we come in 8th place. While we should be content to have done our best, it turns out that others' bests are better than ours. This is no reason to feel disappointed or discouraged. This is life.

It is difficult to not evaluate ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. Yet, if we are to enjoy life and thrive, we need to stop living by comparing ourselves to others. The only comparison that matters is self-comparison. And when we've done our best, it's good and right to affirm that our best is good enough.

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