Coming From Behind to Win

By Doug Armey

Our first race was a disaster. Weird wind shifts, boat interference and some less than sterling decisions.  At one point we were eighth and finally squeaked out fifth.   Ugh.  We needed a first or second this race to stay in the competition of the two day sailing regatta.

Our start was decent but quickly we were trapped in the middle of a group of boats some of which, by design, were faster.  As they crept ahead it fouled our wind causing us to slow down.  Yet, we couldn’t turn off without falling completely behind the pack.  We fought this all the way up the lake to the far mark where we were in fifth place in our class.

“We’ve got to catch this up somehow,” I said to the others.  “We’ve got to focus and sail perfectly.”

After rounding the mark we headed down the lake with our spinnaker flying looking like a multicolored parachute stretching out in front.  I was flying it, which with 140 other boats in the race in a narrow lake makes things pretty exciting.

Occasionally, I’d glance at the other boats only to have the chute start to collapse and Bill, our skipper, yell, “Doug, watch the chute!”  Oops, back to concentration.

By the time we came down the lake to the next mark, where we doused our spinnaker, we had moved to second place.

Now, it was a leg across the lake. Jerry sailed just in front and Ruth just behind, two of the best sailors in our class in the country.  The concentration was intense.  Continual sail adjustments as the winds constantly shifted.

When we rounded that mark we had gained first with Jerry right on our stern three feet away.  We went wide, he went narrow and got above us blocking our wind.  He fought with us for position so intensely he allowed Ruth to move into first.  We were now back in third as we rounded the final mark to head for the finish line.

Ruth and Jerry battled each other toward the shore and light wind.  We stayed out of the fray and sailed into the middle of the lake where the wind was stronger.

I said to Bill and Jason, “Forget about them.  Don’t chase them.  Let’s sail our own race.  We need to stay focused and sail without a mistake.”

Suddenly, the two lead boats realized where we were.  They called off their battle and headed towards us to engage.  By the time they reached us Ruth crossed our stern ten feet behind.  Then we simply stayed in front of them blocking their ability to get good wind and crossed the finish line first.  What an epic battle which set us up to take third in the regatta.

After the race, I thought about how those setbacks were a lot like life. Everything is going well only to run into a roadblock.  We get hit by things we don’t expect and sometimes can’t change immediately.

It can cause us to worry and complain, “Why me.  What did I do to deserve this?  Why now?

Or we look around at others and think, “They’re so lucky.  Why can’t I be like them?”

But this freezes us into inaction.  We become so obsessed with the setback we miss the new opportunities.

I love what Paul wrote, “I forget what’s behind and strain toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize which God has called me to.”

What a great image of a runner focused only on the tape and the prize.

Jack Canfield says, “Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them.  They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.”

Our choice, in the inevitable setbacks, is whether we get caught up in the worry or stay focused on the solution.  One turns a setback into failure.  The other turns it into opportunity.

Some things that I stay focused on that help me.

I focus on what I’ve done before that was successful. Often getting back to the basics helps me work my way out of the current challenges.  It gets my mind off the problems I can’t control and back onto the things I can.  This reduces the stress levels, clarifies my thinking, and gets some proactive steps started.

I also focus on my goals. Instead of becoming overcome by the problems, I fill my mind with the goals and dreams I’m passionate about.  Sometimes those goals may change.  Challenges can cause me to reevaluate what I’m working toward.  Often the goals, as they’re clarified, become even more important.  And as I focus on them I become reenergized and enthused.

And I focus on God’s promises of his love, care and guidance. I work hard but I realize it’s still God’s blessings not my spectacular abilities that will bring the abundance I desire.  This keeps me calm in the midst of the storms.  And in that serenity God guides me into his amazing gifts.

Are you caught in some tough winds? Are you needing a come from behind win?  Remember the race isn’t over til it’s over.

What do you stay focused on?  What helps you in the setbacks?

If this post has helped you please let me know.  And please subscribe if you haven’t already and share it with a friend.  I appreciate it.

Important Disclosures:

Douglas Armey, the LPL Financial adviser associated with this website, practices in Fresno, California and may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the following states:  California, Idaho, Arizona and Oregon.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance reference is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

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