In 490BC, a Greek messenger, Pheidippides ran from the Greek city of Marathon to Athens to deliver a message that the Persian Army had been defeated by the Greek army. The total distance between the two cities was approximately 26.2 miles. Unfortunately, Pheidippides died after delivering the message thus the origin of Marathons.

Pheidippides death on arrival can be attributed to lack of preparation for the long haul. He had his mind set on his goals, met his goals but did not have life to reap its benefits.

I can relate a lot to this story today because I felt like Pheidippides last year (2019). I met almost every major goal I set my mind up to achieve. Yet, in spite of all this, I was crushed, bruised, broken and stretched on every side so much so that I desired the ultimate sentence of Pheidippides. In those moments, met goals meant nothing to me. For behind the façade was someone who had hit the wall.

The greatest takeaways from these downtimes were not just the lessons learnt, but how their application this year can make a world of difference. Below are a few of them.

1. Prepare -: 

There are little or no casualties in current day marathons. And this can be attributed to preparation. Preparation enables you to work now with the end in view. Pheidippides could have survived if he was forward-thinking. Forward thinking people position themselves to be the best in their field of endeavor. He wasn’t ready for the stress of the journey ahead and paid with his life. Preparation allows you to anticipate the battles ahead and strategize which one to take first and how to win each battle. In preparation, you will have to dream and set realistic goals. For a dream without a goal is dead on arrival.  

2. Talk -: 

Find people you can trust to share your best and worst moments with. People who believe in you and can hold you accountable for your actions and inactions. People you can comfortably “cry on” if you have to. I learnt that sometimes all you need to carry you through the next challenge is to cry the old away. In my worst times in 2019, what kept me going were friends and family who called constantly to find out how I was doing. Some saw right through the masquerade, others listened as I kept ranting and the warmth from the rest was a source of encouragement that everything will be alright. 

3. Live in the moment -:

One of the rewards of life are memories. So you always want to make sure you have good ones. Because memories will stay with you forever. Life always presents us with spontaneous unassuming rays of warmth to keep us going daily. And if you look hard enough you will find them. One such moment was the final three weeks leading to our first semester examinations. 

In that space of time, we had been to the University of Waterloo for four days (for a design thinking class). We had about three essays from eleven different case analysis  to present (two for Innovation processes and management and one for marketing). We also had two different final project presentations, a rocket pitch, a marketing analysis report and a business plan to submit. The entire MTEI class of 2021 was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. Then just in the spur of the moment Laura, a classmate leaves an honest message on the notice board in the Graduate Students Lounge (image in post), that sends us smiling and talking, providing the extra spark needed to carry us through. That moment for me, was enough motivation to carry me through the rest of the semester.   

4. Pursue peace -:

You cannot hold on to anything you have in this world if you don’t have peace. Choose your battles wisely. Know when to fight and when to let go. Know when to speak and when to be silent. Anything honest result achieved in peace can be can be achieved again. You never really lose anything that you let go in peace. 

Protect your peace of mind, stay in it and run away from anything or person that threatens it.   

2020 will be an awesome year, especially for all who are ready for the marathon ahead. Share your views on the benefits of the lessons you learnt in 2019 and why you think they can be a game changers in 2020.

Robert Currie O. Afari