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Dare to Be First

Every morning is another entry in the horse race.

We saddle up, mount up and step into the gate.

Side by side, we wait. The stink of nervous energy permeates the starting line.

Waiting for the bell, all that separates us from the competition are a few rusty iron bars and a lifetime of expectation.

Then the silence hits…

…one heartbeat,

…two heartbeats,

…then three.

The world is still moving, and the crowd is still cheering, but we hear none of it. To us, there is only silence.

This is the deafening quiet of anticipation.

Then…

Bang!

Growing up 30 minutes from Saratoga Race Course, “The Track,” horse racing is part of who I am; it’s in my blood.

At 42 years old, I still get giddy on the quick drive up the Northway, just as I did when I was a child. I’ve witnessed hundreds, if not thousands, of horse races.

Every race excites my soul.

Tourists and locals who don’t frequent the Track don’t understand. They think it’s about gambling (or worse, winning money…ha!)

However, for me, the Track has nothing to do with gambling (although I love gambling) and is only partially about the horses.

The beauty of horse racing is recognizing the moment a horse decides to finish first.

Yes, decides.

The jockey plays a role in every run, but the jockey’s job is to put the horse in position. The horse has to decide to finish first.

This moment is electric. It’s flow. It’s life in its purest sense.

The ears pin back.

The head pushes down.

The gait changes.

The path becomes determined.

Whether a maiden claimer or a Grade I veteran, this horse has decided to be first on this day.

It’s beautiful.

For some, the desire to finish first lives deep within passed along bloodlines, waiting for a moment and desire.

Others do not. They run. They run the race, and with the right jockey, conditions, and competition, they may win.

For these horses, their small and infrequent victories are not the result of will or determination… but a gait draw and circumstance.

In this capacity, I believe humans differ from horses.

It’s not in our bloodlines to finish first.

It’s in our minds. Each individual mind. Yours. Mine. All of us.

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We must dare to be first.

Every morning, we step into the starting gate.

What happens next is our choice.

…to step forward

…to take charge.

…to decide to be first.

Or we let Fate decide.

Are you running to run or running to win?

Look in the mirror. You will see the answer. It will be staring back at you.

Trite? Maybe.

The truth? Absolutely.

I follow a lot of successful people online:

It’s the same story over and over again. At some point, they decided to push ahead of the pack. Their tactics and strategies, to a person, are different.

The decision to win is the binding string between them (and every successful person I’ve ever met, followed, or heard speak).

We must dare to be first.

This is the way.

Simple, not easy.

The Rub

Maybe I’m talking to myself.

Maybe this article is a journal entry that should have been kept private.

I’m sure you’ve read something like this before…hundreds of times.

Truthfully, I feel guilty about the comfort of my lifestyle.

I should be pushing harder at work, at fitness, and at my personal growth.

  • Am I disciplined enough?
  • Do I have the conviction?
  • Can I persevere?

The Universe wants to grind us down, but I refuse to acquiesce.

I refuse to be mediocre, just another guy who tried to do a thing but didn’t have the balls to go all the way.

I want to create something they write songs about.

It’s silly, I know. But these are my demons.

…and when I’m racing ahead, disciplined and determined, they struggle to keep up.

I’m no psychologist, but I know we all live with demons. What those demons hate more than anything is the moment we decide to take control of our destiny.

When we dare to be first.

When we decide to have the audacity to believe we’re worthy.

Then, like the Thoroughbreds, we are… Take Action!

…and on the idea of taking action, I’m going to leave you with this great quote from Robert Ringer, author of Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves:

I am absolutely convinced that neither success nor happiness is possible without action… Ideas can be precious commodities that can change the world. Sound preparation is invaluable, and knowledge and wisdom are essential when it comes to giving one an edge in the pursuit of great achievements.

But ideas, preparation, knowledge and wisdom are all but useless without action because action is the starting point of all progress. In other words, an idea of and by itself has no intrinsic value. It must be accompanied by action. It is action that cuts the umbilical cord and brings an idea out of the womb.

Defy your demons.

Take action.

I’m here if you need me…

Hanley

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