Nature & Health, December - January 2008

As a young boy with a talent for swimming, Pablo Morales wanted to be an Olympic champion, and he pursued his dream with long hours of arduous training. In 1984, as his hand hit the wall of the Los Angeles Olympic pool and he looked up at the scoreboard, suddenly his dream was shattered. He had come second. 

Bitterly disappointed, but also determined to win that gold medal, Morales committed to another four years of training for the 1988 Olympics. However, this time he didn't even qualify for the American team. Devastated he walked away from swimming; for the next three years he studied instead, successfully completing a law degree. 

Yet Morales found that his dream of winning Olympic gold would not die. And when most people would have given up and accepted their fate, Morales decided with just on short year to go before the 1992 Olympics, that he would give that medal another go. He was 27 years old, and he no longer had the fitness level of the teenagers he was competing against, but he gave it everything he had. In 1992, against all odds, Morales realised his dream of winning the Olympic gold medal for the 100 metres butterfly race. 

How many of us would have Morales' vision, courage, and dogged determination to persevere and succeed? To keep pursuing a dream, even though year after year, it just became more elusive? I often think of this story when I'm feeling discouraged. Sometimes the pressure of running my own business is enough to make me want to dive under the donna, and not come out all day. (And let's be honest, sometimes I have done just that.) However, I have my own vision for my life, and it's compelling enough to keep me 'in the pool'. 

Morales' story reminds us that it's possible to push through the pain barrier of these challenging days. There's a big difference between walking away when you know you've done everything in your power to achieve a goal, and giving up before you've had that one last shot at it. By staying focused - even if all you're capable of doing is treading water and staying in the same spot until you fill stronger - you give your dreams a chance to unfold before your eyes. 

Remember how, as a child, you were taught that if you were ever caught in a rip at the beach, just to stay calm and go with it, not to fight it? The same is true with life. Difficult times pass, tides turn, things change. And if you're still hanging in there, you've got a stronger chance of getting over that finish line on your next attempt.