Sunday, 23 August 2009

A Teacher of Light


Usain Bolt, the unbelievable athlete has done it again! Not only did he make a new world record for running the 100 metre sprint in just 9.58 seconds, but this past week, he added to this by breaking (his own) new world record for the 200 metre sprint in just 19.19 seconds. For those mathematicians out there, he managed to achieve the 200 metre sprint in just 3/100 of a second slower relative to his 100 metre sprint. For those not mathematically inclined, he was able to run the 200 metre sprint at roughly the exact same speed as he ran the 100 metre – an achievement very few could ever perform. Some of us manage to "keep our breath" for just a certain time, but trying to maintain the same standard for double the distance takes real doing!

So, Mr Lighting Bolt (Flash?) is better than the best – even when the best was himself! In a previous article we looked at how much we can learn from such a focused ray of light. But, with a new outstanding achievement, what more can we learn?

For one as focused as a laser beam in achieving his goal, distances small or large are equal. There's really no reason to feel that one can only go so far at a certain speed. In fact, the more focused one is at one's task, the more likely it is that one can maintain the same speed – even when the road seems longer. There's no reason to quit just because one has past the 100 metre finish line. There's still a 200 metre point, and 400M and 800M and…

Does Mr Bolt deserve all the credit though? Is it possible that there were others who helped him achieve his phenomenal results? Those reading this might think the question preposterous! Everyone can see – he did it… *on his own!* Or did he?

A brief reading of Usain's life reveals that by the age of 12 he was already the fastest runner (for the 100 metre sprint) at his school. It was, however, a cricket coach of Usain's that noticed his awesome speed. He was playing cricket – not running, when someone from the outside noticed his speed. Of course, Usain may well have become the next best thing in cricket… Then again, he may well have only ended up quite mediocre. But someone from the outside saw something different. He saw – not a cricket player – but a runner… a sprinter. He urged Usain to focus on track events – not cricket!

Then there were another two outstanding athletes involved in Usain's story. Pablo McNeil (a previous 100 metres Olympic athlete), and Dwayne Barett coached Bolt. McNeil became his main coach – though was a little frustrated with Bolt's lack of dedication to athletics, being more interested in practical jokes. (Perhaps Bolt could even have become the next best comedian, made it to Hollywood, become an actor in comedy or the like, and made a success this way!)

There were quite a number of other amazing people involved in coaching Mr Bolt, ultimately making him into the success he has become. Outstanding to himself – and outstanding to the world.

Where does this leave us?! It seems that our success is divided. It's made up of ourselves as well as those who recognise in us the greatness that we really possess. Everyone needs a teacher!

Imagine, Mr Bolt could have become a comedian… He could also have become a cricketer. As far as *he* was concerned, athletics, when he was much younger, didn't mean quite as much to him as it probably does today. His real greatness though – as can be seen retroactively – lay in his phenomenal running speed. It was something that only someone else could see though.

In fact, this is a great lesson in life. Each of us possesses tremendous talents in a variety of areas. We are also surrounded by a variety of other people who are constantly taking part in our lives (teachers?) This should not surprise us, as likewise, we too take part in the lives of countless others, each and every day. Our task is to be able to excel in life – to become who we really are. We can all be comedians at some time in our life, cricket players, football players, miniature-golf players too… but these may not be the talents we are most set up to excel in. Parents may think we're terrific miniature-golf players, but will this be best for us when we're trying to become the great people we are – in those areas we are greatest in?

Usain Bolt is not Mr Lightning Bolt for nothing. His name reveals far more about life than his speed. Light, shining from a large source – such as the sun – goes everywhere. It is able to warm the world in general and bring happiness to many. But when that same light is focused (correctly!) into a thin laser beam, with all of it's power in one line, it becomes a most powerful weapon to burn through material it could never have dreamt of had it been stuck in the sun! Usain's lesson for us all is the power of that laser beam. The power of being focused – "on track!"

But it doesn't come of it's own. It comes through the motivation and encouragement of everyone around us. When those around us see in us our true potential and support us – even when all we seem to be doing all day is just "running around", then we are able to become someone truly great in the world! Truly great – in whatever area we are best suited to.

While this is an important lesson for each of us to know regarding how others should interact with us so that we can become great, we can take it into ourselves – to see the greatness that lies in others. Everyone has a laser beam just bursting to shine its light into something, to make something in this world even greater and better! But being young, immature, and perhaps not knowledgeable enough, we might not be able to express ourselves correctly. What's needed is for someone else to come around and point it out to us. Not to just point it out, but to make it happen. Our job then is to see this bursting light in others, and to bring it out into the forefront.

Most of the worlds greatest of the great have become what they did because they had a teacher behind them, coaching them along the way. This person may have been greater, but very often was not. He was just someone who could see the greatness of the other, to help him draw out of himself what was resting their all along.

Our job is to be prepared to be the "coach" for every other single person in this world, whenever they need it – to make them realise their greatness, and to help them along until they reach it. And even when it seems that we know better than they what is good for them, our job is to still see the greatness and talent that *they* have – and to support them in that. Once the support is given in the direction most suited for the individual, he will shine outwards – not with the power of the sun, but with the power of a laser beam. Through this, the awesome warmth that will be created in the world will far outshine the sun. From the rays of light floating everywhere, there will be focused light everywhere, with not just those "closest to the sun" enjoying it's warmth, but rather every single person will gain from every other – each contributing what they are best at, and ultimately lighting up the entire world with goodness and kindness.

It can take a Bolt of Lightning to teach us this lesson. It can take a flash of light. It can take the sensitivity of another to simply be there for another, encouraging, supporting and helping them to grow and become the great person that they really are.

Not for nothing did the wisest of all men – King Solomon state – "Teach a child according to his way. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it."

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