I cross the line and hear a roar from the crowd that reassures the doubts in my mind.
That was when I heard him say those three magical words: “new national record”, words we had been working all year to hear. We were a complete team, with no one part being lesser than the other is. There was an established order that no one argued against and everyone knew what their purpose and place was.
So let us start from the beginning of this simple, yet outrageous idea that would propel us into being one of the most successful high school track teams in state history. My freshman year was one full of watching and waiting. I took a class, which taught me that a successful business is one where everyone has the same goal and believes in the same idea. In the book, Good to Great, the concept of promoting from within is very popular, and that is exactly what happened to me.
I started as the worst athlete on the entire team, but one thing set me apart from the others and that was my drive. I did not like to be very vocal but I loved to succeed, and more than anything, I wanted to see people in the program succeed. Within the level five leaders, the team continuously saw the drive they had to make their entire companies great and not just themselves. I strongly related to this concept of “drive for the overall team”.
I was tirelessly working my butt off to become one of the top four hurdlers so I could join the relay. I spent all my nights researching successful hurdlers and learning every little thing I could about them that might have made them better. One day, I made a small change in my hurdling form, and it was enough to catch the eye of my head coach. Finally, my sophomore year, the coach placed me into my first hurdle relay in the last meet of the year, and I did amazing. Amazing was actually not that good for a regular person, but for me it was the turnaround I was waiting for.
All of the sudden, two freshmen joined in on my way of training and we created a group chat to talk about the latest stats and techniques. I could see them starting to believe in the same things I believed in. During this slow transition, my best friend and I saw the stat for the national record. I wrote it down on a piece of a paper and brought it to school the next day. I spent my entire junior year with that time in my head and the team on my mind. We were the top team in the state and some of us were not satisfied.
The leaders we read about would make drastic moves because they believed it would be for the better of the company. One of those moves we have seen by successful leaders is to choose the right people for the job. My senior year started amazing, with my best friend, two great underclassmen, and me. All of us loved the sport and contributed in any way we could. During this time, my best friend explained to the team that we did not need to worry about the national record, because we are already in a good enough position.
The rest of us immediately recognized the strength of belief was not there for him and he wanted to settle. That was the moment we collectively saw he was not the best fit for our team, and he needed to be replaced. We all liked and saw him as a good team member, but others wanted to succeed and join the team, and they believed in the improvement of the team.
My best friend was off the hurdle team and it was not easy to talk to him about the goal anymore because he lost the drive to succeed. A younger hurdler, who was a little faster, but not as technically sound in his form wanted to join the team. He raced in junior varsity and never seemed to fit the part, until he came on board with us. The day before nationals, we all came together and I thanked the entire team who trained with me, because they made our belief a possibility.
The positive response back was overwhelming and gave me the confidence I needed. The next day our lead off leg ran the fastest time of his life, and then second leg tripped and almost fell. Even though he tripped, it seemed as if nothing could faze him, and then the third leg ran his last race ever. It was his best of all time and we caught the team in first. I was in the anchor position, and the moment I dreamt about for years was finally a reality. The entire stadium was quiet, and in my head, I heard nothing until the announcer said those great words: “new national record”.
We had set up a domino line and we knocked over the first domino together. After winning that race, the team won three more races that year, and I left knowing the team was better than it was before.
After my team left school, the next team made it better than we could have ever expected. They continue to win at least six national races a year and continue a tradition of success, attributed to striving to succeed, and not just mere talent. The culture of the program is to continue what we created and to make it greater for those behind them.