Sunday, June 7, 2015

Where Success Comes From

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past two days, you must have heard the wonderful news.

The 37-year dry spell since horseracing's last Triple Crown victory is over. American Pharoah won it all!

And just in case you missed how it all played out, here's what went down:



Did you hear the roar of crowd at the end of the race? Did you see them? That's the kind of reaction that brings tears to your eyes and a hitch to your voice. Because that's a lot of people witnessing something they weren't sure they would ever see again.

And I was one of them.

When American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby, I was skeptical. There are so many good horses this year, I said. I just don't see a single Triple Crown winner emerging from that pack of talent.

Then I saw him win the Preakness two weeks later as I was packing my suitcase to leave Dallas after attending the RT Booklovers Convention. I saw him running mired ankle deep in mud in a downpour, and watched as he pulled away and left the field in his wake. I still wasn't entirely convinced, but now he had my attention.

It wasn't until I saw American Pharoah gallop to a commanding victory in the Belmont on Saturday that it reaffirmed something that I already knew in my gut but may have lost sight of in recent months.

Because, you see, there were a lot of people besides me--people who are considered experts--who doubted him. They said American Pharoah wouldn't do it. That he couldn't do it. That he would never achieve his goal.

They gave a lot of reasons, like:

  • He wasn't bred to run this distance.
  • He didn't inherit the right traits. 
  • He'd never run fast enough times. 
  • He'd hadn't faced this much competition. 
  • He'd never been tested at this level. 
  • He'd be too tired from his grueling race schedule. 
  • That it's become impossible to win the Triple Crown.

But as he was blazing down the homestretch of the Belmont Stakes, none of that mattered. Because what American Pharoah does have is "heart." An elusive quality that comes not from genetics, stamina or experience, but from somewhere deep inside the individual. It can't be seen in photographs and it can't be determined with a stopwatch, statistics or pedigrees.

I think as writers we need to develop our own brand of "heart." We need to ignore the people and the little voices in our head who tell us we can't succeed, and do it anyway.

Because success comes from within.

American Pharoah portrait from his Facebook page


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