During a recent command physical training session, I had the pleasure of running with one of our many talented young Sailors. As I grow older my definition of young changes and in this case I mean 19 years old (he has since turned 20). We conversed as he pulled me along “The Chip Trail” at Corry Station. The conversation was enjoyable and as we neared the home stretch he began to challenge me by picking up the pace. As our speed increased, he shared with me his personal philosophy, which he simply called “Finish Strong.”
What started simply as a mutual desire to physically challenge ourselves, quickly evolved into much more. He shared with me how over the course of his life he has migrated toward a mantra of “Finish Strong”, how those two words now drive him in every way, and how he has started many things in life too slowly and therefore realizing less success than he would like.
Given the age of this young man, I was blown away by the message, as well as the passionate and articulate way in which he communicated it. We challenged ourselves and though we did “Finish Strong”, we were both well aware that we hadn’t finished anything. We were merely off to tackle the next evolution in life with the same sense of urgency, level of effort and commitment to excellence we demonstrated during our run.
I believe most of us go through life without a personal philosophy and I know I did not truly identify and commit to mine until I was roughly 30. Those who know me might say that my actions demonstrated a commitment to a personal philosophy long before that, but I must admit any correlation was merely coincidence. The fact that this 19 year old had already turned the corner impressed me tremendously.
Since that run, each time our paths cross I greet this Sailor with a simple “Finish Strong” to which he replies “Always do, Sir.” The first thing this young man feels as though he has deliberately started with all his might is his service in the U.S. Navy. Given the pace with which his Navy journey began, I look forward to seeing how he finishes and I welcome the opportunity to sweep and block for him along the way.
Last weekend as I reached the back-stretch of the Pensacola Half Marathon, I replayed the very run I shared with this young man and that memory demanded that I did in fact “Finish Strong.”