“Aim for progress, not perfection.”
I posted this Aha Moment last May 2019 on Facebook. I was feeling sad that I could not run just yet to prepare for the Berlin Marathon, my first world marathon ever, slated on September 29. I could not run for the whole of May because of the Plantar Fasciitis I developed through 4 years of running. This condition is typically caused by strain injury that leads to inflammation of the foot causing it and the heel to inflame. It’s painful when it’s overused and its only cure is time. As they say: “Time heals all wounds”. With this condition, I needed to focus on therapy and cross-sport training like diverting my energy to swimming or biking to ensure strengthening. With this hump on the road, I had two choices: stay down and be sad or get up and slowly progress. For a cancer warrior and survivor like me, I had been programmed to focus on progress and not perfection.
Practice makes us better. To aim for perfection is not only an uphill battle, it also steals our joy in the journey whether in sport or in life.
Your greatest challenge in life may just be your best blessing.
I was 27 years old when cancer struck me. While I was going through my chemotherapy sessions for a year, I reflected that I had two roads to choose: either give up or stand up. Through my family’s unconditional love and support, I realized that being a cancer warrior became one of the blessings in my life. I saw the purpose in the circumstances: by sharing my story with others, true healing began and friendships with other survivors blossomed.
Part of my healing journey then was to start short distance running and I grew loving it. More than 3 years ago, running inspired me to train to become a triathlete. I never thought I could be active in any sport given my sedentary lifestyle but each time I’d finish a tough race and cross that finish line, I would often be in tears celebrating my second chance in life. I realized that the purpose of life’s challenges is to make us stronger in faith, hope, and love. Now that my mind and heart are set to accomplish the Berlin Marathon on September, I get inspiration from my Smile Train Foundation family. Smile Train Foundation who gave me the opportunity to run for Berlin as I raise funds for free surgeries for kids born with cleft lips and palates. With their constant motivation and guidance, both Kimmy Flaviano and Julie Bengis from Smile Train have been instrumental to my journey amidst this hump in the road.
Always look ahead and focus on growth.
Looking back, 2015 was a memorable turning point for me. There were 3 trigger points which helped me start my triathlon journey. The first was when I woke up one morning of May 2015 and remembered that I was turning 40 years old soon! People say that life begins at 40, but at that moment, I was worried. I thought, “I don’t consider myself healthy, and am very sedentary. I don’t want to get old too fast, too soon.”
The second trigger point was when Wowie, my husband, gave me a step tracker as a gift back in August 2015. I never thought I could actually do 8,000-10,000 steps in a day. With my profession in People Ignite as a facilitator and trainer, standing up and walking around are part of my work, but I never track the steps I make when in sessions. I thought, “Wow! Tracking my steps is fun!” I noticed that I was becoming a lot happier and more positive during the days that I would choose to move more and track my activities.
The third trigger was when the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) launched the iHEART run led by the association’s Wellness Committee last September 19, 2015. That was my first run race ever. I took the risk of signing up for a 10k run with the intent of supporting PMAP, but I was actually nervous if I will survive that distance. My good friend Gail Consolacion, who started her triathlon journey in 2013, ran along with me. She saw my struggle at my 6k distance, so she taught me how to breathe and pace properly. Through her encouragement and push, I crossed the iHeart finish line gasping for air and barely surviving. It never crossed my mind that it would be the start of my many finish lines.
Looking back, I would not have achieved finishing two IM70.3 without these trigger points – they led to my gradual transformation towards a growth mindset – from someone too sedentary in life (with zero sport in my blood!) to becoming progressively active and more alive!
Your “what I want to be” is your trigger point to aim for goals, but it’s really your big Why that will sustain you in the journey.
I was never sporty and did not join any sports league in my entire school life. I was not even physically active, and I was one person who hated going to the gym. But you know what? I realized that I set so many limits and boundaries of what I cannot do, and that became my own roadblock in my life. When I welcomed the idea of celebrating life and trying something I thought I could not do, I decided to just let go, drop my defenses, and just do it! With the help of people who believed in what I can do, I surprised myself. My “what I want to be” grew in my heart: I want to pursue triathlon.
I wanted to see myself able to do 3 sports: swim, bike, and run. This triggered me to manage my time: as a wife, mom, People Igniter, and as a triathlete. But what truly sustains me is my why I do it. I do it because I hope to inspire a person battling with cancer to say, “If she can do it, I can too!”
If I can spark hope in one person, then my why is fulfilled.
JV Wong has been the President and Chief Executive Igniter of People Ignite for 13 years. She is a speaker, facilitator, and writer on aspects of purpose development, vision-mission-values creation, strategic business planning workshops, leadership, and Communication Master Trainer of the International Communications Program “Think On Your Feet®”, which is present in 30 countries with 10 language translations. She loves to read, cook and travel with her family.