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  • Writer's pictureTim Anderson

Fulfilling Our Obligations

I recently had to pleasure of interviewing Sarah Thomas. She is the first person in the world to swim across the English Channel four times without stopping. It took her 54 hours and she swam a total of 130 miles. She only takes credit for 84 miles though, that’s the total distance it would have been from point to point.

Not only did she swim across the English Channel four times, she completed that monumental goal about two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In fact, it was that goal that she locked in on as she swam through chemotherapy sessions and surgeries. Yes, her physical resilience and endurance is superhuman, but her tenacity is beyond the measurable scale.

Can you imagine swimming for 54 hours straight? Can you imagine focusing on that in the after a life altering diagnosis and during the middle of all the medical treatments that would follow? It’s simply AWE inspiring. Sarah not only kept her head up, but then she put it down and she swam her way to the history books.

I asked Sarah what she would say to anyone who was struggling with an issue, whether it be a crisis or a personal goal that just could not obtain. What she said was powerful.

“You have an obligation to yourself to follow your passion.”

She went on to say, “...if we don’t follow our passion, or pursue the things that bring us happiness, what are we doing?”

I love it.

We are here now. We get only so many cycles around the sun. And while we are spinning around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour, we get to decide whether or not we will engage in this life and live out our purpose and passion.

Yes, things happen that suck. Yes, the world seems like it’s in chaos. Yes, bad things really do happen to good people. None of those things matter as much as what we decide to do when those things happen. We can lay down, we can settle, we can give up or give in. Or, we can decide to stand, we can accept the circumstance and step forward, or we can put our head down and swim our race.

Sarah told me that she had already scheduled her English Channel swim before her cancer diagnosis. Over two years before she broke the world record, she had already determined she would do it. In her mind, it would be done. What did she do when she got her diagnosis? She told her medical team she had an appointment to keep with the English Channel.

We are here for a reason. As long as we have a breath to draw in, we have a choice in how we get to respond to life’s events. And life’s event’s don’t change our purpose. That means life, whether we choose to surf it or get crushed by it, comes from within us.

We choose how we respond to events. What can help us make the best choice? Purpose and passion.

Don’t misunderstand me. Some things that happen are horrific and unimaginable. It’s okay to get the wind knocked out of your sails, it’s okay to lay down when you’re hit with the unthinkable. But it’s not okay to stay down. You’re not made for that. You’ve got a purpose. You may not know what it is yet, but it’s in you somewhere. There is also an endless amount of passion inside of you waiting to help you fulfill your purpose.

Anyway, I thought Sarah’s advice was awesome.

You have an obligation to yourself to follow your passion. This means you also have an obligation to yourself to discover your purpose.

Fulfill your obligations.

That’s why you are here. If it’s not, what are we doing?


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