Taking Joy in the Achievement of Others

By Dr. Steve Smith, Pasadena Pacer Founder and Team Doc

A Pacer cheers from the crowd.
A Pacer cheers from the crowd.

I went up to Ventura last weekend to see the finish line at the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon. We had a lot of Pacers up there and some were running the race of their lives. Coach Edgar and the 20-Mile Challenge crew had a lot riding on this race—they trained hard over the last year and the finish line would spell success now or another year of strenuous training. For one of the runners a baby is due and this was his last chance at a Boston qualifying run. One injured runner hasn’t run for nearly a year, but she trained with the team and showed up to cheer on her mates.

I have marveled at the people who cheer for our runners. They seem to derive great joy in the achievement of others. The relationship between the athletes who run their hearts out and the people who cheer for them is a dance of the human spirit. You just have to go there and experience the emotion to feel the flow of admiration and desire for another’s victory. It is how I felt when my child played music for an audience or raced in a fierce competition. If you have children you know what I mean, an intense desire for their success. You feel it in your chest, eyes well up, and tears flow.

Some people have a special talent in this; they have an effect that really stands out. You can tell who they are by the reaction of the runner who is the target of their intention. When you are a the recipient of their attention, you really feel it. If you have run a race, you have felt it. Spines straighten up, shoulders erect, faces brighten, and paces quicken. Races are won, personal records set, and—alternatively—losses happen. Now, that’s a lot of power to flow from one person. If you can do it to a runner, then you can exert that same energy on the place where you spend your days.

You can imbue joy into the souls of others, make them smile, even giggle a bit, and make ‘em skip. If you ask me, these are the most valuable people on earth!

That’s the spirit. That’s the Pacer way!