We’re all guilty of it. We’ve all said it. Whether downplaying our effort or in reaction (mostly awe) to someone else’s, we’ve all slid that unassuming four-letter word into our conversations.
When a co-worker is talking about training for their marathon, and yours is suddenly ‘just’ training for a 5K. When a friend loses 50 pounds, and your hard-earned loss suddenly becomes ‘just’ a whopping ten. When the treadmill’er next to you is crushing 7-minute miles, and you look down to see your average pace is ‘just’ a 12-minute mile.
You get me, right?
And we (myself included) slip into the mind game of rank-ordering our effort in proportion to the collective mileage, pace and experience of everyone else. We do it in running – we do it in life.
Who am I to celebrate amidst so many who are doing more, going further and working harder than me?
We compare. We analyze.
In conversations with others, we disregard and downplay our effort, even though we literally feel like we’re moving mountains. We hold back our giddy enthusiasm because it feels ‘less than’ somebody else’s. And often, despite an overwhelming sense of pride, we disconnect ourselves from the hard earned and deserving acknowledgement of the journey. And we do it with one little word, a heapful of non-verbals, and usually a spontaneous shoulder shrug…
It’s just a 5K.
It’s just 10 pounds.
It’s just a 12-minute mile.
It’s just a race.
Well, I don’t buy it.
We have talked with thousands of women throughout the country and over the past two years of being amidst some of the most amazing women we have ever met and hearing the most incredible stories of transformation one could imagine, we’ve noticed a steady undercurrent in the dialogue. Inevitably, while at a race or expo, we’ll talk to a group of excited ladies and ask them about their races. And we’ll hear this:
Friend 1: I’m doing the full.
Friend 2: I’m doing the half.
Friend 3: Oh, I’m just doing the 5K.
(Now, recall your own conversations. How many times have you heard this? Said this? Witnessed this? Felt this?)
We do this A LOT. And we need to knock it off.
Because let’s be real, transformation doesn’t happen through miles. It happens in the moments.
You took time out of your life – your already busy and chaotic life – for this journey. You said ‘no’ to fun gatherings because of early morning runs. You brought gym shoes with you on the supposed-to-be relaxing vacation. You drank more water and less wine. You started to look at showers as a waste unless you had sweat at least once – sometimes twice.
You got stronger. You sacrificed – a lot. You pushed through pain and wanted to give up, but didn’t. You committed to something and finally, kept your word. You shifted priorities.
You rewrote the story of what your mind and body are capable of. And now, you suddenly the feel the pull to chase other dreams – dreams you wouldn’t dare have thought you were worthy of before.
And when it’s all said and done, remember… the finish line doesn’t care how many miles you have run, how fast you’ve gone or how many people you’ve passed or who may have passed you. It just cares that you arrive – that you finish what you started.
So hear me loud and clear – It’s not JUST a 5K.
Let’s eliminate the downplaying-usage of this word from our vocabulary and our way of thinking. The next time you hear somebody – a running partner, colleague, friend, teammate, even your children – minimize the value of their effort by placing the word ‘just’ in front of it, call them on it. Any distance, any pace, any goal. Call them on it. Together, let’s CHANGE the way we acknowledge and talk about our effort, goals and achievements.
Be the reminder. Be the example.
And the next time it rolls off your tongue, correct yourself. Reframe, shift and change the conversation in your head.
Instead, with a proud smile on your face, try using it this way, “ I JUST did that.”
It just might inspire someone else to do the same.