Run Your Race by Rajah E. Smart, Ed.D.

My brother said recently, “It’s funny how those who had they run got something to say about folks running they best race!” That statement says so much and can be used in various contexts. My family and I are currently trying to understand how to care for our mother, as well, and run our individual and collective races. He made the statement, and it made me ponder in detail. For the better part of my life, I stay to myself and complete personal goals. We all have goals important to us, whether it be something as simple as traveling or writing a blog. Some of us think about education, property, investments, having children, and more. None of those are bad things by any means, especially if you’re doing so on your own dime. So, when I heard the phrase, I immediately thought about how people will use their measuring sticks to gauge someone’s success.

I recently overheard two family members discussing my doctorate. First, neither of them paid for, invested in, or understand the rationale for obtaining such a thing. Neither understand how complicated the whole process can be. Still, the thing I paid for and worked hard to achieve is simplified as being only “a piece of paper.” My favorite is, “he paid all that money for that, and it does nothing.” Imagine if that were true. These critics ran their race and settled for what they wanted but criticize with ill will versus supporting the effort while I run mine. I find that it is easy for folks, family especially, who don’t understand or seek to understand, will attempt to tear you down. Success is measured by what you want to accomplish, not by what some insignificant people believe. They are gauging you with their ruler versus understanding your ruler is different.

Even with my brother, we have learned to support our ideas. Here is someone who has lived his life and has reached multiple goals. I don’t view him as less than me. On the contrary, I consider him as successful, and I surround myself with successful people. One of my closest cousins has my respect because she fights each day to make the world make sense. I’ve seen her take some hits and keep moving with great fortitude. It gives me strength and energy to never quit. My wife has sacrificed things such as time with her family to care for mine. But, folks will have their narrative to spread. I admire her care and concern despite the nonsense she has encountered.

As people, we have to be better about praising people for what they want to accomplish and not what you think they should. Some folks simply want to work an 8 to 5 and be good. Some want to be the next entrepreneur or singer. Some don’t want to live in a neighborhood where the average house is only worth $35,000 with hopes of fixing it up. If that’s what you like, why criticize the person who wants to live in a $280,000? It’s all about the quality of life. If the money isn’t leaving your pockets for their living and well-being, have a Coke and a smile and shut up. They are probably living their best life or merely trying to make it work. Lend a hand or simply keep your negative energy to yourself.

Those closest to me know I don’t waste my time in someone else’s pockets. I don’t worry about what someone else is doing because it has nothing to do with my success. What I do is try to empower those around me to assist in any way I can. Run your race and don’t worry about the haters. Don’t let the 20% impact your 80%. Whether it be family, colleagues, or acquaintances, realize that the talk they do in front of you is not necessarily what they say behind closed doors. But, realize to race because you want to and not for the cheers, claps, and kudos.

It’s funny how parents, aunts, uncles, elders, and more have had their run, made mistakes, but have the audacity to criticize your choices and mistakes when we saw their mistakes in real-time. It seems rather silly, right? Don’t look for wolves in sheepskin to validate you. Validate yourself and that comes from your success.

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