People need a reason to care. Plain and simple.
There’s no other way to get people involved in your projects, causes, sport, life, etc. The majority of us don’t have the social, political, or economic platform that a very few enjoy, such as professional football or basketball players, congressmen and women, or the Kardashians. So what do you have to do to get people to join your journey?
You must tell a compelling story in today’s crowded media environment.
If people can’t see something raw or different about what you are doing, then they will just keep passing you over. But magic moments happen when people from different backgrounds invest energy into one singular thing. You have to give people a captivating reason to join the movement. People respond to passion. It always turns heads. It’s easy to be passionate about something you care about. All of us have our own passions and interest that keep us pre-occupied.
So what’s going to draw my attention away from my own passions? Why should I invest time and energy into something else or some other person’s passion?
When you see the time and energy that someone has poured into their craft it gives you a reason to care far beyond your normal passing.
In today’s electronic age, it’s so easy to be light fans of so many different things or people.
With near instant results from any sport competition available at your fingertips, it’s easy to just log on at the end of the day or competition and check results. But when you become invested in someone’s journey, you’ve seen the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into their preparation. You might find yourself watching the entirety of a 2- or 3-hour marathon, a 9-hour triathlon, checking splits for a 12-hour adventure race, or even watching an entire golf match (chirp chirp).
Developing compelling story lines has been especially well done in traditional sports (football, basketball, and baseball) for nearly a hundred years. But so many minor sports in this country are still struggling to find the proper narratives. They struggle to find their platform to reach the public.
Look no further than golf.
Since the demise of Tiger Woods, ratings have struggled. Public interest has waned, and the sport is held breathless waiting for his return. Although golf still has a loyal fan base, it’s not the same. Ten years ago, when Tiger could keep an audience glued to their TV as he made golf courses around the world look like putt-putt courses. People care about Tiger. Not just because he is great, but because they can literally see the desire and commitment to his craft. Every time he held a club in his hand, you could see the passion in his face. Of course there are others who have been just as dedicated and probably worked even harder. However, they can’t make people care because they never got over the hump of greatness.
Unfortunately traditional media has failed my sport and many other crafts. Luckily, social media has provided us with an outlet to connect directly with people and fans.
There are rare opportunities in our sport and other minor sports for athletes to capture the attention of the national conscious.
Meb Keflezighi did that when he won the Boston Marathon in 2014 on the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. Shalane Flanagan did it this fall by being the first American female winner in the New York City Marathon in over 40 years. Those moments catapult our sport into the mainstream and give people a reason to care. However, those achievements are few and far between. Meb had won the New York City Marathon in 2009, but it didn’t have the same meaning. Shalane had won nearly every national title she had ever lined up for and brought home hardware from the Olympics, but it wasn’t the same.
What made their two victories in 2014 and 2017 so special is they stirred emotions in regular people, not just fans of track and field. Tons of athletes have won gold medals at the Olympics and not had the same impact on their American culture. When Meb and Shalane were both running down the finishing straights of those final miles in the lead of a World Major Marathon, people didn’t see a scrawny distance runner hardened by thousands of miles. People saw an American winning and that’s something they can get behind.
It’s particularly important for Shalane and Meb who, like myself, look to inspire others. They both know the commitment it takes to compete at the highest level of sport. Equally important, they want to inspire that in the next generation. Had they not had the right inspiration and encouragement in their lives, their dreams never would’ve become possible.
Kids, teenagers, and all adults need inspiration.
Growing up, most children have big dreams. If you are around kids at all, you hear it all the time. Whether it’s to be an athlete, a doctor, an astronaut, a firefighter, or a ghost-buster, etc. But, so very few of us get to experience that childhood dream come true.
Dreams are important, but sharing those dreams with other people is special. This is where the magic happens.
We all have selfish dreams and desires. But those dreams and desires are nothing without the involvement of other people. Tiger Woods had his father. Shalane Flanagan had her mother. All these people had special relationships with the mentors in their life. Their encouragement provided the boost to pick them up at the right moment. We, as fans of sports and fans of great moments, all need more opportunities to share. We are all craving those moments that bring people together and inspire the next generation. So no matter where your passions lie, try to find ways to engage the community around you. We are a tribal species, and functioning well in groups of like-minded people is something our genetics crave.
So why do you care? Why should you get involved in other’s passions? Simply put , this is when magic will happen. So, get involved. It will make a huge difference in your life, and the people around you. You really never know who you might inspire. Whether it’s the next Olympian or someone who cures cancer, your enthusiasm, listening, watching and sharing just might be the catalyst to cause the flame to burn within.
When people all come together to support someone’s dream, join the ride, and become part of the movement, truly special things happen.
Brandon Hudgins is an Elite Track Runner. He became the 448th American to break the 4-minute mile barrier. His passion for the sport of Track and Field overflows and shows in his desire to elevate the sport to new levels. He also strives to raise awareness for the rare auto-immune disease that he suffers from through his association with the Vasculitis Foundation.
Brandon is also a published author. You can buy his latest book here: Going the Distance.
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