Doing The Right Thing
You might remember the unforgettable footage from the 2012 Ohio State Division III track and field meet. I, for one, will never forget it. Nor will I ever forget the runner, Meghan Vogel.
She was the “real winner.”
Megan is a star. She’d already won the 1,600 meter state title. But the 3,200 meter run was the big one. And she was locked and loaded and ready to nail it.
But then something happened…
Megan was well into the race – feeling good, running strong – when she saw a runner ahead of her named Arden McMath. Arden was wobbling; she was struggling just to stay on her feet. She was actually acting like she might pass out any minute.
Of course, Vogel, who’s a terrific athlete and a great competitor, could just have felt really bad for her…and kept on running.
But she didn’t. She stopped, lifted Arden up - and then, to the amazement of a wildly cheering crowd - she carried Arden all the way to the finish line.
And lifted her over it ahead of herself…
Not surprisingly, she was immediately dubbed, a “true hero” and “the very best kind of champion” by everyone from sports fans to the media.
When she was asked later why she stopped for Arden and abandoned her own chance of winning, she said simply, “My mom (who’s also her coach) told me ‘always do the right thing.’”
There’s a lot to be said for “doing the right thing.” Especially when “the right thing” doesn’t necessarily serve your own best interest. (Vogel wasn’t in the lead in the 3,200, but she certainly could, at a bare minimum, have made an impressive showing.)
But instead, Megan “served” something much bigger than herself: She actually furthered the spirit of the game.
Sometimes “winning” isn’t what it’s about. Maybe it’s not even about you. Maybe it’s about an idea, a cause, an ethic…a team. Maybe it’s about a “spirit.”
And maybe the reason this small act of kindness captured so many hearts (including the judge’s who didn’t follow the “rules” about not aiding another runner… and didn’t disqualify Vogel) is that we seem to be living in an every-man-for-himself world. And a man – or woman – who takes a different tact, at least momentarily, knocks us out.
Listen, times are tough. And many people are so engrossed in driving or protecting their own personal agendas that the idea of risking “looking good” to “do the right thing” is almost unheard of. And in the end where will that take us? No place good, I’m afraid. Because in the end, one can’t sustain a company, an institution, a political party, or a country - without from time to time, looking to a larger purpose, a greater commitment… “doing the right thing.”
Maybe this young woman who followed her instincts and her mom’s good counsel will have changed the game for us. Maybe we’ll remember. And maybe, when the situation presents itself, we’ll follow her lead.
Maybe we’ll even be… the real winner.
I think you’ll love this film clip…