The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” -Frederick Buechner
I was recently told that 85% of the financial planners in a local FPA chapter didn’t have a clearly defined target market. And if they do, it’s defined by purely demographic measurements…which makes them no different from the other 85%! I’m not picking on financial planners: I have found that this phenomena is common across many industries.
It’s another case of “me-too-itis.”
What a tragedy! I think of the deep hunger that millions of financial planning clients have for the deep [and hidden] gladness that is being unmet, unsatisfied. If only those planners had stepped up and let their deep gladness shine!
I want to share a story that may rouse you to let your deep gladness shine! With thanks to Don and Renee Worchester, my wife and I heard this inspiring story of Cliff Young:
The old cahoot always ran in his boots.
Weren’t too many of anybody who believed he could.
How the old guy ran for 544 miles. His name was Cliff Young and he wasn’t much. He was 61 years old. He was a farmer. Levi grins big.
Mr. Young showed up for the race in his OshKosh overalls and with his work boots on, with galoshes over top. In case it rained.
He had no Nike sponsorship.
He had no wife—hadn’t had one ever.
Lived with his mother. Never drank. Never ran in any kind of race before. Never ran a 5 mile race, or a half-marathon, not even a marathon.
But there he was standing in his work boots at the starting line of an ultra-marathon, the most grueling marathon in the world, a 544 mile marathon.
Try wrapping your head around the pounding the concrete with one foot after another for 544 endless, stretching miles. They don’t measure races like that in yards—but in zip codes.
First thing Cliff did was take out his teeth.
Said his false teeth rattled when he ran.
Said he grew up on a farm with sheep and no four wheelers, no horses, so the only way to round up sheet was on the run. Sometimes the bet training for the really big things is just the everyday things.
That’s what Cliff said: “Whenever the storms would role in I’d have to go run and round up the sheep.”
2000 head of sheep, 2000 acres of land.
“Sometimes I’d have to run those sheep for two or three days. I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.”
“Got any backers?” Reporters shoved their microphones around old Cliff like a spike belt.
“No…” Cliff slipped his hands into his overall pockets.
“Then you can’t run.”
Cliff looked down at his boots. Does a man need backers or does a man need to believe? What you believe is the biggest backer you’ll ever have.
The other runners, all under a buffed 30 years of age, they take off like pumped shots from that starting line. And scruffy old Cliff staggers forward. He doesn’t run. Shuffles, more like it. Straight back. Arms dangling. Feet awkwardly shuffling along.
Cliff eats dust.
For 18 hours the racers blow down the road, far down the road, and old Cliff shuffles on behind.
Come the pitch black of night, the runners in their ergonomic Nikes and Adidas lay down by the roadside because that’s the plan to win an ultra-marathon, to run 544 straight miles: 18 hours running, 6 hours sleeping, rinse and repeat for 5 days, 6 days, 7 days.
The darkness falls in. Runners sleep. Cameras get turned off. Reporters go to bed.
And through the black night, one 61-year-old man from far behind keeps shuffling on…
And all I can think is…
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it….
Cliff Young runs on through the night and there is a Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not master it.
Thanks for tuning back in next week for the rest of Cliff’s story.
- Imagine your own “Cliff Young moment” when you’re at starting line and comparing yourself to others. What was your reaction to them?
- Consider a moment in your past week when you could’ve done a “Cliff Young” and stayed with your deep gladness. How would that scenario been different? How would you have felt?
Image Credit: “Dirty Boots” by Charles Rondeau via publicdomainpictures.net