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Lesson #5: Stay Focused
In 2003, Combs made up his mind that he was going to run in the New York City Marathon, one of the top annual long-distance running events in the U.S, comprised of a 26.2-mile course through the five boroughs of the city. A first for Combs, his goal was to raise $1 million for the New York City school system. For eight street weeks, Combs trained around the clock to be ready for the race. Most people train for months or even years before this marathon, but Combs dedicated himself completely to training during those eight weeks. At mile 12 of the race, Combs’ leg seized and his physician was unsure if he could continue.
But, Combs remained focused on his goal. He had managed to raise $2 million in donations – double his initial goal – and he was not about to let his supporters, or the children of New York City down. He made the mental decision to commit to his goal and finish the race – no matter what the cost. Four hours after he began running, Combs crossed the finish line. He didn’t achieve the fastest time in the race, but he had accomplished what he first set out to do – complete the marathon. Despite injuries and fatigue, Combs remained focused on his end goal.
It is this same focus that Combs applies to all other aspects of his life. During one of the most difficult times of his life – his trial for weapons charges that stemmed from a 1999 shooting at a Manhattan nightclub in which three people were injured – he continued to focus on his music and his clothing line. With the world looking in on his life and scrutinizing its every detail, many others would have crumbled. But, Combs looked to the future and focused on life after the trial. In the end, his focus paid off. He was acquitted of all charges of weapon possession and bribing a witness. Unfazed, Combs went right back to work after the trial.
Part of Combs’ ability to stay focused on what’s important to him in the future lies in the time he takes to reflect on where he has already been. “You can’t really know where you’re going in life as a person, let alone a culture or community, if you don’t take the time to sit back, evaluate and analyze the successes and the mistakes,” he says. “Try to figure out how to learn from them and move forward by setting goals and agendas for yourself.”
Indeed, Combs has never been one to lack goals, and with his fierce determination and focus, he set out to achieve those goals, willing to settle for nothing less.
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