by Lex Gillette
And in those days, rigid patterns of segregation existed on the buses, so that [we] had to sit in the back of the buses. Whites were seated in the front, and often if whites didn’t get on the buses, those seats were still reserved for whites only, so [we] had to stand over empty seats. I would end up having to go to the back of that bus with my body, but every time I got on that bus, I left my mind up on the front seat. And I said to myself, “One of these days, I’m going to put my body up there where my mind is.”
Recently, I was listening to Martin Luther King’s autobiography. This paragraph moved me, certainly with its social importance, but there was more to it. There was tenacity and belief and motivation there. History has shown us that Dr. King had commitment, perseverance, and courage. We cannot deny that. All those things became real for me in that final sentence:
And I told myself, “One of these days I’m going to put my body up there where my mind is.”
How powerful is that?
Vision and action
I’m a huge believer in vision. Vision allows us to see things that aren’t yet in existence. It’s in my tag line. My speeches are centered on vision and how to take action. I use vision as an athlete, and I consider it essential to motivation.
Listen, everyone has visions, desires, and aspirations. For most people however, there is a gap between where their minds are, and where their bodies are.
To achieve these things and close that gap, you need to put forth effort. I’m not trying to scare you; striving for something more is scary enough on its own. But you need to know that it takes a lot. It will not come without effort.
Think about all it took for Martin Luther King to help push equality forward. Clearly, he had a vision, and he helped change the entire landscape of our country. He didn’t sit around doing nothing. He worked tirelessly, sacrificed, and put it all on the line.
Here’s the thing. He may not have been able to see all the fruits of his labor, but you cannot say he lacked vision or motivation. Certainly, he opened up that front seat for others.
Play catch up
We must catch up to where our minds are. We’re thinking five, ten, twenty years ahead and that’s a good thing. But it does no good to just think about it. Vision is nothing if we don’t act.
My mind is on winning gold in Tokyo next summer. I’m putting in the effort I need to put my body on the top of that medal stand because that is where my mind is.
If you want to know what that effort looks like, it’s five days of training a week with three to four hours each day. And I don’t just jump. I run 150-meter sprints or 80-meter uphill sprints or I do hundreds of repetitions for my abs. I go to the weight room and do power cleans, squats, weighted box jumps, single leg box jumps, leg presses, calf raises, and medicine ball throws. I do my best to consume the right foods, and get the appropriate amount of rest and sleep.
My effort is specific and intentional, and that’s what I need to do to close that gap.
Your mind is on Wall Street. Catch up to where your mind is.
Your mind is on creating an innovative piece of technology that will change how we live and think. Get up. It’s go-time.
Your mind is on being the first to do something that has never been done. Catch up to it.
Wherever your mind is, get your body there. The time is now. Let’s go!
Lex Gillette is a professional keynote speaker, 4x Paralympic Medalist, and 3x Long Jump World Champion who is currently training to win gold at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. He has been wowing audiences of all sizes with his athletic gift since 2004, and he has been inspiring audiences on the corporate stage since 2013. His ultimate goal is to teach others to look past their current reality and challenge them to see further than they ever thought possible.
Photo credits: B&W photo of Lex by Alex Ingram at Art Is Being; vector drawing of MLK from Pixabay