Marcus Ericsson is the Pain-2-Power Person of the Week for maintaining calm under pressure and not quitting. He won the inaugural Nashville Indycar Music City Grand Prix, but not before crashing his car, going airborne, having the front wing fly off the vehicle and making the crowd surely believe he had to be done with the race, if not done with racing. He himself worried the car might snap in half.
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) August 9, 2021
But Marcus Ericsson never stopped. Sure, we wouldn’t and couldn’t blame him had he worried about the roadworthiness of the vehicle racing through the perilous Nashville streets and pulled over to call it a day. We wouldn’t and couldn’t blame him if he felt glad just to have survived the crash, the mid-air moments and the potentially back-breaking impact of landing. But, instead, Marcus Ericsson persisted, in the face of adversity, in the face of worry, in the face of pain and powered on to win the race—not just finish it, but win it. And in so doing, he delivered all of us an inspirational story to fuel our own journeys to the finish line.
See, sports matter to me not because I care which team wins (although I understand why some people do), but because they can be a metaphor for almost unfathomable grit, grace, faith and perseverance. Think of Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary 63-yard pass into the end zone on November 23, 1984 to win the Orange Bowl for Boston College with no time left on the clock.
That pass happened to be caught by Boston College wide receiver Gerard Phelan, Flutie’s college roommate, leaving us to wonder whether anyone who knew Flutie less well, who didn’t communicate with him for hours every day, could possibly have leapt into the air, over the University of Miami defenders, to make the catch.
So Marcus Ericsson may have done what he was trained to do. He may have done what was instinctive. But he had to have decided, through some miraculous combination of character, skill and commitment, to keep on driving and to keep on trying to win.
We all find ourselves, at one time or another, where Marcus Ericsson found himself in the race called life. We run into massive headwinds in our businesses. We confront potentially “fatal” challenges to our relationships. We have to deal with illnesses in ourselves or loved ones. We face a pandemic. We meet bullies.
But for one day, in one city in America, on one roadway, one man decided that crashing and even breaking into pieces and staring death in the face didn’t have to mean he stopped driving and didn’t mean he couldn’t win in the end. And for anyone who saw that happen or hears of it happening, I hope they can channel its magic and truth and strive to turn pain into power.
Dr. Keith Ablow
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