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Occasionally, you gotta’ throw the lead dog a bone

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 Last Saturday, instead of hunting or fishing, I took a morning run with a friend. We both were not feeling too good because we had run a little harder the day before, so we cut a planned 8-mile run down to 7 miles. I had also just joined my wife and daughter in a detox diet the day before and was craving my jelly beans or something sweet really bad. It was not a good morning.

After my run, however, I remembered that the local tri-state youth choir was having a fun-run. I decided to drink a PowerAde (carb free of course: stupid detox diet!) and head over and join the fun. I thought I felt a little better, so I began another run. After 3 miles, I was toast. And I was over 2 miles from the finish line. In all my humility, I began to walk. 

I watched person after person run by me. What was worse was watching those who only walked brisk past me as well. What was totally humbling was all of those young people who felt the need to encourage the old man with the “you can make it” Rocky speech. I just smiled and went on. Well, what I really wanted to say was “Hey you wrinkle free, pimple infested, whippersnappers, I just ran 10 miles!” But no, I just smiled, knowing that I was so close to dying that any extra energy would add an ambulance ride to my morning resume’. 

What I did notice between fainting spells was this – the guys and gals in front never got the words of encouragement. It was those of us who were struggling (Ok, so I was the only one struggling). It seemed that those in the lead were more apt to receive a hint of jealousy or even an unabashed desire to trip, turn an ankle and limp in like the rest of us (But that wasn’t me). 

It has been said that if you’re not the lead dog, the view is always the same. Because most of us are not the lead dog, we often draw the encouragement to “keep on going” in spite of all of the difficulties. The positive side of not being the lead dog is that we don’t have the responsibility to know which direction to go. We can just follow those out front and if they lead us wrong...well, its their fault. In fact, that morning I never had to figure out the path to take. I just had to follow those who were ahead of me.

I wonder when was the last time you gave a word of encouragement to someone who is in front; someone who is setting the pace or making sure you are pointed in the right direction. It may be a boss, pastor or even a friend who is clearing new ground so you don’t have to. It may seem like they don’t need it and that your words would make little difference. Try it. Not only will your support lift him or her up, it will also breathe new life into you as you move into your position as the lead dog.

Contact Gary Miller at www.outdoortruths.org.