With the end of school year upon us, I wanted to share a story from 7 Moments…that Define Excellent Leaders:

Georgene Johnson got to the starting line of a weekend race 15 minutes early. It was a mistake in timing that became a defining moment in her life.

The 42-year-old secretary had registered to run in a 10 kilometer/ 6.2 mile race that Sunday. The race started at 8:45 a.m. There was also a marathon scheduled to begin 15 minutes earlier. Both races used the same starting line.

Georgene took off at the sound of the starting gun. Four miles down the road, as the race route took the runners out of downtown and into residential areas, Johnson said she experienced a sick feeling that she was possibly in the wrong race. A few minutes later, another runner confirmed her suspicions.

Instead of stopping and retracing her steps, she joined about 4,000 runners taking part in the Revco-Cleveland Marathon. Rather than quit, she decided to keep going and hung on to finish her first 26-mile race.

“As stupid as I felt out there running, I’m proud of myself,” Johnson said after the race. “I guess I was in better shape than I thought. I feel fine.”

Johnson finished the 26-mile marathon in four hours and four minutes, good enough for 83rd place in the women’s division – definitely qualifying as one of her life’s defining moments. Why? Until that time, her longest run was eight miles.

How will YOU choose to face the challenges ahead of you? Your 6.2 mile race might turn into a marathon.

As you reflect on this year, you might have stumbled on unexpected obstacles or been battered by the economy. Remember, it’s not our circumstances that define us, but how we respond to them. We must turn those stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

Copyright © 2012 by Lee J. Colan and The L Group, Inc.