The Power of Showing Up

Olympics Rio logo statueThe lawyer loves to run. Michalis Kalomiris makes his living as an attorney in Athens, Greece, but when he is not in the office, he sweats. He is not a sprinter, but he can run for a long time. He runs several miles per day. His favorite race is the marathon.

In March 2015, Michalis traveled to Rome to run a marathon. The weather was awful that morning—cold and rainy. Men could qualify for the Olympics by running the marathon in 2 hours 19 minutes, but the weather conditions militated against anyone running a personal best. “The conditions were tough, with constant rain and cold,” he explained. “Better athletes in the race decided to give up.”

Rather than waste an opportunity to run a qualifying time, excellent runners took a pass. Kalomiris, however, donned his gear. He made his way to the warm-up area and stretched and stretched. He thought about enjoying a free day in Rome. Instead, he ran.

Michalis ran well, 2:29. He was 10 minutes from automatically qualifying for Rio, but that was all right. Michalis was an attorney—not an Olympian. He went home to Athens, back to work, and he kept running.

Fourteen months later, in May 2016, the attorney read an article about the Rio Olympics. As he browsed the list of Olympic athletes, he was stunned to see his own name, “Michalis Kalomiris” from Greece! Because the Rome Marathon was a “Gold Label” event, any runner who had finished in the top 10 qualified for the Olympics. Since Michalis Kalomiris showed up on the day when the great athletes stayed in bed, he finished in that top 10.

In May, Michalis went to his law firm and asked for three months off to train. This aspiring attorney is not a world-class marathoner, but he has earned the right to become an Olympian. Michalis may never become a judge. He may never win a famous legal case.

Because he showed up on a difficult day, he will be an Olympian the rest of his life!

About Ben Unseth

Migrant executive and professor.
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