Jon discusses his Olympic dreams, his kidney disease journey, and the creation of Go Be More. And he reminds us to believe in our dreams.
From the show description:
The most important thing that I will ever do with my life is finding a way to convince people to believe in their own dreams and to find a way to understand that it’s not about the how it’s about the thing that drives you to live the life that makes you happiest. — Jon Rankin
On your heart
Growing up, Jon didn’t know he had talent. But he knew he’d accomplish what his heart went after. This led him on a running journey through attending UCLA to then being an alternate in the Olympics.
He reminds us that, “Your heart knows all the answers to all the questions that you have about what the heck you’re supposed to be doing with your life.” We are trained to ignore our intuition and gut because it’s not always clear it’s the right thing. But Jon says things always work themselves out and that it’s about moving forward and doing what makes you happy.
It’s easy to get caught up in identifying yourself as a runner, Jon says. We often take up the identity of the sport we do versus the person who does that sport. Jon says this is similar to race. “As a black man, I don’t think about being Black. I see myself as a man who happens to be Black. You know, I don’t put the color before the person of the human being. I’m a human being.”
Parenting isn’t easy, but Jon says it’s about time and love. Every mistake is a part of the journey because there’s an unspoken understanding that allows those parent-child bonds to never be shaken. He says relationships get better with time and love.
Jon has never looked at the rosters to see who he would run against. He didn’t want to know. because he felt he didn’t need to know. Why? He shares that in running just like in life, you can’t dictate how others are going to do, you can only focus on your own performance. Trust your own talent.
On Being an Artist
“I felt like in many ways, I do anything in life as an artist, I’m a creator. A performer,” Jon says. Running is like a performance because you communicate through every step and every surge. You go through the moves, the failures. Running is a canvas you can paint with your efforts.
Living with Kidney Disease
When he was 26, Jon was going through a routine physical exam a few weeks before the Olympic trials when the doctors discovered he had kidney disease. He was at the top of his athletic career when suddenly gets told he as a progressive terminal illness which ended his professional running career.
But Jon chose to see this ending as a new beginning. He made the choice to re-examine what was important in his life. Relationships, family, life’s meaning. He questioned everything and suddenly running wasn’t as important as it used to be. This led him on the path to starting a family, starting his own business, and still having a positive relationship with the sport.
Go Be More
In 2007 Jon came up with the idea to start his company called Go Be More based on the fairy tale of the ginger bread man. He saw this story of the little cookie who didn’t want to just be born to be eaten. Jon says every human being is born into this world that wants to consume who they are before they have a chance to be who they were born to be. So Go Be More was born.
Jon’s a writer, a storyteller. He wanted to be like the Ginger Bread Man and inspire others to Go Be More.
“We are the gingerbread man. We are born into this world that wants to tell us who we are based on our religion, our sex or sexual orientation, our class our ethnicity. You know what we’re born and yet within us, you know, we know that we want to be something more than we’re more than what the world says we are so that box that we’re born into this identity. It’s what the world has placed upon us and so we have to cast it away. We have to find a way to Go Be More. To run towards the thing that truly will help us to be who we were born to be.”
Jon may have not achieved all the running dreams he had, but he is certainly a happier person because he chased them.
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