Finish Last: The Race to Impact


With Spring in full swing, the weather being somewhat consistent, and allergies flaring(mine included lol), it’s the perfect time of year to start running. That’s right, across high school and college campuses you’ll find students who run for fun. We runners, have stamina in our bones, and legs that often feel like jelly. What once was everyone’s only way of transportation has now become one of America’s favorite hobbies, sports, and exercises. As a lifelong asthmatic, many would’ve never guessed that I ran Cross Country in High School. My senior year I remember running against some of the best runners in the State and I envied their ability to accomplish so much within such short amounts of times. They were naturally good runners that could excel with little practice, whereas, people like me had to literally run our tails off just to be somewhat competitive. During my time, I was often asked what the crazy motives behind me running so much were. The fact is I enjoyed running, and going into it, I knew I wasn’t going to be the best one out there. In truth, the very first time I competed at a meet, I came in DEAD LAST. No joke. For me, it was about working hard by physically contributing to a team that I believed in. Eventually I was able to condition myself to the point where I was able to be competitive, but there was more to the story. Now, don’t get me wrong, I would’ve loved to have been able to achieve a medal in cross country, but the ultimate success didn’t come from the pursuit of a medal. The true rewards came from the experience of building my stamina, increasing my body’s endurance, and developing my dedication and character to the team. If you were to summarize all the rewards into one phrase, it would be coined as personal growth.

I tend to think that in life, every one of us can be characterized as a runner. We all have goals, dreams, and ambitions that we shoot for, but we must keep our perspectives and motives in check. There are 2 different types of runners in our world: people who are running from their fears, and then there are people who are sprinting toward their future. In our society, we put emphasis on the Super Bowl wins, the leadership roles, the champion livestock, the Academy Award nominations, the trophies, the finish line, and winning records. But the truth of the matter is that while these things are great accomplishments, these accolades don’t last. They fade away just as the sun fades into the night. We’re only on this planet for a short time and that should motivate us to do something that is lasting and memorable. And you may say, “Brandon, how do you do that?” Well, I will answer that by asking YOU a question, “If you are a runner of life then what are you competing for?”

Many people are competing for the titles, but fewer are truly competing for the Impact. Power Hungry Leaders care about their own benefit, but Servant-Minded Leaders care about the benefit of others. In recent news, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has become power hungry by threatening to take control over the Ukraine. Now, to the followers of my blogs in the Ukraine, please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Putin has become tyrannical in the sense that he is competing against the powers of other nations to accomplish his own agenda. The well-being of the Ukraine is discouragingly being put aside and the pride of Putin is diminishing the positive impact he could’ve had as a leader. Bottom-line: selfishness breeds destruction, but selflessness breeds restoration.

I will be very frank with you: there are so many people in this world who are hungry for a Difference, craving for a Change, and starving for an Impact. The question is who will feed them? People’s lives are waiting to be changed; and the future of their success depends on your choice to leave that impact by running your race strong! In this world’s eyes, we may Finish Last, but that’s because we desire to achieve something that is far greater than 1st place at the finish line. We Finish Last because we’re tired of the norm and dream of shattering the negative statistics of our generation. We Finish Last because we don’t seek power, we seek peace. We Finish Last, because we know that we run our race that is bigger than ourselves. I have a question for you, “Do you want to make a difference in the lives of others?” “Do you want to impact your generation in a very profound and lasting way?” “Are you willing to put yourself last, so that others may be first to experience your impact?’ If you do, then I challenge you to RUN YOUR RACE like never before, work hard, make the most of it, put others above yourself, reach out to people, kick your heart in gear, love the unlovable, be a servant, compete for the difference, shift your focus beyond the finish line, beyond the material things, SPRINT TOWARD YOUR FUTURE, and begin to put your sights on making your IMPACT a reality.  My name is Brandon Baumgarten and I have already decided to Finish Last. The question is, “Will you?”

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Brandon Baumgarten

Brandon Baumgarten grew up in the small town of Oilton, Oklahoma and was elected to serve the Oklahoma FFA Association as State Secretary, State President, and as a National Officer Candidate representing nearly 25,000 students on the local, state, and national levels from 2011-2013. Afterwards, Brandon launched his speaking career and authored the highly sought after leadership book, Caught Up & Called Out, hoping to help others see the impact they can make on this world. He is a professional speaker, speaking at over 100 different events each year, and a graduate from Oklahoma State University in Agricultural Leadership, and was even named a top 10 student. He is a Zig Ziglar Legacy & Youth Certified Presenter and his message is always to engage, encourage, and empower you to do something big in your life! No matter if you are a student, teacher, parent, or business executive, Brandon's presentations are certain to make you laugh, think, and realize your impact is about to begin!

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