Last week I had the incredible opportunity to attend a Leadership and Ethics Conference at the University of Denver hosted by West Point Academy. The day was full of thought-provoking conversations, wonderful dialogue with current and future leaders, and engaging speakers including former Army Chief of Staff and four star general, George W. Casey and DU Ethics professor Doctor Corey Ciocchetti. During his keynote address, Dr. Ciocchetti shared a story about a dog. I must say, I was a little surprised when he started his speech at a Leadership and Ethics conference talking about a dog, but I was intrigued, so I kept listening.
You see, the dog Dr. Ciocchetti was speaking about was named Cash, and he was the best greyhound racing dog of all time. After winning millions of dollars for his owner it was the night before the biggest race of his career and Cash was favored to win. Cash’s owner asked Cash if he was ready for the big race. Cash looked up at her and said “actually, I need to talk to you about something. I am not racing tomorrow. As a matter of fact, I am never racing again. I have decided to retire.” His owner was shocked. “What do you mean you are retiring? You are the winningest racing dog of all time and you are in the prime of your racing career.” Cash replied “You know, I have been thinking a lot about my life. All I ever do is run around the same dirt track over and over again, chasing those white rabbits. And you know what I realized? Those rabbits are fake. I am done chasing fake rabbits.” Doctor Ciocchetti asked our audience, “what rabbit are you chasing today? Is it money, popularity, good grades, appearance, fashion, social status? Are the rabbits you are chasing fake?”
You could have heard a pin drop in that room of over 200 students and leaders. Personally, I haven’t stopped thinking about his question since I left the conference last week. While we all know that there is nothing innately wrong with money, good grades, having a lot of friends, or buying the latest on trend outfit, if you are constantly chasing these rabbits, you will continue to run around that same dirt track, over and over again, and never be truly happy, and here’s why:
There will always be someone that makes more money than you.
There will always be someone that has more friends than you or has more followers or likes on Instagram.
There will always be someone that gets better grades than you.
There will always be someone that is prettier, or skinnier, or more in shape than you.
There will always be someone that has cuter clothes or buys the latest fashion accessory before you get around to it.
I am guilty of chasing many of these fake rabbits. We live in a world where we are constantly seeing images of perfectly posed pictures on social media. Everyone is living their best life on Instagram. #blessed. But here is the deal, it isn’t all real. The pictures have been Facetuned. The photo may have been taken 15 times to get just the right angle. The brand new car your friend just posted on Facebook may have put them $50,000 in debt. The girl that looks like she is having the BEST time at the party might be struggling with addiction, or body issue images, or loneliness. My point is, maybe we are chasing the wrong rabbits. What if the perfection we are striving for is just a fake, white, plastic rabbit? Are we just running the “race” of life at an unsustainable pace to chase ideals that aren’t even real to begin with?
Here is the good news; there are plenty of real rabbits out there, you just have to slow down, take a look around you and find them. Remember that girlfriend that has been in your life for as long as you can remember that called to check on you last week because she hadn’t heard from you in a while? She is a real rabbit. Or what about that smile your newborn baby gave you yesterday when you were running in a thousand different directions trying to get dinner on the table? He is a real rabbit too. How about the parent or spouse that has stood by your side through the good and the bad times and refuses to give up on you, no matter how many times you want to give up on yourself? Yep, they are real rabbits as well. Genuine, good, REAL rabbits are all around us if we take the time to stop and see them. This week I encourage you to look for the real rabbits in your life and stop focusing so much on the plastic ones that we are constantly chasing. They were never real anyway.
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