Michael Jordan once said, “I have failed over and over again — that is why I succeed.” During his time as an iconic professional basketball player, Jordan used this mantra repeatedly. Athletes often use mantras to help them push through the physical and mental pain they put their bodies through.
“Do hard things” is Anderson University alumna Christy Kihm’s mantra.
Kihm, a senior admissions counselor at AU, recently ran in an Indianapolis sprint triathlon, the Indianapolis mini-marathon, and the Sydney (Australia) mini-marathon to raise money for a nonprofit. To stay motivated, Kihm created her mantra.
“I read about how it can help mentally when running to have a mantra to just repeat over and over in your head,” said Kihm. “Part of what I decided on was ‘do hard things.’”
While the mantra was helpful, her underlying motivation came from her Tri-S experiences nearly 10 years ago. Kihm, who earned her BA in 2003 and MBA in 2010 from AU, admits the five Tri-S trips she took while she was a student were some of her favorite memories from AU. Last year, those memories resurfaced and challenged her to compete in her races.
While working in the Admissions Office, Kihm was inspired by student Gracie Winkler’s application letter. That letter touched on her experience working for Active Water, a nonprofit organization that raises money to bring clean water solutions, hygiene training, and sanitation projects to communities in need across the globe. Winkler was familiar with Active Water because they were featured at a Christ in Youth conference she attended the summer before.
Although Winkler never ran a race for Active Water, she organized a 5K event in her community and donated the money to the organization. “I ended up having 30 people come, and we made enough money to give 11 families water filter systems in their homes,” Winkler said. Kihm, inspired by Winkler’s story, decided she wanted to make a difference as well.
“With a new outlook on life and a desire to find a meaningful way to make a difference, I am committing to run two half-marathons and do a sprint triathlon this year while raising money for Active Water!” Kihm posted on her fundraising page. After visiting developing countries and witnessing how precious water is, she hoped to pay it forward.
In the spring of 2011, Kihm committed. She joined the Active Water team and signed up for the Indianapolis and Sydney mini-marathons, in addition to an Indianapolis sprint triathlon. All proceeds went to provide clean water for people in Ndola, Zambia.
The sprint triathlon took place in April while the Indy mini-marathon was in May, followed by the Sydney mini-marathon the very next weekend. The opportunity to run in Sydney came because Kihm was leading a Tri-S trip there.
With the races so close together, repeating “do hard things” helped remind Kihm that sometimes the hardest things can be the most enriching and worthwhile experiences.
“Overall, these events this spring reminded me that the limits that I see in my life are self-created,” Kihm said. “With supportive friends and family, and faith that God is bigger than my circumstances, I can do anything!”
— Corinne Schmitt is a senior from Geneva, Ill., majoring in public relations. Schmitt is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.