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I have a rather long miserable commute to my office, so I either listen to talk radio, Dave Ramsey or talk on the phone. This morning, it just felt like a talk on the phone type day – so I called my Mom. As usual talking to my Mom always ends up being inspirational.
She had gotten just gotten back into town from the fall round-up and was happy to be back in the land of hot running water and electricity. Our ranch is fairly remote and only accessible by truck and satellite phone. Shocking, but yes this means no internet or cell phones. What it does mean is a lot of old fashioned reading – from real books. Even that is a little crazy, since after dark reading is done via butane lamps.
A few weeks ago I sent my Mom a copy of the book “Ingredients of Outliers” written by my boss Dr. John Shufeldt. One of the chapters is called “emptying the tank”, which is focused on giving everything you’ve got towards a goal. John had originally planned to write finish the chapter using Hell Week for Navy Seal Training. There is nothing like Hell Week to prove you are willing to give your all.
Instead he chose to complete the chapter by highlighting Colleen Drury, a close personal friend, who recently passed away from metastatic ovarian cancer. I had only met her a few times, but was very impressed with her zeal for life and gracious personality. She was a very memorable and kind person. Most importantly she didn’t live her life in half measures. She was the epitome of strength and courage throughout her battle with cancer. She truly knew how to “empty the tank”.
My Mom is a quilter. She makes some truly beautiful works of art. She has an eye for color and detail that amaze me. Photography is my creative outlet, sewing is my mothers. Over the last couple of years she has been working on an elaborate quilt that is all hand applique. She has spent hours and hours of work (mostly at the ranch – it is amazing what you can get done without the computer to distract you) and was finally finished with the front. She had planned to do a basic binding job and just call it done. After reading Colleen’s story she had a change of heart. My Mom is now going to spend the extra time on the binding and finishing so that she can enter it into her first quilting contest.
I know most people reading this will just shrug it off and say who cares, but I knew Coleen and I know that she would be proud that her legacy has impacted a quilter in Southern Utah. Every day we make little decision that have a larger impact then we can possibly imagine. We can choose to give 100% at work, school or with our family and friends, or we can slide by and just do enough to get by.
What route are you going to take?
What is it that enables some people to consistently empty the tank, while others languish and flitter their lives away? How often do we see people given every opportunity and yet never seem to make it. On the other hand we hear amazing stories of people who overcome amazing obstacles to succeed.
I firmly believe that the difference between these people is their willingness to keep pushing, to never give up and to constantly strive for more. For me it comes down to three things.
- Start with the end in mind. Set goals and work towards them. Your goals need to be measurable and you must write out distinct steps and timelines for how you will accomplish those goals
- Ask for help. No man is an island. Success will only come when you chose to utilize the resources around you. Someone will always know more or have a better way of accomplishing a goal. They can’t help unless you ask.
- Live life. Happiness comes from living each day to the best of your ability. Make the best decision at the time and then move forward. Don’t waste your time living in the past. Each day is a gift and your altitude is determined by attitude.
Og Mandino said “I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries out for mercy.”
PS. I’ll post pictures of my Mom’s quilt when she wins the contest!
PPS. Colleen’s family and friends started Colleen’s Dream Foundation to help fund Ovarian Cancer research. Additional information can be found on their website here. I highly recommend reading the attached blog.
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