A Recipe for Excellence
I was fourteen years old when I started a volunteer job that would forever change my life and the way I look at the world. The place: Casa de Consuelo (The House of Comfort), a small 10-bed hospice in South Texas that cared for the terminally ill in their final stages of life. My time there produced a question in my head that to this day, I cannot shake. That is, how can I live my life in such a way that at the end of it, I can look back and be utterly satisfied?
This question has taken me on a rollercoaster journey in search of the ultimate answer. It is what has driven me to work hard, overcome obstacles, and reach out to help others do the same. It has shaped me as a human and defined my role as both mother and mentor. To this end I’ve devised what I consider to be a simple-three part recipe for excellence and ultimately life success. I share this recipe with you now in the hopes that you will in turn share it with loved ones in your life.
The first part to achieving excellence is the simplest. Set a goal. Set any goal. In fact, set several goals. Make a bucket list and write down all the things you’d like to do before you kick the bucket. Use your imagination and help young minds to use theirs. Parents, inspire your children to dream big. Give them the kinds of experiences that will enliven their imagination and plant the seeds necessary for their dreams to take root. Encourage them to see the bigger picture in things. Point to every day heroes for inspiration and give them the confidence that they need to see the hero in themselves.
With seeds planted and dreams in hand, this next practical step is what turns idle thought into real opportunity. That is, that one must have the skills they need in order to make achieving their dreams possible. Few of us on earth are a Renaissance man. It is our sole responsibility (and sometimes our greatest challenge) to become willing enough to reach out and open enough to learn. We live in the era of information and our library's and laptops are filled with valuable resources in any number of ways. Trust that all the tools you need for success are at your disposal. All you need to do is look and ask.
Once fully equipped with dreams and a supply of necessary skills, the final and most crucial ingredient is steel hard determination. By far the hardest of the three, retaining steel hard determination means living with discipline and mastering the mind. These come through maintaining an unwavering commitment and having a thorough understanding that momentary failure is inevitable. History tells us that it took Thomas Edison over 10,000 failed attempts before he achieved the invention of the light bulb. Our journeys in life occur many a time like Edison. In our strivings towards excellence, we must understand that our failures do not define us. Rather, they point to the honest fact that life is a work in progress. Our imperfections, however great or small, do not negate our capacity for excellence. Nurturing a negative-self concept on the other hand, can singularly destroy a life.
This last crucial ingredient is so often what goes missing. Too many dreams have been relinquished in the face of fears, doubts, and failures. This is a point to which we are all responsible. For we must never forget, that our thoughts are the mirros in which we see ourselves more clearly. So be kind with your words and compliment more than you criticize. Help yourself and your children to see their ‘failures’ as learning opportunities on the road to success. Maintain an unyielding confidence in all efforts and give your children or yourself the unconditional support necessary need to thrive.
Living a life of excellence will mean many things for many people. While it is not my job to define anyone else’s dream, i took this professional role as a way to help others overcome obstacles and achieve their dreams. Many of us fail to contemplate our lives in retrospect. But it is exactly in the practice of doing so, that we can let go of the invisible barriers that stand before us. Indeed, we can learn a lot about living from those who are dying. Trace whispers of the deceased plead my mantra: make it count, make it count. Make every effort to live your life to the fullest because its all over before many even had a chance to make a start.