“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill [Click to Tweet.]
“How you doing?”
The gentleman asking had a southern drawl.
We were on a flight from Atlanta to Detroit. On most flights you sit down, offer a quick, awkward hello to your seatmates and the conversation ends there.
“Doing great today, thanks. How are you doing?” I said.
“I am blessed and highly favored. If I was doing any better I’d unbuckle this seatbelt, stand up in the aisle, and dance with one of the flight attendants. Man, life is just that good.”
Charles shared that he was on his way to spend a week visiting his grandchildren in Lansing, MI.
He then went on to share his life story. And what a story.
His family, during his childhood, was impoverished, but didn’t know it. He joined the military the day he graduated high school. He ran his own business afterwards. Raised five children. Was enjoying spoiling his 11 grandchildren even more. Recently, he’d lost his wife to cancer after 44 years together.
Retired now, life wasn’t always perfect, but it was a very good life.
As he shared his story, at least five separate times he used the same expression:
I asked him where it came from. Charles said it was a mantra he learned in the military. To finish every training exercise, every run, every mission, focused, poised, passionate. Strong.
It served him well in the army. And, he said, it served him well in his business, in his parenting, and now in his retirement. It drove him forward through difficult days, through immense grief, through mighty challenges and toward his possibility, toward his potential, toward opening the gift within each day.
My friends, Charles pulled me away from what I wanted to do on that flight. I wasn’t able to catch up on email. And I also had to stay up late that night to hit a writing deadline that I was supposed to meet while on the flight.
And yet what we I was reminded by my time with Charles is that in opening myself up to the wisdom of others, I am shown what real success is all about. [Click to Tweet.]
Life demands continuous effort.
To remain on fire spiritually, physically, at work or at home is not the effect of raw strength or intelligence or good luck.
No, true vibrancy in relationships, effectiveness in our work, and real success in life are the results of persistence, faithfulness, resilience, focus, optimism, love and the daily choice to do a little more today than we chose to do yesterday.
Thanks for the reminder, Charles.