I’ve been privileged to raise two children to adulthood. While I have experienced all the feelings of joy and frustration while raising my kids, I have not taken for granted the amazing opportunity to observe …
My oldest daughter, Caroline, is 27 and has set her sights on law school. Each day she is studying and getting incrementally better at mastering the LSAT—an exam she did well on the first time she took it and knows that if she does just a bit better, financial support for her education will come more easily. She does not miss a day of studying and balances this with her full-time job at a busy law firm in Indianapolis supporting multiple attorneys in their practice.
Caroline balances this pursuit of her dream by spending time with her friends and staying engaged with issues important to her. She is training for her first half marathon, she walks the dogs daily, and she continues to gain strength in her gym workouts throughout the week. She has developed the habit of excellence over a period of time that she might consider trial and error and it’s paying off.
My son, Will, is about to turn 24 years old. After his acute lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosis and serious battle to live starting at age 21, I did not know if I would see this day. Will exemplifies excellence. When Will was hospitalized, he constantly heard comments about his willingness to ride the Peloton bike even if he could only do it a few minutes. He walked laps after each meal. He practiced gratitude. He kept a schedule. Even when things were dire, he used his daily practice to provide structure and a sense of accomplish—all with the mindset of healing.
These days I watch Will wake at approximately the same time each day, down a first breakfast of nutbutter toast, a large honeycrisp apple, a handful of medications and supplements and 32 oz. of water. Then he does a strength and flexibility workout. He returns from his workout for a second breakfast and another 32 oz. of water. He completes his morning routine of reading, writing, studying and meditating. Lunch. More activities. Every day is planned to fit in all the things he needs to do and the things he wants to do—time with friends, gaming, long boarding.
Every day these two young adults commit to and complete the incremental steps that move them closer to realizing their dreams, even if they don’t feel like it. Excellence is their habit.
I’ve learned a lot from watching them. I admire their strength and tenacity. I bang my head against the wall in solidarity as they run into obstacles that can overwhelm them. I want to be more like them.
What incremental, baby step, do each of us need to take today to ensure we are moving closer to making our dreams come true? What small step do you need to take to become excellent at a new skill? What action, today, and repeated every day going forward, creates the ultimate excellent result?
As Steve Jobs said, “We don’t get a chance to do that many things. And every one should be really excellent. Because THIS is OUR life.”