“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
My daughter has a lump on the side of her face. I try to remain calm, but doing so requires constant reminders – constant affirmations to myself that everything will workout itself out. “It’s only an infection. Once the antibiotics kick in full strength, the lump will fade, and we can put this entire episode behind us.” I tell myself not to overreact, but this waiting game is sometimes more than I can bear.
Some days are better than others. Thankfully, I was raised on years of positive thinking because today was a day. I’m not quite sure what zapped my last bit of strength – trying to keep my eyes on the bigger picture when the interim church leadership delivered another pointless blow, rushing home to avoid feeling obligated to answer questions, attend committee meetings or rehearse, never stopping to breathe for even 10 minutes before delving into the next daily task head-on, subconsciously feeling guilty for taking a pass on tonight’s board meeting, or catastrophicly ending an otherwise perfect outing requiring an additional 30 minutes of clean-up and a missed football game. Whatever “it” was has left me feeling completely drained and simultaneously incompetent as a parent, leader, teacher, wife, and friend.
It is days like to day that I must focus on the fact that success is a habit. Success is an outlook, an attitude so to speak and not a specific destination. Life happens, and what happens is not nearly as important as our reaction to the chain of events. In Michael Irvin’s Hall of Fame speech, he notes
1.) Look up. My immediate thoughts returned to a book I read in high school by Zora Neal Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God. “The wind came back with triple fury and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.” The recognition that someone out there is bigger than me that somehow controls the ebbs and flows of both daily trials and triumphs is quite comforting. This way I can step outside of myself for a moment and rely on a force that can see the big picture and how this all comes together for my good in the end.
2) Get up. My favorite movie line of all time comes from Tyler’s Perry’s first movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Shemar Moore tells the leading lady, “Just wake up in the morning. I’ll take it from there.” Sometimes waking up in the morning is the only thing we can do. We may not know which direction to turn. We may not know which task to conquer or how to conquer it. Yet, if we can just get up, we have at least dared to look chaos in the face.
3) Don’t ever give up.
Success is a habit. A habit of never giving up. A habit of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. A habit of getting back up when life knocks you down. A habit of looking at the bigger picture when the immediate surroundings are too overwhelming. A habit of taking ordinary circumstances or even extraordinary circumstances and turning them into an extraordinary life.
Today was a great day. Despite a few shortcomings on the part of the interim leadership, the speaker at church was wonderful, and I actually enjoyed the message and overall service. I snuck out of church after it ended and returned home to a house full of children who screamed ecstatically with joy when I arrived. I skipped a migraine-inciting board meeting and instead enjoyed fresh air, a stroll down Magazine Street, and good food and conversation with one of my nearest and dearest friends. An untimely and unusual “potty” accident caused me to miss my husband’s game, but I instead got to enjoy 2 solid hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet. Today was the best day of my life…and I hear tomorrow will be even better.