“Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” Art Linkletter
Today is the day when my family moves into the first home we ever owned. My wife Carol and our two daughters, Kelly and Kim, spend the day moving furniture and boxes into our new residence on Church Street in Mobile, Alabama. The first goal of moving is to transport everything into the house. Unpacking may take weeks, possibly months. It is late in the afternoon when the last box is deposited on the crowded living room floor. Exhausted, I walk out on the front porch, sit down and contemplate what has just happened. For over an hour I reflect on how special it feels to be a homeowner, for the first time in my life. First times happen only once and this one is special!
Looking back, I remember that day as one of the best days in my life and that moment on the porch as unforgettable. Was it the best day ever? No, I can think of others that rank higher, my wedding day being one. I can still remember Carol walking down the aisle of the church and the thoughts that raced through my mind about what we were getting ready to do. As good as my first day in our new home might have been, my wedding day beat that one by a large margin.
What was your best day? Leaving aside any ranking order, what are the 10 best days in your life? If we make such a best day list, it might include wedding days, religious celebrations, graduations, promotions, raises, births, and being on a team that wins a special sports game. I played in a baseball game that changed my entire life, which is the subject of my new book, The BET. That day really does rank high.
When you determine your best days, did you factor in the days when the best that you could achieve was just survival? Maybe, it was your business and you did not have to close the doors. I have been there before. A disaster struck and you solved it! Someone had a problem and you were able to make a difference. Maybe, it was someone in the hospital who survived a surgery. Or, you came in tenth, but you finished. It could have been a moment that was very challenging and yet you got through it. No certificates, trophies, awards or money. A lot less in recognition, but a lot more in meaning. Would any of these days be on your list? Should they be?
This day is one of the toughest days of my life. Carol enters the hospital for an emergency. It is Easter Friday, 2012. For the next 10 days, I sleep little, pray often and worry constantly. The stroke diagnosis hits both of us like a huge wave at the Gulf crashing down on our vulnerable lives. We are numbed by the news as we struggle to figure out what this means now and what it may mean in the future.
I am not going to tell you that those days in the hospital were anything close to best days. I never want to go back there again, but realize there is always a possibility. I can say with honesty that those were some of the most challenging days in my entire life, and at the same time, some of the closest moments I have shared with Carol – and we have been together a long time. I would give back all the pain and trouble in a flash, but I would not want to trade the closeness, and the understanding that I now have about our relationship. All relationships in my life have taken on increased significance since that Easter event. But yet, it was not a very good day.
I will receive a diploma on very few days in my life. I got married only once. The opportunity for a promotion or raise occurs on a limited number of days in your professional career. If I win the championship, that is only going to happen rarely. Those will be great days. And, they should be celebrated and remembered. But, most of the days of my life will not be those ‘so-called’ best days.
What will I do on the days when the great victories are not to be won – when the cards that I have been dealt are not so hot? When those in my family do things that they should not do? When my back is to the wall? When people that I care about make mistakes? When life throws me a curve in the form of sickness, loss and challenge? When I am facing a great and monumental change in my life? When I go to the hospital on Easter Friday? On my toughest days, who is going to show up? On the day no one ever wants to experience, who will I be? Will I be my best? Life is asking us all of these questions. What are your answers?
My definition of success is to be and become the best at what I am meant to be and do in my life. Being the best means . . . right now. On the day of victory, my best day, and the day of great challenge, I have a chance to be my best. Success is not money, fame or glory, or a list of great victories. Those things may come as a result of your being at your best. But, success is simply being the best, the best me possible. The person that I am destined to be. The person I was always meant to be.
Giving my all on those best days now looks easy through the eyes of experience and history. Others may be impressed with me as I receive my ‘award’ on the easy day. On the other days, when my life is filled completely with challenge, will I also be my best? I want to be. I need to be. I have looked at those days now through the lens of what really matters. And with this new perspective I live with much hope.
Don’t wait for those special and yet very few days on your list. And don’t stand in fear of the challenging days. There are so many more, and all of them deserved to be lived.
Today, I have been given a miracle, an opportunity, a chance. Tomorrow has not yet been given to me. I have today. What matters is not its ranking or whether it is great or challenging. What matters the most is who is going to show up.
I often sign an email or letter with these words. You now know why . . .
My Best Always,