Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Fascinating Story




Last weekend B's cousin, Matt and his wife Marilee, stayed with us while attending a conference here in San Antonio.  It was great to spend more time with them, especially Marilee as we had only met briefly once or twice.  Marilee and I mommed it up together for a couple days--although with only a baby in tow and 4 kiddos left behind she hardly knew what to do with herself--and it's safe to say a friendship was born.  It was also fun to be around Matt as he's the closest thing B has to a brother.  I find it rather insightful to hang out with people who knew your spouse as a child.  There were good stories being shared and a great vibe all around.  There was one story in particular that I've been thinking about over and over.  

During dinner one evening Matt says to B, Did you know that when I was in middle school your dad once offered me $50 if I got straight A's on my report card?  I had never really gotten good grades before, but all I could think about was that $50.  So I worked really hard, I even had to stop sitting by my friends in class and everything, but I did it...I got straight A's.  From that point on, all the way through college, I got straight A's.  It changed my life.    

Isn't that amazing?  Seriously just mull that over for a second... a $50 incentive in middle school that changed the course of someone's life.  The non-conformist and underachiever in me says grades aren't everything and there is a lot more to a person's intelligence and character than the grades they get in school.  I so get that.  And maybe you're against paying a kid to get good grades or maybe your wondering how could I get my kid to do that?  But to me this story isn't about any of that, to me this is an amazing story about the ability to change, about tapping into our hidden, unknown potential.  Matt said he had never really gotten good grades before--I didn't press for details so I don't know how 'not good' they were--but he went from getting not-so-good-grades to straight A's for the rest of his life.  The rest of his life.  Clearly he was the same person before the straight A's as he was after, he wasn't suddenly gifted with a new brain or an extra 8 hours in the day.  It seems that $50 was enough to push himself past his current habits of mediocrity into a world of hard work and ultimately success as he is now a dentist (I know...it runs in the family).  There's a good chance that without that experience Matt wouldn't be where he is today.  My guess is that once he knew what he was capable of he could no longer settle for anything less.  He said it himself, it changed my life.   

While getting my workout clothes on yesterday morning I thought about how I used to claim I wasn't someone who could work out in the morning.  No way.  Too early, my body was too achy and asleep to just jump into a strenuous work out.  Then one day I realized that was just something I told myself, I had never actually tried it.  And now look at me...I can work out in the morning.  Not exactly life changing, but it makes me wonder what else am I telling myself I can't do?  Sometimes I hear people proclaim they have no musical talent and I have to wonder, well did you ever take lessons?  Or the same with with art... I can't even draw a stick figure, but a lot of people I know have never really sat down and tried to draw something or better yet taken a class to learn that skill.  Not trying is a big difference between not having the talent.  Of course there are many people who take piano lessons and only a handful of them are virtuoso's, and certainly there are people who've never had one lesson but can draw, sing, or dance with exceptional natural talent...but still...what are we not exploring, doing, trying that we could actually be quite exceptional at?  Or what talents are we aware of but not doing anything about?  For me, it's art.  I used to draw all the time, as evidenced above, and now I'm scared to find out how much of my abilities still remain.  I know I tell myself I'm too busy, too tired or just plain incapable to do a lot of things but I wonder if someone come along and offer me a new car or something equally desirous what I could suddenly achieve. 


9 comments:

  1. That's a great story! Neat that it worked out like that.

    I'm right behind you with working out in the morning - turns out that all the years I was saying I couldn't do it, I just meant that I didn't WANT to do it.

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  2. I would LOVE to see more of your artwork! You are a very talented lady! Serious. :)

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  3. I love this post. I am going to go read it again. :> I so strongly second the idea. We have a kid with special needs and I hate to tell you, but a very very smart and prominent dr at a big children's research hospital actually said, "don't hope for much." I am sorry, but that not only makes me hope for much, it irritates me enough that I will work my butt off for much.

    I think we all have unlimited potential. ALL of us. We just have to explore it. We all top out at some point, but there is a big difference between topping out at Point A (not trying at all) and topping out at Point Z (trying with all you've got). That's 26 letters of difference! :>

    I am happy to report that our little Mr. "don't hope for much" is age 9, in the 4th grade at the public school with everyone else his age, and in a regular classroom, where he does 90% regular work (he is alas behind in math - but NOT MUCH). :>

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  4. i really love this post. needed to hear it. love you!

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  5. This is so true, and it makes me realize how lazy I have been by cutting myself short on my potential. This post was incredibly motivating for me, so thank you! (I want to work out in the mornings, too!)

    It also touches on what I was getting at in my last post. If only society would believe in my daughter as much as I do, she would be destined to have the same shot at success and reaching her full potential as anyone.

    And in response to your question - I would be honored to guest post on the topic of special needs. Just tell me what and when!

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  6. Thanks for the "what else am I telling myself I can't do" insight. That's a gem! Off to ponder that one...

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  7. This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank You! It made me think of when I first met Denny. He told me he just wasn't the creative type. What?!!? He then went on to graduate in film. There is a lot I've been telling myself lately that I can't do or don't have time to do. What it really means is I just need to try!

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  8. Linda P.6:12 PM

    Wow, great food for thought. Thanks, Miggy!

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  9. Your artwork is seriously beautiful. Do it for yourself!

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