In my early years, I was fortunate to have people in my life that believed in me and pushed me to do more. Because they helped me see beyond the limits I’d set for myself, I learned a valuable lesson: I can do more than I think.
Back in my early teens in 4-H, I was very fortunate have A.T. Andrews as my 4-H leader. He was a man who taught by example. I often played softball against him at 4-H summer camp. Each year, the adult leaders would take-on the campers and the competition was fierce! We, the young whippersnappers, wanted to show the adults that we were younger and stronger. The adults often got the better of us by playing smarter and taking those calculated risks that come with experience. And, it was Mr. Andrews who was the most ‘instructive’.. When he hit a routine single, he invariably would go for making it a double or make what appeared to be a double into a triple or a home run! He was tenacious! He did much more than we young whippersnappers thought that an ‘old man’ in his late 30’s could ever do! His performance challenged us boys to play at a higher level for sure.
In my later teen years, while a member of my high school football team, I remembered my lessons from Mr. Andrews when I was challenged to do more than than I thought I could do. First, you need to know that the year before, we’d only won only one game. Coach Gutierrez, determined to vastly improve our performance on the playing field, challenged us to physically train like we hadn’t done before. At the beginning of the year, indeed, he told the team, that things were going to be different and that “a lot of you will likely quit and turn in your equipment; and, that’s OK because we are going to find out who really wants to win this year. We just want the winners on this team!”
All I knew that I was NOT going to be a quitter and that I would do whatever was needed to be a winner!
Little did I know Coach would challenge us like he did! One day in particular at the end of a long, hot afternoon practice, we were, as usual, to run a lap thru the goal posts and meet him at the entrance to the locker room. On this particular day, he gave us a little pep-talk. “You are doing pretty good, but if you really want to win games this year, you need to do more than you have been doing and more that you think you can.” He ended his pep talk by yelling: “I want one more lap thru the goal posts from everyone that’s a winner!” Most of us took off running the 400 yards that was all uphill. Along the way, some guys just quit, walked back and turned in their gear. Those of us who completed the lap, met Coach again at the entrance to the locker room. He commended those of us who made it and said, “Now, we’re going to find out who are the winners - so those of you who REALLY want to win, give me another lap!” Without hesitation, most of us headed back up the hill. After a hard practice, this was physically challenging and there were moments I thought I might not make it. Thinking of my 4-H leader, I told myself, “I can do more than I think I can, and I will!” And, that was all it took. I completed another lap - hot and tired - but feeling the victory of doing something I originally thought was beyond my abilities.
At our practices, I started mentally reciting one of my father’s favorite poems:
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost certain you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you've lost.
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will.
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed, you are.
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster person.
But sooner or later the person who wins
Is the one who thinks they can.
The result of our hard work and our believing “we can’ was just one loss in regular season. Our team members did more than they originally may have thought possible!
This mantra of, “you can do more than you think” has also helped me through tough times in my business career. At a time when my markets were struggling, I evaluated the problem and then decided that in order to be successful I needed to expand my operation; to do something that ‘conventional wisdom’ thought feasible. I borrowed all the money the banks would loan me and tripled the size of my Macon market as well as did extensive renovations to both markets, all the time saying to myself, “I can do it and I WILL do it!” I knew I would do whatever it took to be successful. Yes, it took a lots of hard work and long hours, which is part of factor, but I always kept the ‘faith’ because I was determined! Today, the markets are highly successful. And not just successful for me, but for our vendors and for our customers too!
Much of my success I attribute to those who guided me, encouraged me and coached me to do more! To Coach Mike Gutierrez, I will always be most appreciative! And, to Mr. A.T. Andrews, I’m so grateful that he was in my life! We remained friends throughout the years and all along the way he was a tremendous encourager until his passing this past year.
You too can do more than you is possible. My challenge to you this week is to read and re-read the poem, “If.” Because “the person who wins is the one who thinks they can.”
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