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Pushover to Pioneer
BE EXCELLENT RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE
In the present age of Youtube stars and Instagram models, it seems there is more pressure than ever before for people, especially young people, to seek overnight success or stardom. And we all want to put our best foot forward on social media. In our attempts to “look” successful, we also compare our path to others who seem to have what we want. But in doing so, we lose sight of the process.
The process of becoming our best–who we are meant to be–is not simply a series of greater and greater successes. Instead, it is a series of lessons. As students in school, we are taught lessons and then take a test. But in life, we go through tests and then learn the lessons. Sometimes those tests involve setbacks, failures and disappointments. Sometimes they come in the form of long, dry periods where nothing seems to be happening. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you as you go through these times is this: be excellent right where you are.
Shortly after my literal “come to Jesus” moment in the spring of 1997, I won the title of Miss Oklahoma. Being a beauty queen was the last thing I ever thought would happen to me. But once it became a goal of mine I set out to achieve it. That time in my life was surreal. It was a huge blessing, but it was also one of the most difficult years of my life. I had to fight to break out of my old “people pleasing” patterns fueled by fear. Each day I focused on purpose, forgiveness and gratitude. After competing in the Miss America pageant and completing my reign with a statewide speaking tour, I had to go back to real life…which involved finishing school and looking for a job.
Being Miss Oklahoma was glorious, but being Miss Oklahoma also meant I had to put law school on hold for an entire year. And during that year I also lost out on internships that would have solidified my future with a law firm. So when I went back to my last year of law school, instead of being a legal intern I found myself working at the mall. Selling make up. Glamorous, right? I remember one evening, just before Christmas, being on my knees in the basement of a department store, re-stocking inventory. My mind was drifting back to the year before when I was riding in Christmas parades, waiving to crowds, signing autographs and wearing my shiny crown. Now I was in a dark basement, wearing a make-up stained navy blue smock, stocking moisturizer. I was sleeping on a friend’s couch because I couldn’t afford rent on my hourly wage. I was embarrassed for people to see me like this. I cried out to God, “Why? Why am I going backward instead of forward? Will I ever be successful again?” In that moment, something rose up inside me. “Be excellent right where you are.”
Everything you go through prepares you to become who you are meant to be. I now look back and am thankful for the humbling moments. I am even thankful for the tough times and the painful experiences, because they made me stronger and taught me lessons I never would have learned if life had always been easy. In each phase of my life, I have had a choice to make: get bitter and give up, or dedicate myself to being the best I can be in that time and place. And by making the better choice, with a thankful heart, I have continued to move toward my destiny.
So where are you right now? Are you being excellent in that place (even if the tasks are mundane), grateful for the opportunities? Or are you bitter? You have a choice to make. And that choice will either keep you stuck or move you towards a better future. Make the right one!