One of her favorite sayings was that even if I should chose to dig ditches for living, I should strive for being the best ditch digger in the world.
I took mother's advice to heart. Whatever goals I have chosen, I have refused to accept anything less than my personal best in pursuit of them.
Sometimes I have been really good at things when the timing for being truly successful was close to impossible. That has never stopped me from doing my best over the last several decades.
Doing your best and mastering things to the point of being really good at something is actually a recipe for living well. It is also a path to a lot of personal satisfaction. At times the road to that personal fulfillment is paved with a tremendous amount of hard work but I have found it well worth the effort. At this point I cannot live any other way. If I take on a task for someone, they will get my best and only my best.
I have never gotten to the point of abandoning my pursuit of excellent, and I have managed to make it far enough along the road to feel that I can be proud of what I achieved. I have also learned three things.
To be really successful at something, your heart has to be in it and you have to really want the result you are chasing.
There are times when you need to say "No." If a goal is not important to you personally, you will have a hard time delivering the kind of effort required to achieve the level success that will make you hungry for success the next time.
True success is addictive. When you have achieved it, you want to do it again and will be hungry for your next opportunity.
You will know those opportunities for success that fit your skills by the enthusiasm and unstoppable energy that seem to magically arise from within you just as you get to the point that others often turn back. You will have the willpower to make it over the mountain that often defeats people who have learned to accept less of themselves.
Relentless excellence and success is a little like being a wave in the ocean trying to reach beyond the high tide mark. Many waves make the effort but only a few actually throw themselves at the beach with enough power to get beyond the point in the sand where other waves run out of energy and are stopped.
Life is a challenge but our choices can make it better. Success brings an opportunity to live where you want and we have chosen a piece of coastal paradise that lets us have a life without walls for much of the year. That same beautiful environment has taught us to take only pictures and leave only footprints.