My hands shook as I opened the envelop from the University. Was a miracle about to happen, I wondered?
Having gone from being in court as juvenile offender, to being on the court as an Olympic hopeful in shot put, discus, and powerlifting, I wondered if the later might score me an opportunity at an education.
Sure, I could start off at a community college, but my newfound dream was acceptance to a University. I say “newfound” because I had never thought I’d graduate high school, much less go to college!
The letter was long, and included lots of stipulations, which I glossed over, until I found the word, “Accepted.”
The excitement ran through my body in much the same way I witness every time some brave soul stands before the judges on The Voice.
Frankly, I didn’t care that I wasn’t “fully accepted,” or that I couldn’t get financial aid, live on campus, take a full class load, or play sports for the first year-and-a-half.
The Challenge Program was about proving myself. Did I have what it took to succeed, academically?
Truthfully, a part of me hoped I could squeak by on charisma, and I honestly didn’t know if I could succeed in the classroom.
After my first college algebra class, I remember being seriously concerned about my fate as a college student.
“A ‘pie?’ Don’t you eat those?” I asked Jan, my teacher, only after every student left the room.
A heated debate turned into a promise, and I ended up in her office every day after class. That was 15 hours a week of math. Yuck!
But I was given a challenge, and a chance to do something with it.
I showed up every day, completed the program, went on to mentor other challenge students, and wound up with two undergraduate degrees and a masters degree.
I don’t say that to brag. I say it because it’s replicable.
I say it because there’s a reason people step up to achieve something that’s great. And, there’s a reason people give up and settle for mediocrity in themselves, and others.
So, what are the ingredients that made this story, and others just like it, a success?
Yes, that’s it. Well, kinda.
Plenty of students failed out of the program. And, many others are failing every day in the corporate world.
But, here’s the deal. The most successful people on the planet challenge themselves, their team, and everyone around them to achieve something specific that’s great.
Without the challenge, provoking greatness is nearly impossible. Miracles do happen, and that’s why I say “nearly.”
Provoking greatness on purpose requires a challenge, and while it is not without ego, it is not about ego.
Want to experience your own greatness? Give yourself a challenge. Want to provoke greatness others, give them a challenge – a reason to rise, as I like to say.