Mr. Selters drove the bus I rode to elementary school for the first few years I lived in Florida. He was an odd, but wonderful man, and we loved him and loved riding his bus. He examined our report cards every six weeks as we boarded his bus, and awarded those with straight “A’s” a precious silver dollar. Although I was a good student and earned A’s, I never received a silver dollar from Mr. Selters. The problem every time was that “C” I got in penmanship.
Years later, I nearly won an award for having made straight “A’s” through all three years of junior high. One “B” from one six-weeks’ reporting period prevented that. It seems that I was penalized a full letter grade for failing to practice the minimum three hours per week in band because I was on the road representing our school in the regional basketball playoffs. There just wasn’t enough time that week.
Although I was quite disappointed that I didn’t win that academic award at the time, it was why I didn’t win that bothered me most. You see, I self-reported my practice time and was penalized a letter grade for being honest. I only missed the minimum practice time for a full week by 20 minutes, but that was apparently enough to end my perfect streak.
So, my grades weren’t quite good enough to earn a silver dollar from Mr. Selters or win the “Straight A” award in junior high, but I didn’t allow disappointment to destroy my self-esteem. Recognition for excellence, especially during one’s youth, is a wonderful thing, but it’s not everything. Failing to live up to one’s own expectations is far more damaging than failing to meet someone else’s standards. And understanding that many things in life are beyond our control is important. Keeping things in perspective is important. Being comfortable with who you are is important. Character is important. Winning and losing with grace is important. And understanding that life brings challenges is most important.
I never thought of myself as “not quite good enough” even when I missed out on a couple of things that were important to me at the time. Sometimes things don’t go your way, but that’s life, and it’s important to recognize that you’re still a winner, even when you don’t take home the prize.
“What are stumbling blocks and defeat to the weak and vacillating
are but steppingstones to victory to the determined soul.”
Orison Swett Marden