When I wrote my book Enjoy the Ride, I made the observation that “Life provides every opportunity to get it right.” We can start over. If we have failed, we can always try again.
As I write these words yet again, my suspicion is that some of you might be thinking, “Oh, that’s easy for you to say, Steve, but I’ve messed up so many opportunities and lost so much time that I sometimes feel like it’s useless.”
I don’t believe for a single minute that your life is hopeless! Yes, we can all get knocked down and knocked around, and, indeed, we can encounter roadblocks, but that should never mean we cannot strive to have a sense of inner peace and greater accomplishment than we’ve previously known. If we have made mistakes in the past, we can learn from them and achieve a higher sense of balance to avoid missing our next opportunity.
While it is true that the time we have lost cannot be replaced, and also true that we cannot travel back in time to do things over, I firmly believe it is never too late to pursue new opportunities no matter how modest or grand they may seem.
Please let me be gently clear here! If you wanted to be an NBA basketball player when you were 18 and gave up on your dream, I am not suggesting that 50 years later you can shock the world by starting for the Charlotte Hornets! However, there are still many other opportunities that can turn into reality.
What Really Matters
It is my belief that the key to pursuing new opportunities is to get your life’s priorities in order. Prioritizing your life includes achieving a healthy balance in our relationships with our families and friends.
For example, there is nothing wrong with starting a new business, but in talking to thousands of entrepreneurs, I have learned that their greatest regret was not the big deal they missed, but the time they lost being with the ones they loved. I speak from familiarity. My two sons Stephen and Josh, nieces Krystal and Heidi, and nephew Brock grew up, and I missed too many occasions to share special moments. Time is so very precious.
Pursuing new endeavors is another chance to do right, not repeat the same mistakes. Don’t again neglect your family or your friends. Don’t neglect your health or your spiritual life, either. You can never make the same mistake twice. The second time it’s no longer a mistake, it’s a choice. Balance is essential. We rarely succeed at anything unless we have fun doing it.
It’s Never Too Late
Let’s talk for a minute about a woman named Colette Bourlier. Her remarkable story came across my desk just today. As her name might imply, Colette lives in France. Colette just earned her Ph.D. in history. That’s a pretty tough feat at any age, but Colette is 91! At 91, she had to hobble in front of an academic committee to defend her thesis. As she defended the thesis over the two-hour cross-examination, she had to sit very close to the panel, as she is going deaf. She would not be denied. Indeed, the thesis defense called on her to introduce a large volume of very complex material. Her professor stated:
“She is probably the only person who knew all the aspects in such detail and who was able to weave everything together. She backed it up with statistical analyses.”
By the way, she did not start the pursuit of the doctorate until she had retired at 61!
Still not impressed? The academicians marked Dr. Bourlier’s thesis with the grade of “High Distinction,” and, though this should not surprise anyone, she is the oldest woman in France ever to earn a Ph.D.
Faith In Yourself
What fascinates me the most about Colette Bourlier is the fact that the thesis took so long for her to research and write. When questioned about this, she succinctly stated:
“It took a bit of time to write because I took breaks.” I guess one might conclude that she enjoyed the ride.
Were those breaks due to family commitments? Did she go on extended vacations? Was she pursuing hobbies? She didn’t say, but what is apparent is that she kept her life balance, she continued pursuing her dream, and she refused to quit. Colette kept her priorities in order.
What can you be doing right now? If you have ever heard me speak, then you know I am grounded in reality. I understand that you may not be able to change your life in any way you want right now. There are real limits in most people’s lives, and personal development isn’t magic that can fix just about anything quickly and easily. However, you can do what you can do with what you have where you are right now if you have balance and faith in yourself.
As for Dr. Bourlier, I have little doubt that she is thinking about her next project!