In his book, The Life God Blesses, Gordon MacDonald tells a story about his experiences on the track team at the University of Colorado. In particular, he remembers the difficult workouts he did with a teammate named Bill. “To this day I have anguished memories of our workouts each Monday afternoon,” says Gordon. “When those Monday workouts ended, I would stagger in exhaustion to the locker room.” But Bill was different. When he was finished, he would rest on the grass near the track. But after about 20 minutes, while Gordon showered, Bill repeated the entire workout!
Bill didn’t consider himself to be an exceptional athlete in college. “I was not a great athlete,” observed Bill. “But I had a ‘bag of tricks theory,’ that is, there is no one big move you can make in your training or in competition, but there are thousands of little things you can do.”
Bill might not have made a great impact during his college years, but his discipline and desire paid off over time. Through disciplined effort and continual improvement, the unspectacular college athlete who had worked out with Gordon MacDonald became the world-famous athlete, Bill Toomey, the decathlete inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984.
What elevated Bill to such high accomplishments was his discipline. Gordon MacDonald’s insight says it all: “The difference between the two of us began on Monday afternoons during workout. He was unafraid of discipline and did the maximum; I was afraid of discipline and did the minimum.”
Story courtesy of Anchor.
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As a child, Guo Youming’s mother noticed that he walked unsteadily and had frequent falls. His condition worsened until he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age seven. The diagnosis was crushing for Youming’s parents, who struggled with guilt and grief as they learned that there was no cure. Youming said that he also wanted to despair, but he realized that he would only be making life harder for his parents. Instead, he refused to let his condition limit him and determined, he says, to “do my best and smile bravely.” At nine years old, he became unable to walk and was confined to a wheelchair. As his muscles atrophied, his limbs lost all function. Today, his mother assists him with eating, using the bathroom, taking a shower, and other basic tasks.
Although Youming had to rely on his mother to wheel him into class, he insisted on never being absent. His positive and buoyant attitude made him a favorite among classmates and teachers, who admired his victorious outlook on life while living with a steadily worsening condition.
At age 26, Youming can only ingest liquids and relies on a respirator to make it through each day. His rapidly declining physical strength didn’t even last through his own graduation ceremony. Yet he passed his oral exam with outstanding marks and earned a master’s degree in Chinese literature. Literature is Youming’s passion, and his thesis is a collection of his poems and other works. It is 100,000 words long, a monumental achievement for Youming, who is only able to type ten words per minute for ten minutes each day, lying on his back and using a mouse to tap on a special keyboard. Youming hopes to pass the civil servant exam in the future.
“We cannot choose our fate,” says Youming, “but we can choose how we face our fate. If life seems meaningless, then we must give it meaning. Whether we pass a day in sorrow or in joy, we still have to live through the day. Why not live it with joy? As long as I don’t give up on myself, God and others won’t give up on me.”
Story courtesy of Activated magazine.
Image from https://www.nownews.com/news/20170714/2588753
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