“I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.” (Albert Einstein)


Imagine my surprise when a 92-year-old woman asked to have a counseling session with me this last week. Figuring that it would probably not be about her marriage, her workplace, or her career plans, I was fairly confident it would be about a relationship (“Martha is driving me crazy!”) or something to do with a telemarketer’s offer.

As we sat on her comfy couch and had cookies and coffee, she began to tell me of her personal growth over the past three years.  She told me about her negative mindset and the problems it had created over the course of her life. She told of the weekend in 2008 when she read in the Bible:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

When she read it “all the lights came on” and she determined that negative thinking would no longer dominate her life and how in the last three years she had been transformed.

It was a lovely story.  But I was a unsure of exactly why she had called me – maybe she just needed a listening ear.

She reached out and she touched my arm.  “I still have so much growing to do in other areas.  I need someone to help me be brave. I need someone to help me keep on track.  Would you coach me a little bit?”

I was sort of thinking/hoping that there would be this golden moment in life where there would be a sense of everything coming together and for one brief shining moment I could say there’s nothing more to accomplish.  My sweet friend, and new client, reminded me that there’s always opportunity and time to reach for an even better life.  There’s always room to grow.

(permission was given to share this story, and changes were made to protect my friend’s identity)


In perfection, there is always comparison with an external factor – another person, a previous attempt, a degree of accuracy.  It connotes judgment, the rendering of a formal, authoritative opinion. This is acceptable when it comes to matters of law, finance or the manufacture of a product.  It is shaming when used to define a person’s value or a person’s abilities.

Most dictionaries define excellence within the realm of a talent being possessed or a quality being achieved. And while excellence does imply the surpassing of a standard, that standard is not about attaining a goal but rather acheiving a  consistent demonstration — of going beyond what is required, of surpassing the expected, of contributing value.

Perfection allows for either success or failure. There is nothing more.

Choosing to expect exellence, from ourselves and others, always provides opportunities for advancement and expansion.


Actor Kevin Spacey gives a very insightful response regarding success in this YouTube clip:


2 thoughts on ““I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.” (Albert Einstein)”

  1. In 2003, when I was considering quitting a good job and heading to college at 45, a lot of people thought I was nuts. My husband, Al, had less than 10 years to retirement, why would I want to start a new career?? I had had the luxury of staying home with my children, even home-schooling for a time, why would I want to do more?

    My inspiration for change was Al’s Aunt Marcelle. Marcelle and her husband John had successfully raised a family of 11 (ELEVEN!!!) children over a period of about 40 years (I considered that an amazing feat in itself), but Marcelle wasn’t done. She went to college, got her degree, and became a loving, caring, intensely involved counselor for abused women. Retired now, she was able to spent a number of years making an incredible difference in the lives of numerous women.

    So… not having a clue what I was “going to do when I [grew] up”, I went to community college, then 4 year, got my Bachelor of Science degree, then went on to get a Master’s degree in, of all things, Culture & History, with a focus on archaeology. After six years in college I graduated in 2009, at the height of the economic disaster, spent a year unemployed but not idle. I managed to start a small business, do a few jobs for people getting my name around. Eventually a friend contacted me about a position at her company, on a project in the eastern part of the state. Was I interested?

    Oh yeah, I took the job. But, again, people thought we were crazy. Al stayed home, I took the job away from home, and established a second residence on the other side of the mountains — extreme weekend commuting. I’ve been at it for 1 1/2 years now and have been tempted to ‘jump ship’ many times (I love the job, hate the travel), but every time the Lord has cautioned me to be patient. Now, I’m glad I did. Things are opening up, my situation in the company is changing, I may be able to live at home more — and still do what I love. In the midst of a gloom and doom economy, we are doing well.

    All this to say, we can choose to live by the conventions set by society around us, feel hemmed in by our situation, and worry about the future. OR we can choose to learn, grow, and continue the journey into the unknown.

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