I am sure 9 people out of 10 could readily complete my title statement with… THE TOUGH GET GOING!!!!
Easier said than done. The truth about life is that when you decided that you are going to strive for greatness and balance in all areas, things get extremely difficult. I don’t know about you but I will not be someone who settles for mediocrity whether it is my career, my health, my faith, my relationships, or even my leisure time. I want it all to be positive and fulfilling. Yet I don’t wanna stop there…I want to have the best of the best in all these areas as well.
When the decision is made to want the best in ALL areas, life can get difficult and overwhelming very fast. Why? Because the best of the best and the most rewarding in life is achieved not overnight but with great struggle over time. It is a fact that the greatest and most rewarding things this life has to offer are also the most difficult to achieve.
One example of this in my own life is my career choice to become a dentist. I decided early on in my undergraduate career that this was the path I wanted. I see my Dad’s life…he works 3 days a week, makes a comfortable and steady income and my Mom has never had to work a day in her life. He has always been there for me to be a Father. Finding greatness in a career I believe is about balance. It is not about where you will be able to make the most money. The greatest joy and happiness found in this life are with family relationships and so a great career should allow you to focus on family.
When I made the decision to become a dentist I was not alone. I went to a pre-dental class at Brigham Young University and it was packed. I talked to lots of my close friends and peers and it seemed like the “secret was out” so to speak as to what a great and rewarding career dentistry could be. Over time however my friends and peers seemed to drop like flies. Classes became more and more demanding and many just could not hang in there. To become a dentist not only do you have to achieve a high GPA in your science classes and pre-requisite classes of Chemistry, Biology and so on but you must have a great overall GPA as well. You have to take a Dental Admissions Test and put together a well-rounded application complete with job shadowing and research, volunteer and service hours, and extracurricular activities. It is daunting to say the least. The first time I applied to dental school I applied to 14 schools and got interviews at 5 schools. My GPA and test score was borderline but I was a strong candidate for being well-rounded, having competed in NCAA Division 1 Men’s Volleyball while at BYU, served a two-year mission for my church in Ecuador, and having worked as an oral surgeon lab assistant for two summers. I thought I killed every interview and then I didn’t get accepted to a single school. I was defeated. I had worked my whole life for the opportunity to go to school and yet I was rejected. My worst nightmare had come true…
Then I thought to myself, WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH…
The tough get going! I decided to reapply. During the reapplication process I continued to mold myself as a person. I decided I wanted to switch sports and play semi-professional basketball. I got to play for short amounts of time overseas in Austria, with the Utah Flash of the D-League and then on a tour team through China. I went on a dental humanitarian trip to Peru and Colombia and did a field research project on a terrorist organization called the Shining Path while I was there. I participated in suicide research at the Utah Medical Examiners office in Salt Lake City. I studied and retook the DAT examination and got a higher score. I resubmitted my application and only got two interviews this time. I was so nervous. January 13th 2011 was one of the happiest days of my life. I had just left my interview with Midwestern University in Phoenix, Arizona. I got a phone call from the other school I interviewed at and they told me I had been accepted. Then, literally 5 minutes later I got another phone call from Midwestern telling me to come up to the admissions office… They asked me, “Why do you think we would have called you so quickly? (rejections usually come in the form of snail mail letters)…”Uh maybe to tell me I am accepted…” I said hesitantly…”That’s right” the admissions counselor reaffirmed. “Congratulations!” I could not believe my ears. I went from having my hopes and dreams shattered to getting accepted to two schools simultaneously!!! Best day of my life so far!!!
Now I am in dental school and the road has only gotten more rough. I have completed the first year of basic science curriculum and each day is challenging. I have pulled more all-nighters than I ever had in the previous years of my life combined. I am going into heavy financial debt. This summer I am studying to take a National Board exam which is pass/fail and is a comprehensive standardized test encompassing everything that was crammed into my head this first year. To me a multiple choice test and studying long hours alone to prepare is a nightmare. My mind runs a million miles an hour, I am traditionally not a good test taker and I have never been diagnosed but I swear I have ADD. yet again I have had to complete the statement… WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH…
I know it will all be worth it one day. My Dad said it best, “I sacrificed my twenties, for great thirties and forties…” The greatest reward is being able to share in my career choice with my Dad. He is my hero and I could not ask for a greater mentor.
I share my life not to boast or so that you can all throw me some kind of pity party… I do it simply to illustrate a point. If the road was not extremely difficult, then everyone would be doing it!!! The greatest and most rewarding things in life are the most difficult. To achieve greatness, we must be willing to have the courage to face our greatest fears. We must have the courage when we fail or get discouraged or knocked down to get back up again. We must reach deep inside and decide for ourselves what we really want out of life. I could have given up at any point along the way…but I didn’t.
Natural reactions in life to stress or difficulty are to run away, give up or settle for something lesser and easier. I don’t blame anyone for this reactions because they all have substantial reasons.
Along the path to success we will all be stretched and tried and at times overwhelmed and discouraged. It is going to happen. We might even find ourselves at the bottom of a dark pit with no hope. There is always hope however if you believe in yourself and FIND THE GREATNESS WITHIN YOU.
Success will come not through never-failing, but with each failure a stirring conviction to get back up again. So as we all strive to find our greatness in life I would plead for us to dig deep. What are we willing to settle on in life? Will we sacrifice a future loving family and kids for a lucrative career? Will we let our health slide in order to dedicate more time to work? Will we sacrifice true love for something less than great? Will we give up the blessings that come from Christ and living a life dedicated to serving others? Questions like these and many more are what we need to ask ourselves. We will all come to a personal crossroads time and time again… which path will we take? There is a famous poem by Robert Frost entitled,
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I want to take “the road less traveled.” I will not settle for mediocrity in any one area of my life. Therefore I expect my life to be one of great challenges. I expect to have my very worst fears thrown in my face. I know that if I did deep and find the greatness within and through Christ that I will be able to overcome.
There is a story in the Book of Mormon about missionaries who were called to go and teach a very wicked and hopeless people. In one of their own words,
“Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turnback, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.” (Alma 26:27)
Every time that the going gets tough I hope and pray that I will have the courage to respond with ACTIONS that I will get going!!! I will be on the front lines ready to face the opposition no matter how fierce or scary it may appear. I want to be relied upon and counted on.
I take comfort in the words of a modern-day apostle of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. His name is Henry B. Eyring and this is a link to his talk entitled, “Mountains to Climb.”
The answers are all in Christ… What if he would have quit on us? He didn’t. He took the road only one can travel. And that has made all the difference.