If you ask most people how they are doing, they will respond by saying something like "Good."
What does that mean?
Well, for some people it could mean that they aren't suffering from any illnesses, they are still employed, not one of their children is in jail, and they still have a place to live. For them it would, perhaps, be more apt to say, "Not bad."
For an entrepreneur who has launched a successful new business, "Good" might mean instead that the business is growing 128 percent a year and is comfortably meeting its commitments to customers and investors.
There's obviously a huge gap between what "Good" means for someone who is trying to tread water in life and those who are seeking to accomplish as much as they can.
When you first think about the difference in those responses, it might seem better to be treading water in life so that it doesn't take much for things to be "Good."
A better approach can be to determine your personal satisfaction independent of your circumstances and results. In fact, some people will tell you that any day that they are alive is a "Good" day. Certainly, life itself provides many sources of joy that we should all cherish.
Let's go back to assessing how your life is going. Can accomplishing "Good" become a barrier to becoming "Great"? Certainly, if you are satisfied with "Not bad," you may not seek to learn whether anything else feels even better. Now that would be a mistake!
I was reminded of that point recently while corresponding with my faculty colleague at Rushmore University, Professor Colin Wimpory, LL.D., one of the most joyful people you could ever hope to meet. If you haven't yet had the pleasure, let me describe him.
Professor Wimpory's career started in banking, a field that some regard as less than thrilling. Instead, he saw this work as a great opportunity to meet lots of new people, to live and work in countries other than his native United Kingdom, and to develop new skills. As Colin explained to me, one of his greatest pleasures and satisfactions during these years was to learn as an adult to speak and read Spanish at a near-native level.
Just imagine that you could visit any Spanish-speaking country in the world and have delightful conversations with almost anyone there. Such a wonderful facility would certainly broaden your horizons and encourage you to try other challenges.
Well, that's just what happened. A successful international banking career was just Act I in Professor Wimpory's ever-expanding engagement with the wider world.
For Act II, he first obtained a Master's degree in Business Analysis from Lancaster, U.K. This learning encouraged him to begin thirteen years of face-to-face lecturing in business. In that capacity, he was instrumental in arranging student exchanges between UK and Spanish and Portuguese business schools. In the process, his international exposure and interests expanded.
One day while reading the "Economist," Colin noticed an intriguing advertisement for an online university. Although the notice was directed at potential students, Professor Wimpory inquired about teaching. He was accepted at Rushmore and has often assisted students whose first language was Spanish, starting with an Argentine gentleman, in addition to English-speaking learners.
Thus, Act III -- distance education -- began for Colin. Pleased with the teaching experience and how well his students did, he decided that it was time to do a substantial piece of scholarship that would enable him to become an even better teacher.
Professor Wimpory chose Rushmore to earn his Doctor of Laws degree, and the university was delighted to honor him with its very first doctorate. He found the experience to be as rewarding as mastering Spanish.
Today, Colin reports having tutored students in 65 countries, large and small. What an adventure distance learning has been for him!
Professor Wimpory continues to gain great enjoyment from taking on new challenges, as well as in improving how well he addresses existing ones. As he paraphrases the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, "You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are forever flowing in upon you."
His current teaching focuses on Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility, International & Offshore Banking and Financial Law, International Commercial Law (and Arbitration), and Multinational Corporate Strategy & Finance.
His interests certainly don't stop with banking, corporations, and finance. He has also studied Health Kinesiology and Resonance Repatterning, and finds Chinese Five-Element Theory both fascinating and highly useful. Islamic Spain and Islamic Finance also interest him.
Wanting to learn more and teach even more effectively, Professor Wimpory looks forward at some point to studying aspects of African and Australasian/Pacific wisdom.
His academic status is an especially broad one, supervising dissertations at a number of universities, reviewing the grading that other professors have done at these universities, and coaching Rushmore students so they can learn more.
In the course of this work, he exudes a boundless enthusiasm that reflects his high opinion of students who engage in distance learning: "They are keen types (very bright and determined to succeed)."
As for the future, he has a long time horizon... seeking to promote "learning-centered learning" and helping others create a better future. In doing so, he propounds the importance of increasing knowledge, enhancing skills and effectiveness, and reinforcing confidence.
As well as being attracted by countries large and small, Colin freely admits to relishing words long and short! -- whether in English or in Spanish -- and one of his most favorite quotations is from one of his own teachers (a native of Berlin): "How can I learn so much? Simple! The day has twenty-four hours; and, if that is not enough, one must study at night!"
What are the lessons for your life?
1. Appreciate the blessings every day that come from just being alive.
2. Set goals for accomplishing things that inspire and nourish you.
3. Improve upon what you already know and can do.
4. Expand the number of people you know and collaborate with.
5. Increase your communication skills.
6. Experience life from other perspectives than the one you were born into.
7. Let your achievements increase your confidence in taking on new challenges.
Oh, yes, and change "Good" to "Excellent."
There's no time like the present: start now!
Donald W. Mitchell is a professor at Rushmore University who often teaches people who want to improve their business effectiveness in order to accomplish career breakthroughs through earning advanced degrees. For more information about ways to engage in fruitful lifelong learning at Rushmore University to increase your effectiveness, I invite you to visit