The American dream is not about money. It is about using your abilities and being the best you can be. – J.C. Watts
J.C. Watts was a member of Congress for eight years and today’s quote comes from a speech he gave at the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego. I was a newspaper reporter in a small town a couple of hours east of San Diego at the time and happened to be at the convention that night. Watts retired from Congress in 2003 and some might recall his college football career as a quarterback at the University of Oklahoma where he led the Sooners to a couple of Orange Bowl victories.
Today’s quote is one of the few in my collection that was actually heard in person and has always struck as the basic proposition of what this country is about: you’re born and you die and in between you have 24 hours every day to make something good happen for yourself.
Some take advantage of this opportunity and work hard to develop the talents and interests they were born with. These people live from the inside out, spending their time following their instincts.
Others don’t. They squander their time by ignoring their talents and frittering away their time on this planet. They spend most of their time ignoring their instincts, preferring to react to outside influences.
It is about using your abilities and being the best you can be…
All of us can do something well. It’s one of the earliest lessons we can remember learning, having it reinforced regularly both at the Lutheran school we went to and where we played sports.
It is also one of the most valuable, teaching us not to waste our time on things we don’t do well and focus on what we are good at. Nature, in her infinite wisdom, sees fit to ensure that we enjoy what we do well. It is her way of telling us this is what we should be doing with our lives.
The happiest lives are spent by those who get the most out of talents they were issued at birth, who work hard to get the most out of their talents and who follow their hearts and trust their instincts. Our hearts tell us where we want to go, naturally and intuitively. If we listen closely, it requires little effort to hear what it is telling us.
Our instincts will show us how to get there. It’s nature’s foolproof plan for a good life.
Not only is it important that we get the most out of our talents, but it is equally important we encourage those younger than us to do the same thing. Nobody benefits when someone squanders their life.