“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.”
My senior year of college – perhaps while procrastinating instead of working on my honors thesis – I came across this unattributed quote. It impressed me enough that I typed it up, printed it out, and put it on my wall. For the next nine years it adorned multiple dwellings and was a constant reminder to me of what being a transformative teacher requires. When I moved back down to Southern California, the now slightly yellowed and crinkled paper went into a box, and there it remained until almost precisely two years ago.
Just as I was about to embark on my first year as a principal, I rediscovered that piece of paper while moving into my new office. I searched for the quote’s author, wondering who it might be. Ben Franklin? Henry David Thoreau? Aristotle? No – Ronnie Oldham.
Who is Ronnie Oldham? He owns his own company in Texas converting gasoline-powered vehicles to operate on compressed natural gas. After a little bit of sleuthing I found his email address and I wrote to him, asking him if there was a story behind the quote. He wrote back to tell me it comes from a personal mission statement and core values project he completed while a student at Oklahoma Baptist University.
A core values project? A personal mission statement? This should sound familiar. He was reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People!
Ronnie Oldham is no Franklin or Thoreau, but his definition of excellence does, I think, elegantly articulate exactly what we all must do to make this the best. year. ever.
We move forward in this endeavor together. May the 4ce be with you.