‘Always try your best Deb!’
As I rolled backwards one more time I was ready to give up!
‘I can’t do a hill start Dad!’ I cried! ‘I give up!’
‘Aww Deb, course you can! Give it another go. Hold onto that clutch and let it out slowly’. He explained.
Again, I rolled backwards!
‘Come on Deb, try again, try your best!’ he encouraged.
He was not going to let me give up. He was not going to stop until I did a hill start.
But then, after many attempts I did it! I did a hill start. I was 17 years old and it was my driving test the week after and I was terrified but with dad’s lessons I had improved so much. I could now do a hill start. The feeling was incredible. I was so proud of my success.
His words ‘try your best’ are embedded, fixed and bound into my brain. Their roots entwined into my heart. My dad, my best friend and the most amazing person you could ever wish to know said those words often as I grew up. My memories of him are that he was always proud of me. Whatever I did he was proud and his pride shone through his kind and gentle eyes. His words and motto in life was ‘always try your best’. I feel I have lived my life by those words. Whenever I do something that is difficult I think of those words. Those words are there, those kindly spoken words with his gentle voice whispering into my ear. It makes me want to keep on trying until I eventually succeed. I passed those words onto my children. They heard them constantly as they grew from the terrible twos to the teenage Kevins, who were at odds with the world. When one of them came home from school upset because they didn’t win an award, or they failed a test then I would ask ‘Did you try your best?’ If the answer was yes then I would tell them how proud I was of them, even if they didn’t win the award or pass the test. If they said ‘No’ then we would discuss how they could expect to pass the test or win an award if they didn’t try.
My dad didn’t know it, but he instilled a growth mindset into me and consequently into my girls. He gave us the best advice with which to base our lives on. If we set our mind to something we do it! We try and try until we succeed. We follow our dreams, where nothing is impossible. We shoot for the moon, and as the saying goes, ‘if we miss, we land among the stars’. Any mistakes we make, we learn from them, we move on, we try again. Hard workers always get there in the end if they keep on trying. If they try their best.
I remember watching my eldest daughter, aged 7 trying to ride her bike without stabilisers. She tried and tried and tried. Never giving up the whole afternoon until she could do it. The look on her face was magical. The result of her effort was that deep satisfaction you get when you achieve something that is difficult to do. That feeling is amazing. Until you feel it, it is hard to imagine. The bigger the effort made makes the feeling even better. Any successes we have should be celebrated. We need to always remember that feeling of succeeding. It can inspire you and spur you on to work harder and harder and achieve even greater things. Doing something with little reward can be so difficult to do. We love instant gratification where we are rewarded immediately for something we do, but if we work harder and achieve greater things that gratification is a hundred-fold and makes the effort worthwhile.
I remember my youngest daughter attending a gym club each week from aged 2. She loved it and got quite good at it. At one point she was chosen to trial for the club and go in their ‘special team’ which entered all the competitions. She went along at aged 8 and was turned down. Her disappointment was heart-breaking but with gentle encouragement she was urged to continue, as those gentle words reminded me again, to spur her on. For most children that would be it they would have given up. But no not her, she continued with gym each week until she was 16. She realised she wasn’t an ‘Olympian gymnast’ but it didn’t mean that she couldn’t do it for enjoyment, exercise and wellbeing. She entered local competitions in the club and even won a trophy for gymnastics.
So, my lovely dad, the light of my life, the pinnacle of wisdom, I thank you for those words. Those words instilled into me at such a young age and throughout my life. When your life ended your words didn’t. They live on. Those words reminded to me so often. I will always try my best and will more importantly instil those words into my children and every child I work with or meet in my life. The words ‘Always try your best’ will never be forgotten.