It Always Counts

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I wasn’t a gifted star athlete, good looking or popular, yet I had an

amazing dream come true.

Whenever I speak to children, I begin with a series of

four slides from my high school years. The first slide

is my yearbook graduation photo. My ambition reads, “To attend

the Air Force Academy.” I then tell the children I couldn’t

get into the Air Force Academy. My grades weren’t good

enough. I was not a gifted child. I wasn’t a genius. But I had

the incredible dream of becoming an astronaut come true.

Next, I show a slide from my high school prom. I tell the

kids, “I’m not in this photo.” I didn’t go to either of my high

school proms because I couldn’t get a date. I wasn’t Mr. Good

Looking. But I had the incredible dream of becoming an astronaut

come true.

The third slide is of the school varsity club. It shows the

star athletes in my high school. I tell the kids, “I’m not in this

picture.” I wasn’t a star athlete, yet I had the incredible dream

of becoming an astronaut come true.

Finally, I show a fourth slide. This one is of the autograph

pages from my high school yearbook. They contain but a

single autograph. It reads, “You missed Korea, but here’s hoping

you make Vietnam.” Clearly, I wasn’t popular. But I had the

incredible dream of becoming an astronaut come true.

I think this sequence of photos is extremely important. It

shows how ordinary I was. I wasn’t gifted, a star athlete, good

looking or popular, yet I had an amazing dream come true.

Source: Printed with permission from Richard “Mike” Mullane,

Member, Stories From Space, LLC.

Now, I can see why it happened. I did four things that

put me on a path to success. First, I always did my best at

whatever I was doing. I didn’t worry whether it was going to

“count” later in life. Every child should understand this: It

always counts. Everything you have ever done, everything

you will ever do, is going to count in your life, just as it did

in mine. Do your best at everything: school, sports, band,

scouts, choir, everything!

Second, I always set extremely high goals for myself.

Here, I was thinking well outside the box. Early in my life, I

set a goal to be a military flyer and ultimately an astronaut.

Too many kids set their goals based upon what their parents

have done with their lives or what their friends intend to do

with theirs or what their brothers and sisters are doing. Forget

that! You have your own life. Don’t set goals based on

others. Set your own goals and set them very high. None of

us can be anything we dream to be. We all have boundaries.

They might be boundaries of talent A case in point is Michael

Jordan. His talent as a basketball player didn’t extend to

baseball. We might have physical limits: bad eyesight, asthma,

diabetes, and so on. My dad was in a wheelchair because of

polio. But, within our boundaries, we should be setting the

highest possible goals for ourselves. If you shoot for the stars

and fall a little short and land on the moon, you haven’t failed.

You’ve done yourself a terrific favor. Dream Big!

Third, I never got involved in things that threatened my

body, for example, drugs, alcohol abuse, tobacco, or violence.

You get one body in life. Whatever dream you are pursuing

you’re going to need it. Take care of your body!

Finally, I made education my number one priority. I poured

heart and soul into my studies. I wasn’t gifted, but I got As

and Bs through sheer hard work. Kids, know this as a fact.

There are laws to protect you from discrimination on the

basis of color, religion, gender, etc., but there are no laws to

protect you from discrimination on the basis of education.

That is a discrimination, which is viscously practiced in this

country, and you can’t sue anybody if it happens to you. It’s

legal. You have to protect yourself by getting the best and the

most education you possibly can. Make school number one in

your life!

It’s been my experience the way to get to the stars is to:

Dream Big!

Do your best!

Take care of your body!

Make education number one in your life!

Good luck.