From the earliest times I can remember, growing up with those who had learned the work ethic early, such as the farming community, it seemed as though “achievement” was a key word in their vocabulary.

Grandparents, uncles, aunts, and older cousins, most of whom were second and third generation farmers, taught me that things accomplished were usually done by one’s superior ability and special effort. And sometimes to do so takes great courage. Over the years I have learned related words that are associated with accomplishing what may have seemed the impossible, such as: victory, performance, triumph, and conquest.

Working towards my greatest achievement has most definitely been a journey full of trials, mistakes, and self-discovery. It has been the performance of something most people would consider very difficult, generally demanding a lot of skill and strength.

My career, which has involved being an English teacher, a journalist, and newspaper columnist, according to several readers, family members, and even myself, has had several distinguished achievements, but this one is hopefully going to be the best. However, to me, as an ex-teacher, this achievement seems at times almost academically impossible.

To achieve this success is like a full body workout, and has taken many years so far. It has really challenged my limits. I even seem to hear a voice in my head at times saying, “Listen, you are the only one who can limit your greatness. You can do this.”

Even though my Fitbit watch has told me that my “greatest achievement has been walking 15,782 steps in a single day, I feel I have walked more than several million steps trying to accomplish this goal. And the critical point of achievement for me seems so unimaginable at times. To me it will almost be like a moon landing. It’s going to take one gigantic step for me.

I also need to commend one significant person in my life whom I need to give credit for helping me to even consider working toward this important goal. He was an encourager when it came to achieving this. His name is Roger Butler. Thankfully, prior to him leaving us and going home to be with the Lord last October, he was able to realize how important it was that I work on achieving this goal.

There are even times when I am able to hear and see him sitting in a chair in my living room mentioning things that make me realize how important it is to work on achieving this goal. What is this greatest achievement I’m working on? Knowing when to “Pause,” as Roger said, “and just listen.” In other words, keep my mouth shut! Which for me is hard to do at times.

A lot of you can probably write a chapter or two on this very subject. At least I am aware of several politicians who could. But if you do decide to write a chapter, still consider yourself with kindness, because solving this problem should most definitely be considered one of our greatest and hardest achievements.

Remember, strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t do. There is help available to reach, which I consider, this great achievement. And I’ve been working at listening to the Manager of my life’s voice even more, as I work towards achieving this very important goal.

— Contact: amsstark@msn.com

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