I walked over from my six-dollar campsite to the Subway a quarter-mile down the road in Salina, Utah, to charge my Blackberry and grab a quick bite to eat (the new Orchard Chicken Salad is my favorite, with ALL the fixings). I ask where the most accessible power outlet was and the young lady working the sandwich line pointed over to a dark corner of the restaurant, next to a door marked ‘private’ that was making very mysterious noises. As I neared the corner, the scene began to slowly reveal itself. I see a small table with a book and paper scattered across it, four chairs, one seemingly occupied. There was, in fact, a large, intimidating figure in the fourth chair. I first noticed her large hands, strangling her textbook. Then I saw her inch long pigtails, confirming my assumption that she was a woman. She was buried deep within her studies, paying no attention to me. I plugged my phone into the wall, filled up my water bottle and sat down ten yards away from her, just out of arms reach, but still close enough to keep a good watch over my phone, my only connection to the world.
I flinched a little bit, as she raised her nose out of her book to size me up through her thick, black framed glasses. She looked me up and down starting with my sock tan line, and ending with my helmet hair. “Who are you?” she said with friendly smile, with an upper lip that kept her teeth exposed at all times. “I’m Teddy, how are you?”, “I’m doing good!”. Immediately, I can sense her positive energy, which is unbelievably refreshing. “What are you studying?”, I say with much intrigue. “Anatomy”, “What chapter are you on?”, she replies sarcastically, yet with an endearing tone, “Chapter 6!”. I laughed, understanding that I had that one coming. “I meant what topic of Anatomy are you studying?”, “I don’t know, bones and things”. I asked her where she went to school, she answered with Snow College and she then asked, “What are you doing in my town?”. I laughed again, she certainly did have a sense of humor. “Your town? I’m just bicycling through. I am going 11,000 miles around our nation for childhood obesity”. She replied with wide open eyes, shocked by my response. “Oh you’re a bike rider?? Your legs look too small for you to be a bike rider!”. Once again, I laughed. She followed up with, “My legs are stronger than yours. Don’t you know who I am?”, “No, sorry, I’m not from around here”. If you gave me a million guesses, I wouldn’t have guessed what she said next. So to my surprise, she quickly responded, “I’m The Strongest Woman in Utah!” I was impressed, especially after googling her name to verify.
After finding out that we both shared a passion for philosophy books, we began to gear towards a very deep and insightful conversation. She told me about a head injury she had when she was 19 years old, leaving her without any memory of her childhood, and how it left her to rediscover every wonder in life. She observed a certain time in her life, after her divorce, where she had to find herself again. She did so through religion, reading The Bible cover to cover, ‘searching for the truth’, in her words. I curiously asked, “What is the truth in life?”, “Well”, she said while pondering at the same time, “Life is like..” she paused, I quickly interjected to get in my share of quips, “like a box of chocolates!?” I sat there with an open mouth and my hands flared out, waiting for a hearty, country laugh. It didn’t come. Yes, it was a cheesy joke, but I thought it was still funny. She finally got the joke and let out a hearty, country laugh. After slapping her knee for hours (okay, I’m exaggerating that part), she said, “You know what, the truth in life is experiencing life”, then in a Forrest Gump accent, “that’s all I got to say about that”, returning the joke. She continued, “Look at Forrest Gump, he was a do-er, doing everything he wanted to do. He didn’t sit around and talk about what he was going to do, he did it”. It’s true, he was a do-er. Then out of nowhere, she says with confidence, “I’ll challenge you in an arm wrestling match!”.
I met The Strongest Woman in Utah the same day I posted the question of the day on my Facebook profile, about the three brothers. And it couldn’t have happened at a more fitting time. For those who were not able to read the question of the day, here it is one more time. “Three brothers live next to each other, on Main Street, in different houses. One brother decides to move to First Street. How many brothers now live on Main Street?” I got a wide variety of responses, some of which I had never thought of. Some answered the question as though it was straight forward, some as if it was a trick. It was a little bit of both. So here is the answer. The answer is all three brothers still live on Main Street. Just because one brother decided to move, doesn’t mean he executed that decision.
I haven’t accomplished much in my lifetime just yet, but I have stumbled across the secret for success. There are three simple steps to success. 1. Decide to be successful – the conscious decision to reach certain goals, as defined by that individual. 2. Make a plan to become successful – a tangible plan involving research and data outlining, step by step, how to accomplish said goals. 3. EXECUTE that plan.
Many people say they want to do a lot of things. Few people devise a plan to do those things. Even fewer people execute that plan. The third and final stage is the most important, yet most overlooked, step in the formula for success. I’ll say it again, just because you decide to do something, that doesn’t mean you’ve done it.
I decided to test the strength of The Strongest Woman in Utah, accepting her challenge. I executed that decision. She then executed some sort of Eastern European move on my right arm, defeating me with out challenge. I fought the urge to cry, gathered up my courage and responded with, “I’m a cyclist”, her reply, “Your legs are still too small for you to be a bike rider!”