Above and Beyond: Is it in your genes?

I’ve been researching this so called Above and Beyond trait, if we can call it that, and I’m leaning towards putting it in the same category as other more identifiable traits such as eye-hand coordination and common sense. Let me explain.

For those of us who have been blessed with exceptional eye-hand coordination, hitting a tennis ball, ping pong ball, or simply catching an object thrown at you without fully turning your head or following the object into your hands, it just comes naturally.

I’m one of those that gets shooed away at a carnival’s basketball booth because I’m making too many shots, clearing the shelves of stuffed animals, and handing them to kids as they walk by. True story, by the way. It happened at a jambalaya festival in Gonzales, Louisiana, many moons ago.

And so I think for those who always seem to go above and beyond, whether the task is big or small, it just comes naturally. For many who go above and beyond, it is actually a little awkward that it is pointed out because they didn’t take on a task and say to themselves, “Wow! For this task I’m going to do more than I’ve ever done before!” It just doesn’t happen that way.

Unless it’s an employee who’s trying to save his job, sarcastically speaking…

Anyway, see what I mean? It’s like saying, “Today I’m going to have more common sense than I did yesterday.” I think you either have it in you, or you don’t.

So then, how do you know when someone is one of those “above and beyond” persons?

One way of course is to ask. And it’s okay for a person to list some examples of when he or she went above and beyond, but if the person tries to explain how or why, just stop them. It can’t be explained. It’s just in you.

However, as with other human skills, you can always work on improving yourself, but just the fact that you have to work towards making yourself better in one area means you aren’t quite there. Right? It’s like asking a historically lazy person not to be lazy anymore. Yeah, right…

So like eye-hand coordination and common sense, I think you either have Above and Beyondness, or you don’t.

No? I’d like to hear from other folks about this. And if this is the first time you’ve thought about this subject, let me know. It’ll help my research. Not that I want to go above and beyond


The Miracle of Being a Father

We know the old saying about how if things come easy they’re not worth having or how good things are worth waiting for. This is my story about having children late in life when I didn’t think it might happen.

During my first marriage back in the early ’80s, my wife and I tried often to have children. Being unsuccessful after about five years of trying, I decided to take the first step and seek the help of a specialist.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was probably the biggest mistake I would make in my life. You see, after testing was complete and the doctor had the results, the doctor came to the conclusion that I would never be able to father any children.

As devastated as I was to hear this, I remember walking through a long hallway, walking towards the exit of the building and thinking to myself, “Well, if God wants me to have children, I’m going to have children someday.”

I actually didn’t dwell on this too much after that day, and I can’t really explain why. For someone who loves and enjoys children so much I really wanted to have children. But I really didn’t let it bother me.

But for now I had to go home and report the news to my wife, already knowing what her reaction would be. Needless to say, this, and other reasons, would mean an end to our marriage. My wife had previously told me she didn’t want to adopt, and didn’t want to go through an alternative way of conceiving. And I didn’t want to push this anymore.

We were both still in our mid 20’s. We separated without telling anyone. We had been everyone’s perfect couple, childhood sweethearts, together since the age of sixteen. I know it broke our family’s heart knowing that we were no longer going to be together, especially her mother and younger brothers and sisters too. To this day I still see them the same as always and their kids still call me uncle and I still call them my nieces and nephews. It was an awful feeling not to be part of their daily lives anymore.

Having moved out of town to move closer to my mother and siblings in a different state, I lost touch with my ex-wife until about seven years later when I returned to our hometown to attend a friend’s funeral.

At the funeral service I saw my ex-wife’s best friend from high school, and learned from her that my ex had remarried and had two daughters.

When she told me this, the first thing that popped into my mind was that the infertility specialist had been correct in his assessment and that it was my fault my wife hadn’t been able to get pregnant.

So now about fifteen years after first getting married, and wanting to have children, I was married again, actually married a women with two beautiful children.

I remember when we were first getting to know each other one of the questions I had been wanting to ask her was if she already had children. At this point in my life I didn’t want to marry a woman who hadn’t already experienced childbirth for fear of going through what I went through with my first wife. I didn’t want to put myself in that position again, and didn’t want to put another woman through the agony of not being able to conceive. At least that’s how I felt.

So thinking back to what I said to myself walking out of the doctor’s office that dreadful day many years ago, I thanked God for finally allowing me to have children. And I promised God I would always strive to be the best step-father I could, and to treat both children as if He himself had delivered them to me.

And now as I sit in a hospital room watching over my youngest son, who’s now 16 years old, and who came down with pneumonia yesterday, I again thank God for giving me another miracle and proving the specialist wrong.

Oh yeah, and my wife was again pregnant about a year later, this time with a beautiful baby girl.

When the youngest son was about 10 or 11 years old I remember him asking me why I had named him after me. At that time I felt he was too young to understand, but I may be getting closer to telling him the whole story now.

One thing I want to tell him, right or wrong, is that I had already made up my mind that if God allowed me to have a son I was going to name him after me. I’ll tell him that after all I went through, with the emotional trauma of losing my first wife, and living all of those years not knowing whether I’d ever have children, I wanted the privilege of passing my name down to him. I hope he would understand.

Earn Your Mistakes

Here’s a short five-step guide on accomplishing the task at hand. Whether it’s big or small, don’t start something unless you’re ready to finish it. And hopefully you’ll fail along the way: how else do you expect to learn from your mistakes?

  1. START, AND STAY THE COURSE. Once you start a project, whatever it is you’ve chosen to do, don’t lose sight of the goal. Just swat the minor failures away like gnats, and keep moving forward. And pay attention to critical junction points, as they will determine whether you’re headed in the right direction or not.
  2. TOP YOUR EFFORT: In other words, always put in one hundred percent, all of the time. This way if you fail, you can at least be proud that you gave it your all. Make this a habit, by the way, and it’ll get easier every time. (To put in 100%, not the fail part.)
  3. EARN YOUR MISTAKES: Take every setback as an opportunity to learn something. It’s your mistake, you earned the right to learn something from it.
  4. VENT IT OUT: Find a mentor you can discuss problems and solutions with. When you find the right person, you’ll see that they’ve already failed so many times that it’s logical they will provide you the best advice.
  5. ENJOY: If you enjoy what you do, all the hard work you put into something makes it that much more gratifying. Enjoy your success!

Now go start and finish something! What are you waiting for?