Have you made any New Year's resolutions? If so (and if you're keeping them), congratulations! Setting a goal for some sort of positive change is a brave thing to do – but often a difficult thing to achieve. Personally, I didn't arrive at any specific goal by January 1; but I am mulling over a change or two that I do want to make, and steeling myself for the persistence reaching that goal will almost certainly require.
Any one of us who is looking for a role model in the exercise of persistence would do well to visit the RHS Facebook page and read a feature on "Grandma Luge" (AKA Anne Abernathy). Anne, a bona fide Red Hatter, has attended several of our conventions, serving as a hugely-entertaining and inspiring speaker. I hereby nominate her as the poster child for pure "stick-to-itiveness." If she doesn't inspire you, no one will.
She has been referred to as one of the most remarkable athletes in the world, and for good reason. Competing in the luge, Anne set a record for being the sole female athlete to compete in SIX winter Olympic Games, as well as being the oldest female to do so (that's why she's earned the title of "Grandma Luge"). Not familiar with the luge? Well, it's that sport where one lies down on a sled - on one's back - feet first - and proceeds to hurtle down a steep, slippery, convoluted track of solid ice - at speeds up to heaven-only-knows how many miles per hour. Yes, that one. (In her most recent Olympics this Red Hatter competed wearing a red helmet!)
So that's a rather impressive record of persistence. Consider too the fact that during this time she has fought off a couple of bouts of cancer and has broken 30 bones (oh - and suffered one severe head injury). In Anne's vocabulary, the word "persistence" is spelled in all caps!
Anne is now in her sixties, and might well be expected to rest on her laurels and take it easy. But that's not for her. But she's not getting back on that sled; she's taken up archery instead. And she's doing what she always does - putting 110% effort into it. After practicing only seven months, she made it into the World Cup Archery competition, and did very well. If she makes it to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro she will better her own record by being the first female athlete to compete in seven combined winter and summer Olympics! When asked if she considers this an impossible goal, she replies, "Absolutely not!"
Not only is Anne modeling persistence of the highest order, she's putting herself out in front of the whole world and declaring her goal. She's inviting all of us to hold her accountable and encourage her in the pursuit of her dream. That takes a different kind of courage. I'll bet that all of us Red Hatters will be cheering her on. And when one of us sets a goal (makes a resolution) we, like Anne, will be more apt to reach that goal if we tell others and ask them to watch us as we pursue our aim.
So, if you're in the process of making some kind of change, or even still contemplating one, I suggest you think of Anne, slap on your imaginary red helmet and just "keep on truckin'!"