I’m looking at another quote image in this article, but I’ve missed a bit out…
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
As I researched the quote, I found that it actually starts ‘To achieve greatness, start where you are..’ and so on, but once I’ve researched a quote so I can give it proper reference and credit, I like to make the point as I see it from the words as they are, so I chose to miss the first bit out, and I’ll cover why later on.
The quote’s from the late Arthur Ashe. Tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Black tennis legend Arthur Ashe.
Whoa, hang on, why would I mention that he was black, is that relevant?
Well, yes, it is.
He grew up in a time of racism. Not just casual racism, but institutionalised racism, segregation et al. So, not only did his tennis career coincide with the battles it faced as it moved from amateur to professional, he had to deal with being excluded from competitions and even courts, simply because he was black.
Despite this, he became the first player to win the US Open in the open era, and in 1975 he became the first (and so far only) black player to win Wimbledon. In that final he beat Jimmy Connors, who at the time was suing Ashe for comments made in his position as President of the new ATP.
That’s something notable about Ashe. As well as the obvious work that needs to go in to winning Gram Slams in tennis, he was an activist. He expected things to be the best they could, and if he felt that he could do something about it, he did!
He didn’t just moan. He didn’t ignore. He stepped forward and engaged. That’s why he was elected President of the ATP in its’ fledgling years. That’s why after 2 heart bypass operations he became a chairman of the American Heart Association.
He developed AIDS related illnesses after the blood transfusion during the 2nd operation, and he founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation, working to raise awareness, including a speech to the UN General Assembly.
Ashe died in Feb 1993, and later that year was awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton.
So, I think it’s fair to say he achieved great things. He was prepared to put in the work to achieve things for himself, and he was prepared to stand up and be counted to achieve things for others.
If we look at his quote again though, I still think the quote works even better if you take away the beginning about achieving greatness.
A lot of people don’t ever start towards their goals precisely *because* they think that greatness will be too much for them. They think they are not capable, or that it’s only for other people. The fear of failure stops them from starting.
That’s why I think it helps to take the words about achieving greatness off the quote.
To achieve anything, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.
In the key areas of your life – health, wealth, career, relationships, lifestyle – do an honest assessment of where you are and where you’d like to be. Then ask what you already have and whether you’re using it properly, or at all. Then look at what you can do. Are you acting to the fullest of your *current* abilities?
Have you been waiting for things to fall into place before starting? It could be that this has just led to a whole load of waiting, and you could have used that time to start.
If you think you don’t have enough, the bear in mind that anyone at the top of any field didn’t have enough when they started, but they started using what they had at the time. You can only build on what you have once you use what you already have.
The same applies to the limits of what you can do. To progress means to push the limits of what you can do, but you won’t know what those *actual* limits are until you do what you can.
You might be amazed at just how much progress you can make if you take on this exercise, it can be a revelation! Remember that the conscious brain will generally underestimate the power and abilities of the subconscious brain, so to change our conscious beliefs about what we can achieve, it needs the conscious mind to decide to just try!
Then when it comes to helping others, ask the same questions. You might think that what you offer is not enough to make any difference. Well, instead of thinking, find out! Take action, and you might find that the efforts you can put in for others is exactly what they need.
Once you’ve taken action, the game changes. It always does, because it either brings progress or it brings the knowledge that you may need to learn more, or develop relationships more. This is forward movement. It might not feel like it if you hit a setback, but it’s forwards nonetheless.
You might not achieve greatness, but you’ll achieve something. If you don’t start, if you don’t use, if you don’t do, then you won’t achieve anything. This is a choice. It’s your choice, and as I’ve said many time, taking personal responsibility for our choices is one of the most powerful things we can do.
So, the quote works with or without mentioning greatness, which is why I like it so much, and I’d suggest you could do a lot worse than fully soaking up the words of the late, and yes, great, Arthur Ashe – start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.
Ok, do let me know what you think as ever!
‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. If you have a passion for sport, why not take a look at my cheat sheet covering the basics of turning that passion into profits online?