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At this time of year, it’s tempting to just limp to the end.

To mail it in, with one eye on the calendar.

To count the days before the holidays start, without making the days count.

To look for opportunities to get distracted.

But today I want to encourage you to finish strong.

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We all have messages that we tell others.

If someone asks us how we are doing, we instinctively respond with some like, “Good, thanks.”

Or perhaps, “Awesome!”

Maybe even, “I’m having a great day, how about you?”

It doesn’t matter if they’re not completely true, they are habitual, ingrained responses that we give without careful consideration.

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Who remembers their mum saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

In a world full of hate-speech, trolling and anonymous keyboard warriors, it sometimes feels as though the world would be a very quiet place if we all listened to our mums.

But I suspect that we don’t have to be quiet.

I suspect that there’s always something nice to say.

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It doesn’t matter how many snakes you’ve managed to slide down, there’s always a ladder.

It doesn’t matter how dark and dank the pit you’re in seems to be, there’s always a ladder.

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve fallen down, there’s always a ladder.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been stuck at the bottom, the ladder is still there.

You may have to look for it.

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At the time of writing:

  • Christmas is one month and one day away.
  • There are only 37 days to go in the year.
  • My kids finish their school year in a couple of weeks.
  • Our oldest son starts high school next year and he becomes a teenager in March.

Time just flies.

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For the past few years, our kids have each competed in Little Athletics, a terrific program that gives them the opportunity to develop their athletic potential whilst aspiring to continually improve their performance.

And the measure of success isn’t about winning, it’s about improving.

The key question after a race or event isn’t, “Did you win?”

It’s, “Did you get a personal best?”

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It’s not the size of the dog in the fight that determines who wins.

Similarly, it’s not how clever you are that will determine your level of success.

Or how well-connected.

Or how naturally talented.

And it has nothing to do with what you look like.

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With the sad, untimely passing of tennis great Jana Novotna at the young age of 49, I stumbled across a beautiful quote from the Duchess of Kent after Jana lost the Wimbledon Final to Steffi Graf in 1993.

Jana was almost inconsolable, when the Duchess leaned over and whispered, “I know you will win it one day, don’t worry.”

Five years later, those words proved prophetic when she eventually won the Wimbledon final in 1998.

We all come across people who have lost hope.

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You’re not responsible for what others say or do, but you are responsible for how you respond.

You’re not responsible for your upbringing, but you are responsible for whether or not you stay in the past.

You’re not responsible for the standard of the work of the people around you, but you are responsible for maintaining your own standard of excellence.

You’re not responsible for how engaging or inspiring your boss is, but you are responsible for keeping yourself motivated and focused.

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This is the 2000th post on this blog.

It’s not a milestone that I was anticipating or would have expected to reach when I first started this blog in March 2010, but it’s certainly one that I am proud of.

I started to make better use of my evenings as I felt that I was wasting my time watching too much TV or playing games.  I also wanted to provide a positive alternative in the often hostile and negative internet world.

So every weeknight, rain, hail or shine, I hit publish and another post goes out.

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