Ambition

Ambition

 

Meet eight time world champion archer Alicia, the ambitious athlete from Argentina, who will teach your children the importance of setting goals and working to achieve their dreams. This is the first of 26 stories that teach those you love about values that will make up the points on their moral compass. Each story introduces an unforgettable character and an easy-to-remember “values statement.” Follow-up games, fun exercises, guided discussions, drawings, and age-appropriate research along with additional real-life stories ensure that your children will always remember who taught about values. Remember, its the legacy you leave in them that they will pass on to future generations.

Show me how this wonderful site can work for my child, and let me read a free preview of Alicia’s story and review some real-world stories.

 

 

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  1. Nov 30, 2011

    Here is a preview of “Alicia’s” chapter (not formatted):

    Alicia

    The minute I walked through the door she said, “Have you met any of the others yet?” My slumped shoulders and downcast look must have told her she was the first.

    “No, ma’am,” I replied as I obediently walked to the chair she’d pointed to. I was pretty sure that whatever she said next was going to be bad. But, as usual, I had it all wrong.

    “Well then, it’s my job to tell you that our purpose here is to teach you about values.” At that particular moment I didn’t know what she meant by “our purpose” or who “our” was, and I didn’t even know what values were—at least I hadn’t yet learned that such things had names. Boy, I had so much to learn!

    “Each of us here has a specific value we focus on. Mine is ambition. So, why don’t we begin with you telling me why you came to see me today?” She smiled as she spoke, but I was still nervous and, besides that, I knew I was in trouble. She paused and waited politely for me to speak. I just looked down at the floor, too afraid to say a word. Finally, she learned gently forward and said, “Don’t worry, just go ahead and tell me. I’m sure it can’t be all that bad!”

    I knew I wasn’t getting out of there, so I finally blurted out, “I got in trouble for not doing my homework. My mom sent me here and said that you could straighten me out.”

    She laughed and laughed and slapped her knee in glee. “Ha! That will be the day!” I couldn’t help but look up. When she caught me looking, she smiled gently at me again—as I was about to learn, smiling came easy to Alicia. The twinkle in her eye made me feel like maybe she wasn’t so bad after all. When I think about it, I guess that exact moment was the beginning of our becoming friends.

    “The only thing I could ever straighten out was the invisible line between my bow and the circle in the center of the targets I aimed my arrows at while riding on my horse. In fact, that was something I was pretty good at.” As she spoke, she turned her head over her left shoulder, focused on a point on the wall, extended her left arm to full length and pretended to pull back the string on an imaginary bow. I wasn’t sure what she saw, but I was pretty sure that she saw it! Her unblinking eyes were locked in place—her look more intense than any I had ever seen.

    As far as lectures go, which was what I was expecting, I was beginning to think that she didn’t have a clue about how to talk to kids. And, who ever heard of someone shooting arrows at targets while riding on their horse? Maybe she was just crazy, I thought. Again, I was wrong.

    Suddenly, she dropped her hands, looked right through me with those powerful eyes and said, “Why don’t you go and open up that foot locker against the wall?”

    When I lifted the latch and raised the lid of the foot locker, I was shocked at what I saw—as it turned out, that day with Alicia would be just the first of many surprising days that were in store for me over the next several years. Attached to the inside of the foot locker’s lid were a child’s bow and a quiver filled with arrows. Of course, they looked pretty old, which wasn’t unusual since I figured Alicia was well past seventy years old. I suspected the bow and arrows must have been hers from a long time ago. The foot locker itself was crammed full of framed pictures, ribbons (all first place blue or gold ribbons), plaques and lots of gold trophies. Obviously, I’d never seen anything like it—it looked like a pirate’s treasure to me!

    If Alicia hadn’t told me to look in the footlocker, I probably never would have known about her trophies. Her room didn’t have any pictures, plaques, ribbons or trophies on display, and I never once heard her tell anyone else about her accomplishments. That was just the way she was.

    “Where’d all this stuff come from?” I asked.

    “From my childhood,” she said. “There are more. In fact, there are enough to fill two rooms this size, but I couldn’t bring everything with me. Besides, the joy for me was never in all the awards but rather in the contests themselves. I started competing when I was just about your age, and that’s when I decided I wanted to be the best archer ever. As you can see, many times I was.”

    “You mean all these are really yours?”

    “Take a look at the pictures,” she said. “They will show you what can happen when you put your mind to something.”

    It took me a while to be sure of what I was looking at, but in every one of the pictures, the girl receiving the awards was a much younger Alicia. Some of the people she was with looked to be pretty important. Many were wearing medals on their uniforms or, in more than one case, crowns on their heads. The writing on the plaques and trophies was in several different languages, but I could make out the name Alicia on each one.

    Sensing that I was bothered by looking at her both as a young girl and now as a much older lady, she said, “Someday, if you’re lucky, you’ll be older, too. And, if you are as fortunate as me, you’ll have a lot of good memories to keep you company. Have you given any thought to what kind of memories you want to have when you get older?”

    I wasn’t sure I understood, but, as was her way, Alicia easily came to my rescue. “It’s up to you to choose what you do with your life. You can just take it easy and think things, even the smallest things, aren’t important, or you can make the decision to be a winner, perhaps even a champion. In my case, I set a goal to be a winner, and I’m so glad I did.”

    “But, what does all of that have to do with my homework?” I asked.

    “It’s not just your homework; it’s about how you approach things in your life. Homework is something that prepares you to be better, and you’ll learn that getting better at anything always takes some work. If you don’t take the time and put in the ‘work,’ you’ll never get to first place. Your homework may seem to be a chore, but it’s just like practice time. If you don’t practice and someone else does, you’ll never become the best, and let me tell you that it’s a lot harder to remember who came in second place. So, if you want to be the best, you have to put in the ‘home work.’

    “Would you rather be the best kid in the class or the worst?”

    Alicia didn’t wait for an answer.

    “It’s a decision you must make for yourself. When I was very young and brought home my first big award, all the other kids suddenly decided they wanted to be just like me, but, by then it was too late for them to catch up. Every day while they were playing, I had been practicing—doing my ‘home work.’ I’d set in my mind that I wanted to be the best archer ever, and, if you consider being named world champion being the best, I guess I achieved my goal. No one could hit a bull’s-eye while riding on a horse as well as I could.”

    I might have been just a kid, but even I knew that there is only one “world” champion. “You were world champion?” I asked.

    “Well, that’s what they said when I got the big trophy the first time, and then a lot of pretty important people wound up telling me the same thing for seven more years. So, I’m pretty sure they were telling the truth.”

    I remember feeling that suddenly I was somebody special! I actually knew a world champion, and she lived right there with me! That’s the day I decided to try to never disappoint Alicia. Mostly, I succeeded. But, as I said, I made plenty of mistakes, too.

    Today, I look back and smile at the clever way my mom and Alicia got me to do my homework. Although I visited with Alicia hundreds of times, never once did she have to mention homework again.

    Over the years, Alicia looked forward to spending time with me as much as I looked forward to spending time with her. I just loved how she sounded when she talked. She said that was the way people spoke in her home country of Argentina. Most of the time she spoke English to me, but even then I sometimes found it difficult to understand what she was saying. Other times, she spoke to me in her native language. It all seemed like a game, and so much fun, but that is how I learned to speak her language. She never even told me that part of her “new goal” was to teach me to learn another language. It just seemed to happen!

    Sometimes when we had something to say and others were around, we’d speak to each other in her “language,” and most of the others (not Carlos, Maria and Pedro, of course) were left to wonder what we were talking about. Over the years I learned to speak with some of the others in their strange languages, too.

    Whenever I learned some cool new phrase at school, I couldn’t wait to try it out on Alicia. When the phrase didn’t translate exactly into Spanish, she’d scrunch her nose and say, “English sure is a strange language.”

    Every once in a while she would get all dressed up in clothes that didn’t look like anyone else’s. They were bright and colorful and the others would talk about her for days afterwards. Once, she made me some “gaucho” clothes that I wore until you could see through the threads when you held them up to the light. Alicia never did anything halfway, so my gaucho outfit included a hat, baggy pants called bombachas (which I tucked into my boots), a sash or “tirador,” and a poncho. She said, “The poncho can also be used in place of a saddle blanket when you ride a real gaucho horse. Or, it can even be used as a sleeping bag at night.”

    I remember going to bed dreaming about riding my own gaucho horse. My gaucho outfit even included boleadorasthree leather-wrapped rocks tied together with leather straps. Alicia told me that gauchos use their boleadoras to catch wild animals. She and I would practice throwing for hours and hours, but I never got to be as accurate as Alicia.

    Once, Alicia told me, “Cowboys in Argentina wear gaucho clothes just like yours,” so naturally I pretended that I was a gaucho cowboy. I told myself (and her), “Someday I will travel to the fantastic place where people dress like this, and I’ll ride a real gaucho horse.”

    She smiled and said, “I’m sure that will happen.”

    It did.

    As I’ve already mentioned, Alicia never again opened, or at least had me open, her footlocker. I’m sure that you are wondering why—I know I wondered. So I asked her. I still remember what she said:

    “What I’ve already done does not define who I am; it is simply a record of what I’ve done. It’s what I do today that shows you who I am, and it’s what you do today that shows me who you are. So, be better today than you were yesterday and go to bed each night dreaming of yet a better tomorrow. Keep your mind open and let your goals into your dreams.”

    She would repeat this lesson to me many times over the years.

    Alicia was a born storyteller. Each time I saw her she would tell me yet another story of someone who had achieved their dreams because they were ambitious, set goals and worked hard. She must have had hundreds of stories! She would only repeat a favorite one when I asked her to. I asked her why she always spoke about ambition, and she reminded me that was her purpose now. As I got to know the others, I understood why.

    Since I didn’t always make my goals (I learned that setting them is a lot easier than making them), I asked her what happened to all of those other people who were ambitious but didn’t get to be a world champion. She smiled her easy smile and said, “I consider everybody who pursues their dreams to be a ‘champion’ because they always make more of themselves and enjoy a better life when they try. The lessons they learn help make each day more rewarding than the day before.”

    Alicia made sure that I understood there were far more times when she didn’t win than when she did. “It is not important that you always win. In fact, it’s the trying and not winning that prepares you to appreciate it more when you do win. When you try, winning will come.”

    Whenever I felt a little lost, I knew I could count on Alicia to get me right back on track.

    __________

    Ambition

    Be ambitious; set goals; dream of a better tomorrow.

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