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How to Be the Hero of Your Own Life

By Anne Alexander

How do you know if you are living your life well? Do you measure it by your accomplishments? This is a short story about an amazing young person who helps us define how well we are living our gift of life.

When I attended my step-daughter's college graduation this past May, I thought the commencement speaker was a very accomplished person. Whether one is positive, negative or neutral about Hillary Clinton, she has accomplished a great deal, persevered through many storms, set high goals and reached many of them.

What I didn't realize until recently was that another individual with an amazing success story was also there at that graduation. She was, in fact, one of the graduates, and with hundreds of students streaming across the stage, I honestly have to say I don't remember her as she received her diploma.

But I learned recently about this hero of the Agnes Scott College's Class of 2005. Jessica Berry started college with my step-daughter - they were in the same English class. During her first semester Jessica was diagnosed with Hodgkins-Lymphoma cancer. Despite multiple treatments and periods in the hospital during a stem-cell transplant, she was determined to continue her education.

According to her classmates and professors, Jessica had a positive, upbeat spirit and an amazing focus on graduating college. She was on track to be a teacher, but the disease got the upper hand and six days after she graduated, she died. It's a very sad story. And yet I am inspired by the way Jessica set herself a goal and, despite the odds, achieved it. And in that process, she showed that it is not our achievements that are so important in our life, it is who we are. Our personal qualities and character traits are what allow us to strive for a particular goal. These qualities are what really matter: they make us successful human beings.

Jessica did not succeed because she graduated, just as she did not fail because she died. She succeeded because of the courage and determination, the bright spirit that she displayed through those four difficult years. She succeeded because the qualities she lived have inspired me and many others. And she has helped us become conscious of how well we are living our lives.

None of us knows how much time we have left. Let's take a cue from Jessica Berry and live full out, pursuing our dreams, authentically and with integrity. If we do that, whether we reach them or not, we will have succeeded.

About The Author
Ready to be a power professional? Get business coach Anne Alexander's free 8 part e-course "Maximize Your Professional Success," at Warning! For real people only. No fakers, please.

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