Exist or Excel, Exactly!

Dear Lindsey,

I recently was asked to be the accountability partner for some ladies who are taking the Mental Fitness Challenge. This 90-day personal challenge is designed to improve the fitness – of the mind.

I am especially impressed with someone who will step out of the line of “existence” and move into the field of “excellence” in any field.

It is far too easy to become a woman who lives to “exist”.  We go through the day, allowing the car of life to be driven by the status quo. Succumbing to peer pressure well beyond high school, we can feel awkward if we don’t fit in with the other women. We change our appearance based on the “average” and get to where it almost feels good to just “exist.”  We carry excuses along like, “I don’t need to be a better wife until he’s a better husband.” Or “Other people try too hard; school days are for the kids.”

Life is like a down escalator. If we are not running up, we are riding down. In other words, if we are not doing the work to excel, we end at the bottom. Excel-lent women seem to be heading toward extinction in this crazy world. But girlfriend, you and I can stop Excellent Women from becoming an endangered species!

“Excelling” in any area takes work. Changing results in life starts with changing thinking, and believe me, thinking is the hardest work there is.  Just ask my 11-year-old. I guess that’s what makes me so proud of women who challenge themselves to excel.

Fitness is the easiest category in which these truths show. If I am “excelling,” I have a different outcome than if I am merely “existing,” where my flab and I are sure to end at the bottom of the escalator. When I gained weight last spring, I didn’t feel like I had overeaten, or even stopped exercising, I had just stopped excelling. I “existed” on the treadmill in the morning at 4.0 mph.  I had stopped counting food, and went with a relaxed “what feels right” attitude. And the pounds were found at the bottom of the escalator. I found an accountability partner, and she immediately adjusted my thinking: “Which burns more gas,” she asked, “a car that drives at 55 mph for 30 minutes or a car that goes 100mph, for a while, then 30mph for a while?” My 4mph treadmill was just a 55mph car. If I wanted to burn more, I needed to adjust and excel.

In finances, “existing” is doing what everyone else does. Buying due to the elation of the purchase, spending money on hair, makeup, or even phones all because “it’s normal” is merely existing. After all, have you heard of anyone these days who only has one car or one cell phone, or whose parents don’t pay for the teenager’s first everything?  I had an eye opening on my lack of excelling in this area the first time our business made good money. I had been “the good wife,” buying used clothes for the kids, cooking instead of eating out and delaying gratification for long enough that when we hit a new level of income, I knew it was my time to let it loose!   Always “budgeting” because I believe that is responsible to God who blessed me with the money, I had mentally decided I could afford 3 Starbucks $5-drinks a week. Starbucks was literally on the end of my street, and the caramel macchiato was the perfect afternoon treat (maybe not in the fitness category – LOL!).  Then I did the math. $780. That would be $780 that I planned to give to Starbucks per year. No offense to Starbucks:  but for me, to spend “excel-lently” would not include $780 toward drinks for my splurges.  (Girlfriend, I am NOT condemning anyone who chooses it that way – please read on!) To “excel” in finances, my financial spending had to agree with my priorities in life. I had so many dollars in my pocket, and I wanted those dollars to be spent to agree with my heart. THINKING leads to EXCELLING in finances.

Twitter has made the word, “followers,” a common term. We who “tweet” type online, and our “followers” will see it on their screen when they log on to Twitter. Whether on Twitter or not, every person on earth has “followers”: people who see, hear, or are touched by their influence. Whether good or bad, our influence reaches others. The woman who had a fit on the plane because she was in the middle seat, influenced me to realize she thought I deserved the lesser seat. (I immediately offered to switch – which she declined- unwilling to take help offered by me, a mere peasant. Lol!) The woman who, despite embarrassment, patiently helped her screaming 2-yr-old work out his disappointment that the security employee broke his toy train, reminded me that the child would remember her patient love long after he plays with trains. My friend, Eve, who came at the drop of a hat to help me move my parents’ things before the charity closed, bringing her four kids in tow influenced 1. Me: I was so  incredibly blessed by her willing heart. 2. Her children: They watched their mom go beyond her current circumstances to help someone else. 3.  The people who received the goods for the charity (and their children who also participated) 4. My parents who were so impressed that such people exist even today.  Of course, I know Eve isn’t just existing; she is excelling, and influencing her followers to do the same.

Girlfriend, I love how my husband declared war on the status quo long ago. It has made such a difference in our family. By examining and excelling, we surpass existing, bringing women of excellence as examples out of extinction and into exceptional living. Exactly!

Thanks for being my extraordinary reading friend who is more “extra” than “ordinary”!

God bless,


9 thoughts on “Exist or Excel, Exactly!

  1. Sometimes the line between existing and excelling seems very thin. Thanks for the reminder to always be watchful so that our actions are in line with our priorities.

  2. Thank you Terri, it was good to meet you. I was just glad to help. I’m the older son of the person who recieved the stuff for the charity by the way. I think it softened the hearts of my sister and father (they’ve been a bit negative about me being in the business), I think it softened their hearts to meet you, because you’re a normal, down to Earth person. When you introduced yourself and I realized who you were, I almost fell over in amazement. I have alot of respect for you and Chris, and I love the CD’s you two give. Thanks for all the great books, CD’s, blog posts, talks, etc. that you and Chris have given: they’ve changed my life.Thanks, Blake.

  3. What I love about the MFC and your points here, Terri, is that the process of self-improvement is not confined to one’s professional life and is not a one-time application either. It’s a process that can be applied repeatedly in any area in which we seek to get better.

  4. Terri, you are such a hero in my life and I love hearing your perspectives on how to become a woman of excellence. Your example is creating such a movement for ten’s of thousands and soon to be millions of women. I just feel blessed knowing I can follow your tracks in the sand.

  5. It’s so true Terri! Thank you for the challenge to excel beyond the norm. It takes such courage to dare to be different; to stand out amongst the rest. By God’s grace, that’s where we are headed! Thank you for your example!

  6. Terri,

    Thank you for being “extra”. Extra-kind, Extra-transparent, Extra-servanthood, and so much more. I am very thankful for your perspective and willingness to give through articles such as these. Your examples are always very timely and touch the heart.

    If excellence is available then existing is not an option, right?

  7. Hey Terri, just getting some extra reading in and I came to your blog to see if I missed anything. I didn’t miss anything but re-read this again and wanted to Thank You. You are such an amazing story teller, writer and encourager. I am really enjoying the MFC and each day I can feel myself getting more and more excited and fueled to excel. I pray for strength and wisdom in all areas and when I grow up I want to be just like you!! Love you ❤

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