Finishing Strong

In today’s troubled economy it is easy to get sidetracked on longer term goals. The financial and time commitments of worthy aspirations such as an advanced degree, new business, or job certification are often put by the wayside as reality creeps in.

imageI work in a K-12 educational environment in Southern California. The state budget crunch has made things difficult for many people in education. Programs are slashed and continuing education programs have mostly been eliminated. It’s easy to hunker down and put dreams and aspirations on hold.

Yet in reality, this may actually be the best time to improve your skills, revise your resume, and set a path to the future. After all, if your competition for that job promotion or business start is now in a holding pattern, it opens many doors of opportunity for those with a positive vision.

As an inspiration, I would like to tell you a story of two people who have made it through a track full of hurdles and finished strong. Their stories have helped me see that problems are just opportunities in disguise.


dr-jeanne-nelson The first person is my long time friend and mentor, Jeanne Nelson. Jeanne has worked as our library and media coordinator in our school district for many years. Providing text books to over 22,000 kids a year and opening and maintaining numerous school libraries, Jeanne always finds herself in a whirlwind of projects.

The letters and numbers on her computer keyboard are worn off from frequent use, and her constantly ringing phone are a reminder of her overwhelming workload. Yet over the last three years, Jeanne has done something incredible. She pursued her doctorate in education and through thick and thin made it through with a dissertation on the viability of technology in education.

This spring she made it successfully through the program, defended her dissertation, and received her diploma and is now known to us all as Doctor Nelson. In the last three years, Jeanne gave up many of her weekends and spent a lot of time and money on research and project materials.

Through it all, there was one thing that I noticed and many other people commented on. Through thick or thin, Jeanne was determined to complete the program. There was no doubt in any of our minds that she would do it.

It was this determination that saw her through. And it was her determination that makes her such a role model for others. Even in the midst of opening a new High School and Middle School, Jeanne never gave up!

Determination will see you through!


image My other role model for success is someone that I met a few years back through Toastmasters International. The gentleman’s name is Dilip Abayasekara, and his dream was to go the full distance in this incredible organization. Dilip is such an inspiration to many of us in Toastmasters. He completed the entire speaking and leadership program and went on to become the International President.

Along the way Dilip helped many people, including myself, to see that big dreams can come true. Like Jeanne above, Dilip pursued his education and received his doctorate. He is also the author of a popular book, entitled The Path of the Genie.

Dr. Dilip showed me that setting goals, working hard, and having an undying determination to see a project through can take you to places that you never imagined.

He showed me how to finish strong!

With the inspiration and guidance of Dr. Dilip and many people in my local Toastmasters club, I was able to make it through the complete Toastmasters Leadership and Communication program back in 2005 and received the Distinguished Toastmasters designation. When I started in my local club in 1999, I would never have imagined that it would be possible.


We all need role models and Dr. Jeanne and Dr. Dilip are two of the best. With determination, hard work, and a focused vision you can go incredible places. Just be sure to develop great mentors like Jeanne and Dilip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *