Strive for Excellence No Matter Where You Start in Life

Life isn’t a race. It’s a marathon. Any goal takes time to achieve. But what happens when your life starts with a bad home environment. No family support (or minimal) or the home life is all about survival. Goals are secondary. Basic needs come first.

Photo credit: LinkedIn

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Motivation

As we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Motivation (Yes…I went there, but don’t run away yet. I promise this isn’t your Psychology 101 class all over again!), physiological needs must be met first before we work out way up the pyramid. Physiological needs include basic water, food, sleep, breathing, etc. These basic needs are followed by:

  • Safety needs
  • Love/belonging needs
  • Esteem needs
  • Self-actualization

All of our needs must be met before we can reach self-actualization. What is self-actualization? The simple definition is:

noun: self-actualization; plural noun: self-actualizations; noun: self-actualisation; plural noun: self-actualisations
the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.
You didn’t need all that information, but it’s lovely seeing the dictionary definition.


Isn’t that what we all want? That’s striving for excellence. It’s what drives us to our greatest potential.

Basic Needs

So what if our basic needs are not met? It’s easy to turn to drinking, drugs, gangs, gambling, poor choices, etc. out of frustration or an escape from the reality. On the other hand, if you keep your eyes on excellence- that is the excellence you are capable of or desire- this will help you make decisions to avoid any choices that will sway you from your prize (fulfilling your goals).

Short Example on Striving for Excellence No Matter Where You Start in Life

I have many personal examples that I hope to share a little over time. Here is a post on How I Paid for College and Put $5000 in an Investment Account. I had no help from my family to pay for my bachelor’s degree, and I walked away debt free. My family couldn’t financially help me. I also didn’t have the support, but I did it.

The example I want to use in this post is about a family I see at my eight-year-old son’s soccer games on Wednesday nights.

That’s my son, Jy, in the white shirt.

Some people start in life with much. Maybe this is a “head-start” up Maslow’s pyramid. Others maybe start with very little. This family doesn’t have much, but every single Wednesday, they are at the soccer fields selling snacks, drinks, corn, and tamales. The mother only speaks Spanish. I wish I knew how to speak Spanish (being half Puerto Rican), but I don’t. It’s a goal of mine one day. Back to the story.

This corn isn’t healthy, but I love it this spicy way!

There are many things this family could do with their time, but I believe by being on the soccer fields every Wednesday, they are doing what they can to better their lives. I don’t know what the goals or dreams are for this family, but I hope it is for the children to attend college one day or get a scholarship from playing soccer or the parents can open a little food place or truck. No matter what their goals are, I honor them for making the delicious food that I support and buy each week. They work hard. In my eyes, maybe this is striving for excellence considering maybe where they started.

I know you want some! Yum!
This tamale was really good.

In Summary

I don’t believe we need to win the Nobel Peace Prize or a Newberry Medal to be excellent. Now, these are definitely excellent contributions and honors, but few receive these. I think we examine our current situation and strive for more. Run (or walk) your marathon. Keep your eyes on your long-term goals and passions. This will help you climb Maslow’s pyramid and get there.

Media credit: Quora Martin Luther King, Jr. is very inspiring. He makes you feel like you can do anything. And maybe you can one step at a time.

Let me know your thoughts. Do you have any experiences to share? Thanks for reading! ❤️

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50 thoughts on “Strive for Excellence No Matter Where You Start in Life

  1. Excellent post!! I started way deficient in the Love and support and encouragement departments. And a lot more. But it seemed I looked out with very wise eyes deciding at a very early age to strive for excellence. First though I had to work through the dysfunctional patterns in order to know self Love and from there built my world according to me. It is very difficult acting in warm ways for me because I was never taught how to interact in a healthy way. I was so abused that even today i carry with me a fear of being hurt. My biggest stumbling block is relationships with humans. Not with animals however for they flock to me recognizing the Love in my heart. This post really I appreciated. Thank you so much! 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AmyRose, Thank you for sharing and being honest. I was abused growing up as well. My mother had an elementary school education level, and my mother remarried four times with not always great men. My father was in and out of the picture but always lived far away. It was about survival in my home. I am the fourth of five girls (no brothers). My older sisters went wild and got into a lot of trouble due to our home environment. As you said, I looked at the world through very wise eyes. I wanted more for myself. I focused on school. I didn’t have the support at home, and I had a teacher and a counselor who told me to get a vocation. College isn’t for everyone. I proved them wrong. I couldn’t do anything about where I started, but I sure could set my eyes on excellence and achieve it no matter who stood in my way. As you said, it wasn’t easy. I struggle to show affection because it wasn’t given to me either. Hugs don’t come naturally. It is something we will always work through. Thank you for opening up and sharing. ❤️​

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just knowing you had a similar childhood pricks at my heart and if I allowed those emotions to go to the place within my heart that has the horrors, I would not stop weeping for you. No child should ever ever experience what we did! I’ve resolved the fact that I will struggle the rest of my life with certain aspects of life. I am honest I’ll give you that and I’m proud to be so! I learned to lie and cheat just to survive and so to learn another way speaks of the character I hold dear. I’ve really been praying of late that real true friends come into my life and with them I can finally trust without hesitation. I have some friends on here that are like that but I want this as well in real life. Just to give you an idea how long I’ve worked on myself my next birthday is my 60th one. There is so much more I want to do! As I live my daily life with intentioned purpose and respect for all I know I live my Truth. I could honestly talk to you forever. To walk away from a high paying job to go after your real dreams is so darn remarkable! You are remarkable! You just did not survive but now you are reaching out to others. There is no greater achievement then this. You won!!! ❤❤❤

        Liked by 1 person

        1. AmyRose, Thank you very much for your kind words. Yes, I scratch my head at times because I walked away from a great job. I couldn’t juggle everything, but I feel like I’ve overcome so much. I would love to give back. Hopefully, I will through my words, connections, etc. I don’t know what the future holds, but I keep walking forward. There will always be certain aspects of our lives where we struggle. I agree 100%. But we are strong. 😀​ I do feel like I won, but I still have so much more to give and accomplish. And so do you! ❤️​ As you said, there is so much more you (and I) want to do. I’m 38. We have time. We won! 🙌​

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You will not hear me speaking like this on my blog. My mother is still alive and she is one of my followers. I chose to not only forgive her but to press on in forming a relationship with her. Out of respect for her I do not discuss things as I have here. Thank you for giving me this space to state my Truth. 💕

            Liked by 1 person

            1. AmyRose,
              I don’t normally talk about deep personal things like this on my blog either. My mother doesn’t go on the internet either, so that’s good. I forgave my mother, but I won’t forget nor pretend it didn’t happen. I pressed on with a relationship with her too. Interesting the parallel. And you are welcome! ❤️​ And I prayed that I’d connect with one person today. I did!

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! Creative and concrete interpretation of Hierarch of Needs. I love your examples. Maslow is my favourite psychologist! I refer to his work often with both my nursing students (I love that you have a PhD in nursing. Wow!) and in life. Andrea 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You are so right about “life is not a race. It’s a marathon” It is. There are stages and steps a person needs to take before they achieve their dream. Your post was well written, and I love it because it was connected with true and sad stories. It bugs me a lot seeing people struggling, mainly because I’ve been there and It wasn’t easy. But, I always say to people that all you can do is all you can do, but you make sure that you do all you can do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oristel,
      Thank you for sharing. I see you work with the youth. I ❤️​ that. I have a special place in my heart for the youth because I had a hard youth and the decisions you make those years can make or break you. It seems you have overcome a lot as I have. I love the positive attitude of “make sure that you do all you can do.” I agree 100%! You are in control of your future. No one else is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are very welcome! Yes, you are correct about “you are in control of your future.No one else is” I work a lot of struggling youth. They need someone to look up to and I try my best to be that person for them by setting a model. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Another great post. I’d say those folks are right where they need to be. More parents need to be that way. That’s one of the investments in their life that will really pay off in the end.


    1. Thank you! My daughter plays competitive soccer. She is 11. She’s pretty good. Playing anything at a high level takes dedication and hard work. You should share my post on Grit with your students. I just posted it today. Grit takes a combination of passion and perseverance. It sounds like you have both. ❤️​

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is awesome your daughter is playing! What state are you located in? Who knows if ill be traveling your way that we could connect and I could train your daughter with my Kick’N It lessons!
        I will look at your Grit post. I actually went to a speech at the soccer convention this year and their book was called GRIT. I loved the concept! Looks like you have some as well if you’re posting it and being successful reaching people with it 🙂
        All the best, -J

        Liked by 1 person

        1. OOH, we would be all for training! She plays on an all boy team right now called Tactical FC. She just finished a tournament here in Vegas, Mayor’s Cup, where she guest played for a girl team. They made it to the finals and lost :(. She scored several goals this tournament and had a blast.

          I have a slot of grit. Ha ha ha. It keeps me going. 🙂 🙂

          If you are in Vegas for anything, please let me know. We will take you up on your Kick’N It Lessons!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That is awesome she is playing on a boys team! Ive heard of the mayors cup. Ironically, I am going to be in Vegas this March 16-20 for a recruiting trip! We definitely have to connect! Your daughter can be my first “official” Kick’N Lesson!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. My daughter will be in town that weekend. It is the soccer tournament season. We can meet up for sure. That will be fun. I just followed you on Twitter. I’m not that great with Twitter. Ha ha. If you do FB, I’m Ipuna Estavillo Black. We can connect there too.


                1. My daughter has played in the Players Showcase Tournament before. Not sure if she will be playing this time. Colleges are recruiting her yet because she’s only 11. Ha ha Something to look forward to later. It is a big tournament.


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