"I've always been told how average I can be, always been criticized about being average. But I wanna tell you something: I stand here before you, before all these people, not listening to those words, but telling myself, every single day, to shot for the stars, to be the best that I can be. Good enough isn't good enough if he can be better, and better isn't good enough if he can be best.


I learned how to make an impact from the wisest person I ever met in my life, a third-grade dropout. That third-grade dropout, the wisest person I ever met in my life, who taught me to combine knowledge and wisdom to make an impact was my father. My father, wisest men I ever met in my life, my father taught himself how to read, taught himself how to write, decided in the midst of jim crowism, as America was breathing the last gas for the civil war, he decided he was gonna stand he be a man. Not a black man, not a brown man, not a white man, but a man. He literally challenged himself to be the best that he could, all the days of his life.


I have four degrees, my brother is a judge, we are not the smartest one in our family. It's a third-grade dropout daddy. A third-grade dropout daddy who was quoting Michelangelo when I was a cook a Cal Maritime saying us boys I won't have a problem if you aim high and miss, but I'm gonna have a real issue if you aim low and hit. A county mother quoting Henry Ford saying if you think you can or if you think you can't, you're right. You say it takes knowledge and wisdom combined to grow your influence so that you will make up an impact. You'll be a shipmate that others can count on.


Aristotle said you are what you repeatedly do, therefore excellence taught be a habit, not an act. Third-grade dropout, a cook was modeling excellence for his boys, combining academic knowledge and old-school wisdom, that's what makes an impact. Wisdom will come to you in the unlikeliest sources, a lot of times through failure. When you hit row-bottom remember this: while you're struggling, rock-bottom can also be a great foundation from which to build, and from which to grow. I'm not worried that you'll be successful, I'm worried that you won't fail from time to time, person that gets up off the canvas and keeps growing, that's the person that will continue to grow their influence.


I met the finest woman I ever met in my life. Trina Williams from Lompoc, California and we were all dancing, we're just excited, and I decide in the middle of dancing with her that I would ask her for her phone number. The next day we walk to Baskin and Robbin's ice cream parlor. My friends couldn't believe it, this is been forty years ago, and my friends still can't believe it. We go on a second date, and a third date and a fourth day, we go together for a year, two years, three years, four years by now Trina's a senior in college. We get married, we had a few children, our lives are great.


One day Trina finds a lump in her left breast, breast cancer. Six years after that diagnosis me and my two little boys walked up to mommy's casket... and for two years my heart didn't beat, if it wasn't for those two little boys there'd have been no reason for which to go on, I was completely lost. That was rock-bottom. You know what sustained me? The wisdom of a third-grade dropout, the wisdom of a simple cook from California Maritime Academy. We're at the casket in College Station Texas. I've never seen my dad cry but this time I saw my dad cry, that was his daughter, Trina was his daughter, not his daughter-in-law, and I'm right behind my father about to see her for the last time on this earth and my father shared three words with me that changed my life right there at the casket. It would be the last lesson he would ever teach me, he said: "Son, just stand, you keep standing... you keep standing, no matter how rough the sea you keep standing and I'm not talking about just water, you keep standing. No matter what you don't give up."


I learned that lesson from a third-grade dropout who was a cook at Cal Maritime, who said boy you keep standing, no matter what. I stood and a miracle took place. Let me take you back to two days before Trina died, no hair because of chemotherapy could it's. A tummy pooched out because of a liver no longer working. She weighed about 75 pounds (34kg) and as clearly as I'm talking with you today these are some of her last words to me. She looked me in the eyes and she said: "It doesn't matter to me any longer how long I live, what matters to me most is how I live." I've come here with honor with bells on, to ask all one question, a question that I was asked all my life by a third-grade dropout, how you living? how you living, every day ask yourself that question how you living.


Here's what a cook in the dining center would suggest you to live this way: that you would not judge, that you would show up early, that you'd be kind, that if you're gonna do something you do it the right way. That cook would tell you this, that it's never wrong to do the right thing, that how you do anything is how you do everything, and in that way you will grow your influence to make an impact. In that way, you will honor all those who have gone before you who have invested in you, from teachers to grandparents to mom and dad, and when you combine that academic knowledge with that wisdom, oh my goodness, you will change the world."

Who is Rick Rigsby

Dr. Rick’s dynamic presentations motivate, empower and inspire worldwide—from Africa and Asia, to the Americas, Europe and Canada. Rick’s audiences include Fortune 500 companies, academic communities, and service organizations. The internationally acclaimed speaker is a favorite among professional sports organizations, including the National Football League and the PGA.

Find out more about Dr. Rick Rigsby on his own website

MulliganBrothers Youtube channel

Check out also the youtube channel of MulliganBrothers, where you can find other amazing inspirational and motivational videos.

I want the world to be better because I was here
Will Smith