This picture of NBA champion Stephen Curry says it all on so many levels. Life is what you make of it. When Steph Curry was drafted 7th in the 2009 NBA draft, there were some naysayers. I do not believe that Steph was one of them. He rolled up his sleeves and went to work. He hit the weights. He practiced thousands of hours. He improved. Like Stephen Curry, our lives are what we make of them. The potential that God has given us is just the beginning of the journey.
Spencer W. Kimball put it this way:
It depends on what it is made of
Mr. Hilton told about a plain bar of iron being worth about five dollars. But that same iron, if made into horseshoes, would be worth $10.50. If it were made into needles, it would be worth $3,285. And if turned into balance springs for watches, its worth would be over $250,000.
Apparently the value of the raw iron is only what it costs to process it from the hill. Its greater value is determined by what is made of it. People are much the same as iron. You or I can remain nothing more than raw material, or we can be polished to a high degree. Our value is determined by what we make of ourselves.
Millet, the French painter, paid 25¢ for a yard of canvas. He paid 50¢ more for a brush and some paints. Then, on the canvas that cost only 25¢, he threw in all the glory of his genius as a painter and gave us a work of art called The Angelus, which eventually sold for $105,000. In other words, 75¢ worth of raw materials combined with inspiration, ability, and enthusiasm can be sold for $104,999.25 more.
In the next decade, millions of young people will drop out of school and shortly thereafter will be seeking jobs—millions of unprepared young people competing for new jobs. Their pay will be less, their working conditions poorer, and their competition more overwhelming than for those youth who persist in making themselves ready for responsible employment. A good education is said to be an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. To secure neither the ornament nor the refuge is a shortsighted approach to life.
Unprepared youth represent millions of pieces of canvas without an Angelus painting on them. They are like tons and tons of iron still in the bar, or at best made into horseshoes instead of watch springs. Over a lifetime, the difference in income between the high school graduate and the college graduate often runs into many hundreds of thousands of dollars. How foolish it is for a person to fail to develop potential talents and thus content himself with mundane things when he could soar into the exciting realms of significant accomplishment. As Whittier wrote: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” 1
- Spencer W. Kimball, On Cheating Yourself, New Era, April 1972, p. 32.