The University Record, March 18, 1997

Wells shares secret for success

photo, Many of the workshops at the Conference for People of Color focused on life skills like self-defense (at left), led by Elena Weissman (left) and Molena Williams, and Tai Chi (right), a Chinese system that focuses on mind and body fitness, with Tasha Lebow. By Mary Jo Frank
University Relations

Every woman needs her own 15-second commercial---a statement affirming her values and worth as a person---according to Thelma Wells, keynote speaker at the 15th annual Women of Color Task Force Career Conference for People of Color.

"It's imperative that we know some great things about ourselves and be able to share them with others," Wells told a receptive Rackham Auditorium audience March 7, "not so we can be proud or arrogant or puffed up, but so we know we're wonderful."

Wells, the first Black woman in Dallas to become an officer of a commercial bank, now hosts a Christian variety television show in Dallas and runs Thelma Wells & Associates, a motivational speaking and diversity training company.

Noting that we all have limitations, Wells said sometimes stress comes from struggling to achieve the unattainable. A singer, Wells recounted how she took piano lessons for more than four years because she wanted to play while she sang. Hearing little improvement, Wells found a better solution: she asked a friend who is an accomplished pianist to play for her.

photo of Thelma Wells"Sometimes we spend too much time trying to do something we're not good at, or we spend too much money buying things to impress people we don't even like," Wells said. To eliminate some of the negatives in life, she suggested striving for excellence instead of perfection.

Describing herself as a recovering perfectionist, Wells said perfectionists fail to see the good they are doing, have trouble forgetting past mistakes and are "a pain in the neck because they want everybody else to be perfect, too."

Excellence can be attained, she said, if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical and expect more than others think is possible.

"Excellence is more than competence. It is the highest possible standard. Even if you don't meet it, it allows you to regroup and try again," Wells said. Think positively, she advised, "because private thoughts create public actions" and your subconscious believes what you tell it. She also suggested that members of her audience look for opportunities to speak words of praise and encouragement to others and to smile often, she said, because "smiling begets energy and energy begets enthusiasm."

"Positive thinking says I don't care what color you are or what religion you practice. I love you because you're a human being," Wells said.