In this issue ~~
There's a myth that once you've found your "right path" and are doing work you love, that opportunities will fall in your lap and everything will evolve effortlessly. Certainly, there are times when it happens that way, but in the long run, success in any endeavor takes hard work and persistence. While talent, skill, connections and luck will help get you where you're going, it's perseverance that will ultimately get you there.
We live in a time when we expect to take a pill or take a course and find ourselves healed or enlightened in an instant. But both artists and sages know that mastery doesn't happen in a weekend workshop. It takes years of persistently applying yourself to your craft or your studies, as well as developing the will and discipline to see you through the tough times.
Watching Olympic champions has been a great lesson to me. I remember watching gymnast Julianne McNamara in the 1984 Olympics, as she fell off the balance beam. While I sat there feeling sorry for her, McNamara hoisted herself back on the beam without missing a beat and completed her routine. She won a gold and a silver in those Olympics. She may have felt sorry for herself later, but I learned that champions stay focused on their goal and don't quit because of a setback.
In the classic Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill states that having a clear vision, along with a strong conviction that you can achieve it, and then holding fast to your vision is an important factor in achieving your goals. Writer Sara Caldwell, in her book, So You Want to be a Screenwriter, gives several examples of screenwriters who went through years of discouragement and finally achieved success because they weren't willing to quit. They stuck it out and believed in themselves, despite evidence to the contrary, as well as friends and relatives urging them to give it up and do something more practical.
The catch is, you never know when success may be right around the corner. A favorite teacher of mine gives this example: A single unit of algae lies on the surface of a pond. Each day, the amount of algae on the surface of the pond doubles. So on the second day, you have two units, four on the third, eight on the fourth, and so on. At first, coverage of the pond surface increases slowly. But then one day, half the pond is covered. The following day, the entire pond is covered. The tricky part in life is that you never know when that half-covered day has come and success is only one step away.
Here are a few steps you can take to help you stick it out:
Setting your sights high can require a good deal of stamina
and endurance. By facing each challenge, you can develop discipline
and a strength of will that will give you the fortitude to face
each subsequent step. And holding onto your passion and conviction
that your goal is worthwhile will keep you moving forward. Be
patient and keep putting one foot in front of another, and one
day you'll turn around and be amazed at how far you've come.
When I'm tired, I've found that it's easy for my negative, discouraging inner voices to creep in. When that happens, I put my work aside and get some rest or do something to pamper myself. Where do your negative voices show up? Begin to notice when and how so you can be aware, protect yourself and not take their messages seriously.
All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance.
Genius is only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it: so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success. As the tide goes out, so it comes clear in. In business, sometimes, prospects may seem darkest when really they are on the turn. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.
If you want to get somewhere you have to know where you want to go and how to get there. Then never, never, never give up.
(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)
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