Patterns emerge if you live long enough and pay attention as you go. We humans are hard-wired to try to make sense of things, but the sense we make sometimes makes no sense at all. We lack perspective. We may need a different point of view, a higher vantage point perhaps. Like many of my generation, I have struggled both to define success and to achieve it. I have attempted many things, and failed at most of them in some form or other. This is not a problem, unless I make it so. I read piece after piece about success, written by those who have achieved this culture’s highest echelons. It all boils down to the same ancient Chinese proverb:
Fall down seven times, get up eight.
This is where perspective becomes crucial. When I define myself by my falling, I keep falling. I stay stuck, mired in muck of my own creation, holding on to my failures and thereby generating more of the same. When I believe I am “one who falls” because I fell, I manifest endless labyrinthine traps of gnarled roots in my path, daring myself to not trip again. Then, when I invariably do, I add the experience to my body of evidence that I am, in fact, doomed to failure. But there is other evidence here, evidence that does not register in my consciousness when I am focused on my shortcomings. If I fail after having failed before, that means I got up in between, and tried again. The exact same story, viewed through a different prism, reveals an eternal optimist, a determined traveler who keeps on climbing. The story remains utterly unchanged; the message I take from it depends entirely on my point of view.
To succeed at any goal, whether financial, physical, relational, or spiritual, there is one critical action required:
“Never, never, never, never give up.” — Winston Churchill
Other work is necessary, of course, but the one thing that will get you there, the absence of which ensures that you will never arrive, is continued effort.
I stumbled this morning. I’m too sleepy, I said to myself. I don’t want to, I whined. It’s too hard, I complained. I got up again anyway.
I hope you do as well.