Why is it that we think success comes without sacrifice? Without pain? Without heartache? Without vulnerability? Without blood?
There are times I find myself under the assumption that success will be delivered directly to my lap in a neatly wrapped package, stamped with a “You’re Awesome” sticker as it floats down from the heavens elegantly on a golden parachute. Dave Matthews playing in the background to set the scene, followed by applause and bursting champaign.
It’s bullshit, really. I know I am not the only one guilty of fantasizing about my individual success. Imagining what it looks like, what it feels like, what it tastes like. Whether you want to admit it or not, at some point you have imagined what your life will look like when you have finally made it.
Or at least you should have, it is a huge step in achieving success -- the process of visualizing. Though often times we get in the habit of visualizing success, while ignoring the reality of the suffering we are bound to experience ten fold along the way.
So, when the adversity ghost creeps out of the woodwork and slaps us clean across the face, we sit staring like idiots with our mouths agape… like we just saw a ghost. Well, we did. After all, we never took the time to see it coming. We never prepared, we never thought about what the journey to success actually looks like.
I hate to place blame, but I believe this to be as much our parents, coaches and teachers faults as ours. You got dead last in your little league tournament? No worries! Everyone gets a fucking trophy and a big pat on the back! Pile in the back of mom’s minivan let’s go get pizza!
I can promise you that if you were to walk into just about any 14 year old kids room who has been active in little league sports, you will find a dozen or so trophies labeled “Participation”.
I believe this practice, this “everyone’s a winner” mentality that has been programmed in us has been hugely detrimental to our generation in terms of our perception of what success truly is, what failure feels like and the adversity we will encounter along the way. The good news is that this mentality can be reversed.
Ernest Hemingway said it best…
His words are obviously directed at writers, but they are hugely applicable to any field. Read them like this, “There is nothing to success, all you do is sit down with your passion in hand and bleed.”
If you desire a lot of money, you better be okay with being poor. If you’ve found the girl of your dreams, you better be okay with becoming vulnerable. If you want to change people’s lives, you better be open to getting hurt along the way.
Dream of becoming a painter? Paint until your hands go numb, and then paint some more. Dream of playing college sports? Run until you throw up, and then run some more. Dream of becoming a doctor? Study until you eyes go blurry, and then study some more.
Dream of becoming a writer? Sit down at that typewriter, and bleed your damn heart out. God put that thing in your chest for a reason, now make it beat for something.