You will not find success in the form of a gift wrapped box handed over for your delight. There is no success to be found in a gift. To truly understand success, you have to be willing to work, and work hard. I think that even people who get to experience success even once in a lifetime understand the basic notion that success isn’t granted, it’s earned.
But here’s something that many people I have met over the past few years don’t seem to understand. Work isn’t just applying yourself for 2 or 3 hours a day and then not picking it up again until tomorrow. Work, the real kind of work that will yield personally attaining success is the kind that is more consuming. It’s more than what you physically do; it is what you think about equally as much. The adage about weight loss being 90% of what you eat and 10% is exercise is similar to that notion. Surprisingly, work is very similar in that if you are serious about attaining a goal, you think about it a good portion of the day. Even when you are not mentally actively dwelling on it, it’s never too far in the recesses of your mind. It’s always there within easy reach for quick access.
Athletes are a great example and probably most universally understood. Olympians train full days, often every day. But when they go home to shower, watch TV, be with their families, go out, or pose for the Wheaties box, their minds are often focused on what their weakness is, what their strengths are, and how they can possibly improve to be an even fiercer competitor. But, that analogy works for just about anyone doing anything. Whether it’s buying a house, raising a family, becoming a nurse, or creating software. What is it that makes them successful? What is it that is the foundational difference between an Olympian and a drunken volleyball game on the beach? What is the fundamental difference between an “A” student and a “C” student? They both will graduate, and both are considered to have met the needed requirements to be allowed to graduate (or practice nursing for that matter).
The difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is primarily two ideals. One, the extraordinary has the ability to set appropriate goals. Two, these individuals have motivation.
We all know people who are perfectly content just getting by and meeting the status quo. Equally, we usually know a smaller amount of people that will cringe at the idea of only attaining the minimum; so they spend more time on their goal. Some people look at that person and call them things like “OCD,” “narcissistic”or“crazy obsessive.” Trust me when I say that the crazed OCD narcissistic person is looking at those that confidently hold the status quo and is thinking, “Good for you if you are happy, but how could you not want to tap your highest potential?”
I struggle with this sometimes. I am self-motivated and ambitious, and sometimes, I can admit it may be to a fault. I cannot recall a time where I did not have goal and push myself to get there. I have wanted to be faster than the boys in class, make the best grade, be the best in the school play, hang upside down the longest on the playground (which may explain a lot about me in the first place), and wanted to jump rope the longest before messing up. Sometimes I was the best (yes, I will never forget outrunning a boy named Shannon who was the “boy athlete” in 3rd grade and all the girls adored him – I just wanted to outrun him). Sometimes I never came close (hanging upside down for too long can cause dizziness and nose bleed for the record).
In junior high, I wanted to be the best softball pitcher around. My parents either contributed to my success or simply reinforced my OCD by hiring a private coach and building an actual pitching mound, home plate, and backstop in our yard. God bless’em. Was I the best in the nation? No. But I was close. I receive many scholarship offers, and even in my junior year of high school I was being recruited. I was (oh, and I still am) left handed, which helped me stand out a little as well. I didn’t get to that status overnight. I had to throw 200 pitches a day, rain or shine. I had to go see my coach twice a week. I played all over the nation against teams that were often older in age than I. I watched videos at home over and over again of the pros, and I watched videos of my own practice and games to see how I could improve. I ate it, dreamed it, walked it, slept it, and I WANTED IT. I got it. I was happy, and moved on to the next goal in life. The other things occupying my life like drill team, volleyball, cheer-leading, honors society…I loved them, too, and I did well in those arenas, but softball was just my joy. I cannot tell you what percentage of my life was spent thinking and doing softball.
Later in life, those goals obviously changed. I have had weight loss goals, child-rearing goals, financial goals, educational goals, and relationship goals. I have failed a few times (okay, more than a few), but not because of lack of effort. I can’t recall setting a goal that I didn’t or couldn’t attain. Currently, I do well in nursing school and have made primarily A’s and 3 college B’s in my college career and graduate this December. I plan to pursue a higher education and achieving my Masters in Nursing one day. I also plan on balancing that pursuit with family, husband, career, and life. I may be 45 before I get there, but I will get there. I get a lot of flak from some other students in my class who chastise me for working hard and constantly remind me that I can graduate with a “C” and still be nurse. They almost belittle my study efforts and success. Of course my family or friends would say, “They are just jealous,” or look for reasons to justify my efforts. I love them dearly, and their support is everything to me. But deep inside me, I don’t really need to be reminded of why they would say those things or why I should keep pushing myself to do my best. I do my best because I hold myself accountable and to the standards I set. I cannot understand being involved in something that will consume my time, my money, time away from my family, and my “free time” while not giving my best. Isn’t that a waste of resources?
I think majority of people I know are perfectly happy just squeaking over the bar and living the status quo in many, if not all aspects of their lives. I love them regardless, honestly. I have nothing bad to say about that mindset. And then there’s the other set of folks I know that just work and work and work, and they hit every goal they set. They are amazing, and their dedication is admirable. I love them equally so. I love it when people are happy regardless of what caused their happiness. I watch the posts on Facebook and get emails of their wonderful news, and in my heart, I rejoice with them! It’s heartbreaking sometimes to see others try to binge on their success. Like when a single guy friend buys a high dollar automobile or gets a beautiful home, and then certain women come around with their hands out. Or when a beautiful woman I know got her breast augmentation after her mastectomy due to cancer – the men that came around (and made comments) stole her joy. People who worked hard have every right to enjoy their success.
Regardless of which personality type you may be, always try to be the best you. Love genuinely and from your heart. Judging others is so easy, and trying to figure out their worst traits is bad for you and them. Look for reasons to have a relationship (not just romantic, but platonic friendships, close friendships, etc.) instead of avoiding them. Our successes are wonderful and deserve to be enjoyed, but they are never going to go with you when you leave this place one day. Nor will they be standing at your graveside telling each other how much you impacted their lives. People will cover that position. The best thing you will leave behind isn’t your fancy house or your fancy car, it will be your legacy that you left in the hearts of those who loved you. That is the best success to have, and the #1 goal we should all carry.