Once upon a time, all the way back in middle school, the world was your oyster. You always knew you were destined for greatness. When life brought you the ordinary, you would close your eyes and jump off into the extraordinary, picturing a life you were sure you could construct for yourself without anybody’s help. Lately, you’ve been forced to reevaluate and reconstruct those dreams through the microscope of reality. You swing back and forth between skepticism and idealism – sometimes knowing you can do everything you can set your mind to, sometimes forcing yourself to come to terms with the fact that there are certain things you can’t control that could keep you from getting there. There is always a lingering fear that one day you’ll look back on your life and be forced to admit that the dreams of your youth were unrealistic, too grandiose, or simply naïve.
Maybe we all have delusions of grandeur. Isn’t that a scary thought (that we’re not the only ones that know we are going to “make it”)?
Everyone thinks they will achieve great things. Everyone waits for the day when they will find success, love, and wealth. Everyone knows it will happen for them. Some get lucky and are validated. Some do not, and must spend their lives accepting smaller victories. They are forced to convince themselves that their silver medals and purple ribbons where what they wanted all along. The fear of belonging to the latter group will probably always linger in the back of your mind. All you’re looking for is someone with authority to tell you which group you belong to. If your success is not up to you, then you would like to know so that you can learn how to deal with it already. If it is, then you would also like to know, so that you never have to doubt your idealism again. If is there a third option, then you would REALLY like to know about it….perhaps one where the secret to success is a recipe that can be taught, learned, and shared amongst a special group of individuals.
Is hard work all I need to see my dreams come true, or could I fail even if I do everything in my power to achieve them?
Most life questions have two seemingly conflicting, but simultaneously true answers. This one is no different:
Yes, you have full control of your destiniy, and hard work, determination, and commitment are certain to pay off no matter what the circumstances throw at you. But there is a catch: You have to have a definite objective and a realistic plan on how you intend to get there, one that is based on sound research and a clear understanding of the adversities you are going to face.
If I came to you in despair, ready to jump off a bridge, crying hysterically because I failed at climbing the Everest in 48 hours with no equipment, what would you say?
“Yes, you can absolutely climb the Everest – just not that way.”
There are plenty of mountains that can be climbed in 48 hours with no equipment, but definitely not the Everest. You can be as persistent, patient, dedicated, bold, talented, and special as you want…it just ain’t gonna happen.
Perhaps those who cherish their purple ribbons gave up on their gold medals because they went after them with an unrealistic process in mind. Perhaps it’s time to sit down, rethink process, and go after your dreams with a different approach. While all of this is true, this strategy cannot guarantee success anymore than the previous one can.
Even the soundest plans fail to unfold the way they were envisioned. While it is important to embark upon a goal with a clear understanding of the difficulties and the dangers – failure and surprises are guaranteed to be a part of your journey regardless of how good of a planner you are. It’s not just that you can’t climb the Everest in 48 hours with no equipment, it’s that climbing the Everest is something you can’t possibly prepare for, or accomplish with any method you could ever picture in your head before doing it. No one ever gets to execute their plan A as it was neatly written down on paper. But no one ever gets the priviledge of to overcoming initial failure without a proper Plan A.
Even those who envision realistic processes end up accepting purple ribbons. They are the ones who thought life was a neat formula of:
SOUND PLANS + ACTION = SUCCESS.
It is actually more like:
SOUND PLANS + ACTION + PREPARING FOR INITIAL FAILURE + RELENTLESSLY OVERCOMING INITIAL FAILURE + NEVER TURNING BACK = EVENTUAL SUCCESS (ALWAYS ARRIVING SIGNIFICANTLY LATER THAN YOU EXPECTED IT TO).
Gold medals never come to those who refuse to accept the possibility of initial failure – even when they have the soundest of plans under their shoulders. They are special prizes that are reserved for those who understand the real road to success is the one you build after your sound plans have failed.
Andrew Gabelic is the CEO & Founder of Teledipity, a free pocket life coach with an eerie ability to send you the right self-improvement content at the right time (based on your personality and life stage). Check out what it says about you!