One of my favorite quotes is by author Richard Bach, who once wrote, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” It resonates with me because people often think of successful people as ‘lucky’, as in ‘he/she catches all of the breaks’, when in fact their so-called luck is really about the hard work and preparation that came before the break. Still, as almost any ‘successful’ person will attest, hard work and preparation are never enough.
Success not only requires vision, leadership, connection and teamwork; it not only demands that we become life long learners, honing our skills in preparation for opportunities which lie before or ahead of us; but success, perhaps above all else, requires tenacity. Success requires a commitment to one’s vision and a resolve to see it through, no matter what life might throw in the way.
On every journey towards a dream, the path is paved with potholes, road bumps and detours. But almost anything worth doing…any dream worth pursuing…requires hard work; it also requires a resolve to stay in the game, to stay focused, and to push forward. It is not a question of if there will be detours and distractions, setbacks and roadblocks. There will be. Often. It’s what we do under these circumstances that makes all of the difference.
This morning I awoke to disappointing news. News of a roadblock on my personal journey. News of a challenge. News that for a moment, took the wind out of my sails and the song out of my heart. For about 30 minutes, a really solid 30 minutes, I felt sorry for myself. I was disappointed, angry and frustrated, but disappointed above all else. Worse still, I could think of nothing I could say or do that might make a difference. Thirty long minutes of dashed hope. And then? Then I got a grip. Then I got a hold of my emotions, refocused, and thought about my journey. What had really changed, after all? A door is only a door. A path is only a path. There will always be more than one door and more than one path. I needn’t take it personally. Why should one setback alter my course?
In that moment, as I tried to turn this news into a teaching moment for my children as I drove them off to school, my mind flashed back to a time when I once spoke to a group of high school seniors about finding their voice and feeding their passion. The students and I had spent a great deal of time talking about motivation, tenacity, and resolve. I asked them, “how does the word ‘no’ make you feel?” “Do you give up easily or do negative words fuel your resolve?” “What motivates you to push through challenges?” Then I shared a personal story. It was the true story of how one of the world’s largest corporations once told me “no” when I approached them about supporting a cause near and dear to my heart. Despite my best preparation, despite the favorable connections that enabled me to first open that dialogue (the so-called ‘lucky break’), the conversation did not go well. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I was disappointed, angry and frustrated…angry above all else, and for much longer than my 30 uncomfortable minutes this morning.
For two weeks you could not get near me. I was radioactive with fury, and then something wonderful happened. “No” did not de-motivate me. “No” did not cause me to shrink my vision and give up. Instead, “no” only fueled my dream, lighting a fire-in-my-belly like none other…one that not only led to this company’s subsequent commitment to my cause, but to a larger community engagement – one that has had a far-reaching ripple effect, perhaps none of it possible had I not first been told “no.” Of course it did not happen overnight and it did not happen by itself. It required a deeper level of commitment to the cause, including personal sacrifice; it required a willingness to push forward and stay committed to the vision, regardless of obstacles along the way.
Dreams test our resolve. They test our commitment. They test our strength and our character and our willingness to stay the course. Sometimes these tests – whether a “no,” whether a failure, or whether a closed-door; sometimes these setbacks are the very catalysts which ultimately enable our dreams to come true.
How have your dreams been tested along the way? Do you shrink in the face of challenge, or rise to the occasion? How have the obstacles along life’s way shaped your larger vision? What tests your resolve to stay the course? How hard will you work, how much are you willing to sacrifice, and how committed are you to following the dreams of your heart?
6 thoughts on “Testing Our Resolve”
Road blocks and traffic jams in life are hard to deal with head on.When dreams, goals or actions are blocked in some way it allows you to do what too many have forgotten how to do. Stop and think for a moment. Time to think gives perspective a chance to win over and ascertain another course of action or just simple patience. Too many people in today’s ultra connected (or disconnected) world get so wrapped up in “insant” everything that they have forgotten the old adages, or at least pre-internet. Churchill said “It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time” so even if your dream seems to be blocked there are always details that you have put off that can get you one link closer to give you a different perspective.
Longfellow knew that dreams came from labor and not giving up in this verse:
“Let us be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate,
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.”
There is no shame in falling down, just a lesson to learn and another chance to try another way. For me with no test or trial, success is never as sweet.
I love this, Simon! You’re right…too many people give up too quickly, and the victory is sweetest in having overcome the challenges and obstacles along the way. When it comes to dreams, there is always a way…sometimes the secret lies in finding the hidden path…in taking the road less traveled.
As I am nearing 50 I have discovered that the path I want to take in life is that of an actor.
As I read this story I find more and more of a commitment to my dreams and desires even tough they fall way outside the every day standards of what most people call a “real job”.
Pray for me…..
When we allow the ‘standards’ of others to define what is ‘real’ to us, we give up our own voice and power and in doing so, often lose our way and our dreams in the process. Hold fast to your dreams and honor who you most authentically are. In that way, you may not avoid the struggles that are inherent in every journey, but you will be at peace with yourself. Best of luck to you!