"Paying the Price
A Roman poet once wrote, “All wish to possess knowledge, but few, comparatively speaking, are willing to pay the price.” One could easily substitute the word success for knowledge and have the same meaning applied. Whether it be knowledge or success, why does something that the vast majority of people want so rarely occur? What are the defining characteristics of those individuals who turn their wishes into actualized dreams?
A world-class pianist performed a concert, and afterward, one of the audience members came up, and praised the pianist for his talent. In the midst of praise, the audience member commented on how they wished they could play like the pianist. The pianist looked at the audience member and said, "To get to the point I am now, I have practiced on average 10 hours a day for the last twenty years. Would you be willing to do that to play like I do?" The audience member begrudgingly shook their head no, and quietly walked away.
While certain people may be blessed with more natural talent than others, each person faces a journey that will be marred with difficulties and pitfalls on their way to success. No matter how much natural talent the pianist in the story was blessed with, there were undoubtedly time periods where it was difficult to reach that next level of success - times where dedication and perseverance were necessary in order to make that next step of progress.
Stage One: Desire
If success were a magical gift that could be bestowed on anyone that asked for it, how many would turn it down? Naturally, success means different things to different people, as not all individuals define success in monetary terms. The arts and many professions and hobbies that individuals engage in provide little in terms of monetary rewards, yet for every individual who reaches the pinnacle in their respective area, there are thousands who lag behind. If you ask any of these thousands if they wished to be as successful or as talented as the people at the top of their area of interest, you undoubtedly would have a collective yes to the question.
It is the rare individual who desires nothing. A lack of desire for wealth, knowledge, notoriety, peace, or talent is foreign to the human condition. In fact, desire is so innately part of the human experience that we should have pity on those that have little to no desire for anything as they are scarcely human.
If you look inwardly, you likely will find desires in numerous areas. It would not be unusual if you wish to be knowledgeable, financially successful, respected, and skillful in those work and hobby areas you engage in. Desire is not the hard part. You join billions of other people who have the same basics desires you have. The question is, how do you separate yourself from the billion-member pack?
Stage Two: Dedication
While we all may be part of the multi-billion member pack who have desires, there are individuals who want to achieve that which they desire more than others. We oftentimes label these individuals over-achievers, type A personalities, or workaholics, but whatever the label, they usually share a common characteristic - they work harder at achieving their goals than others. They pay the price that the Roman poet referred to, in order to achieve the goal that they set out to do.
This hard work manifests itself for long time periods as well. It is far too common for passion to manifest itself in an individual, and for them to work hard for short periods to achieve the desire. They may want to learn to play the guitar, so they buy one, and practice intensely for a few days, weeks, or months. Then one day, the motivation isn't there, and they stop. Pawn shops across the world are filled with the temporary desires that lacked the dedication to see it through.
Becoming proficient at something can be difficult. Becoming really good at something is not easy to achieve without time and energy put into that endeavor. While certain things are easy to maintain once the skill is learned (riding a bike comes to mind), most things require dedication, time, and constant energy in order for success to be achieved. If it came easy to everyone, then we wouldn't put any value on it, would we?
Stage Three: Perseverance
Perhaps the rarest of individuals is the individual who has desires, manifests dedication, and overcomes all obstacles that are thrown their way. One definition of perseverance is, "To persist steadfastly in pursuit of an undertaking, task, journey, or mission, in spite of distraction, difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement" (en.wiktionary.org/wiki/persevere). I like the person I might become if this definition of perseverance could be applied to me.
Distraction comes in many forms, often in the forms of pleasures that are easier, and offer comfort today. Difficulty will manifest itself in many forms, from skills that you may be currently underdeveloped to life problems that present themselves in many forms. Discouragement is far too common, as those that have sold short in life are often envious of even the attempt of success. Tell someone your desires, dreams, goals, and you likely will get looks and comments of disbelief and commentary on how that isn't possible. Too often it is those that are closest to us who offer the discouraging words. We all have shortcomings and have failed, and those close to us know these characteristics and instances well.
There is no reason you can't become the person you want to be. There are a million reasons you and others can give on why it isn't possible. There is a price to pay to achieve the success we want in life. It will require your time and energy, and you will have to develop the perseverance. If you can become this individual, you will belong to a rare class, accomplishing things others will admire and become someone you can be proud of. If this is in a financial area, great. If it is in another area, just as wonderful. Whatever it is, go out and pay the price necessary to accomplish your goals. "