If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don’t. If you’d like to win but to think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t. Life’s battles don’t always go to the strong or faster man, but sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can. -Walter D. White
The majority of my life to this point, could be summed up with this short quote. I think if we’re being honest with ourselves, the same applies to us all. We’ve all gone through times where we’ve given up. We’ve all gone through times where our own self doubt has crippled us. Kept us from starting something, or seeing it through to the end. It’s fine and it’s normal. It’s self preservation. The threat of failure too easily outweighs the potential for success. And look, some things (the things we wish to be great at) are hard to master.
But here’s the thing. If we stop for a second, and look at those we idolise, what sets them apart from us? Was Michelangelo born with the ability to sculpt David? Was Will Smith always the go-to, bankable, movie star he is today? Let’s fast forward a few years and take a look at Ed Sheeran— have you heard his singing efforts before refining his style and finding his voice? The one, single thing, that separates any of us from success in anything, is the amount of times we’re willing to fail, adapt, and learn, in pursuit of that success.
It’s how often we are willing to come across an obstacle, and learn to work beyond that obstacle, while still holding the hope and vision of eventual success at the forefront of our minds. A ‘wannabe’ artist discovers he can’t draw hands. How he deals with that, is going to determine whether or not he’s successful in art. Is he gonna throw in the towel, give up entirely, or decide to simply avoid drawing hands? Or is he going to draw hands over and over again, in all positions, from all angles, at all perspectives, until it becomes something he’s capable of? The latter is the path to success.
You can’t write a novel without first failing at writing novels, write vibrant characters until you’ve written flat ones. It’s the lessons we learn in failure, that teach us the way to success. Once we accept this, and learn that failure is the path to success, we are truly ready to achieve success in anything we put our minds to. The only thing left to do is believe it and see it through.
You will come across doubters. You will be pushed down by those around you. Coerced into giving up by some of those closest to you. It’s not out of malice, but out of wanting the best for you, and feeling that telling you something isn’t worth the effort is somehow helping you. Success is a hard, lonely, and rocky path. From the outside looking in, it’s awful.
People don’t see the thousands of hours ‘that guy they follow on instagram’ has spent sketching, and failing, before being capable of creating that awesome time-lapse. They see you tripping up on hands, and tell you not to bother. They believe it’s some kind of god-given gift. That you either can or you can’t. You, however, know that not to be true, and it is only you that can keep going. Despite any naysayer, despite any obstacle, despite any doubt. The knowledge that success is possible, and takes work, is all you need to get there.
So why isn’t everyone a grandmaster at chess, an insta-famous artist, or an A-list movie star? Because it’s hard. And that’s where the work comes in. If you’re certain of something you want to achieve, if you’re dedicated to seeing it through, then its gonna take a hell of a lot of work.
Remember, it takes an average of ten-thousand hours to master any one thing, which does of course vary depending on the level of talent or natural affinity you may have to it. But you don’t have to be a master at it to be successful. You just have to keep going through all the struggle and hardship, knowing that eventually, you will be successful.
That’s all for today folks, keep going!
This post is part of a collaboration with fellow author and blogger Ian Steventon. Each week we put forward a prompt for each other, and have until the following Monday to make our post. Thank you Ian for the wonderful quote and prompt this week! You can find Ian’s blog by clicking HERE.
This week I present the following image as a prompt for flash fiction, no more than 1000 words. If anyone else wants to play along and write a response, please feel free to. Simply post your piece up with the image below and link to this post so I can come see it!