Ever wonder what that really means? I have, and I’ve thought about it a lot. It sounds so easy. Sounds like you should be able to just go out there and grab yourself some BIG success. Sounds like something off a cereal box; but it isn’t. Going for the Gold is labour intensive, down in the mud, hard work. It means sacrifice, and determination. It means believing in you when others may not. It also means continuing to move forward even when you don’t believe in yourself.
Recently I read an article by Steven Pressfield about aiming high with your goals. As I read it I thought, yeah, I get that! You see, for most of my life I just went along with the flow of whatever came along. I had some really good times, and some really bad ones. I didn’t strive for anything too hard, but I didn’t stop completely either. I had no real goals, other than limited, day to day things. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s vitally important to have both short and long term goals. Sometimes just getting through the day is a worthy goal.
But what about when you REALLY want something? Well, this writing gig is like that for me, and it’s showing me what I’m made of. I haven’t reached my gold medal goal yet by a long shot, and am still waaaay back from it, but I have my sights set high and my vision is pretty clear. I don’t know how or when I’m going to reach it, or even if I’ll reach it, but I’m going for it anyway.
Pressfield talks about overcoming resistance in his book, The War of Art, and when I first heard about this thing he calls “resistance”, during his interview with Oprah, I was blown away. You see, we all come up against it, and it seems that the closer we get to our goal, the stronger resistance becomes. We find all kinds of reasons to sabotage ourselves. We allow others to blow up our dreams and goals. We stumble, then refuse to get up. According to Pressfield, those are all resistance hard at work, doing it’s best to stop us from achieving our goals.
But somewhere along the way it’s also occurred to me that it takes more than dogged determination to succeed. There has to be determination, talent, and grace. I believe it’s like a trinity; you need all three at the same time to really succeed. That’s what makes Going for the Gold so hard.
I said I also believe there has to be some element of grace at work in your life and belief system. I mean think about it! You can’t ever get where you want to go alone. Other people, opportunities, God, the Universe, doors that open and close, all that stuff is at play throughout our lives. Grace, to me, means accepting those bits of good that come our way and being thankful for it. It doesn’t mean trying to use or manipulate them. It means valuing and recognizing the people and opportunities that come our way, whatever the source.
I’ve seen too many people try to get ahead by stepping on the backs of others. They think they’re on the stairway to heaven, but they aren’t really. One day one of those backs will break, or move away, and the climber will be left dangling in mid-air. I propose accepting any and all help you can, giving thanks for it, valuing what you are given or taught, and then paying it forward when and where you can. That builds strong stairways. It means that others will continue to help you, rather than try to find ways to tear you down. Now, it doesn’t mean that as you rise, others won’t feel jealous or try to hurt you, it just means that you personally will know that you deserve to be where you are and can keep climbing.
One of the reasons we cheer for the athlete who gets the medal is because we see ourselves striving for something more. We want them to win because we want to win. We want to know that it’s possible to win, even when we’re not actually in the game. But make no mistake, those of us in the game, or arena, are working our asses off! If we’re smart, and thoughtful, we’re also trying to help our comrades succeed and win the medals too. That’s because success is a joint effort, and there’s enough to go around for everyone. Besides, it’s so much more fun when we work with, not against, others.
I’ve been told I’m not a competitive personality, but I am. I was even told by one boss in the past that I didn’t have an entrepreneurial spirit, but of course I do, just not in the business I was in at the time. You see, I’m competitive against myself, not other people. I push myself to do better, to learn more, and to be better. Right now I’m out actively seeking an agent to represent me and my next novel, and I know from experience that I need this person to help push, pull, and teach me what I don’t know. I recognize that others have experience and clout in areas where I don’t. I could try to go it alone, but I would rather be part of a team that reaches for the same gold medal. For now, that’s my choice. But even within a team, I’m well aware that I’m responsible for myself. I know I’m responsible for putting forth my best effort and not relying on the team to do the work for me. To me, that’s team work!
So, the next time you think about Going for the Gold, think hard about what you want, why you want it, and make a plan for how to get it, Dare Greatly, and be prepared to work your ass off!
Theodore Roosevelt once said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”