Has anyone every given you praise, genuine praise, for your work but you didn’t see it? Did you ever wonder why that happens? It happens to me sometimes, especially with my writing. People say I am a good writer but sometimes I just don’t see what they are talking about. I figured out why that is and it comes down to one thing: potential. Ira Glass sums it up in pretty well.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” -Ira Glass
I think he perfectly describes any work you do when you are short of your potential. Others look at it and may say it is good but you look at it and know something is missing. You know that there is that special something that you need to put your work over the top and reach your ambitions. However, in the beginning you do not know what that special something is and instead of realizing you just haven’t reached your potential yet, you think you are not good enough. The truth is though, you are good enough you just have not gotten their yet. You only feel that your work is missing something subconsciously we know we can do better.
This is why you need to strive to reach your full potential. Never settle for good enough, always aim for better than you ever imagined. No matter what it is that you are doing never stop improving because you never know how great you can really become. If you keep doing better than you previously did, one day you will look at yourself and your work and realize that it is the work you always knew you could do. Don’t stop there though! In fact, don’t stop ever! If you want to do something go out and do it. If you are not good at first keep working on it. You never know when you have reached your full potential so just keep trying to improving and always strive to be the person you are capable of becoming.
I saw this video on Facebook and was instantly inspired. It demonstrates hard work, dedication, and the no quit attitude I love. However, to me this video is all about the blindfold. As the coach blindfolds his player, he says “I don’t want you giving up at a certain point when you can go further.” Instead of pushing it to the 50 and stopping, where the coach said to reach, he made it to the end zone. This is the key takeaway for me. How often do we set a goal, achieve, and stop even though we can go further?
This happens to me all the time but I never really noticed it until this video. When I am in the gym I do sets of 8. Usually I try to make so I can only get 6 or 7 on the last set but with some exercises I get all 8 and I stop. I stop because I reached my goal even though I could do more. Think about all the times you have done that. It could have happened when you wanted and got a B on an exam instead of the A could have gotten; or maybe it happened when you lost 10 pounds instead of the 15 you could have lost. Whatever the case may be I am sure it has happened to you before; you set a goal, reach it, and stopped.
Really, there is nothing wrong with achieving your goal and stopping because in actuality it is your goal. However, don’t you want to reach your full potential in everything you do? Don’t you want to be the best you you can be?
I hate giving up and even though this really isn’t giving up, it is close to it. This made me start thinking of my goals in a new way. It isn’t just about working hard and not giving up until you reach your goal; it is about not giving up until you surpass your goal and fail. That is what a lot of weight lifters and I do in the gym, we fail. We lift until we can’t lift anymore. This is what we should all do with every single one of our goals; surpass our goals and go until we fail.
I am going to add this mentality to my no quit mentality. I am going to go until my true potential is reach and never give up until I reach failure. I will set my goals and not only achieve but surpass them. I challenge you to do the same. Has there ever been a time where you not only reached but surpassed your goal? How did it feel?
Arthur, the man in this video, went through an amazing transformation that many, including experts, told him could not happen. He refused to accept that he wouldn’t be able to walk unassisted again. He wanted to change his life and knew it was possible. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy and he fell many times but the key was he got right back up. The part that inspires me the most is when he tried to walk. He fell right on his face. At this point many people would give up but he did not. He knew that “if he couldn’t do it today, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be able to do it someday.” Imagine if everyone had that type of attitude. Imagine all we would accomplish.
The other day I was playing basketball with my younger neighbor who is just entering high school next year. We were catching up after I had been away at school all year. I asked him if he knew what he wanted to do later in life and he said be in the NFL and followed it up quickly with “but I will probably be a math teacher.” I didn’t think about it then but I wish I did because if he wants to he can get into the NFL. Yes, it wouldn’t be easy but it is possible and as Arthur demonstrates, that is all you need.
If you have a dream you have to go for it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. The only things you can’t do in life are the things that are impossible and that is a very small list.
However, if you listen to the people who tell you that you can’t, then they are right because if you want something and it isn’t easy you are going to need to put your all into it. When the other people are taking a break, you have to be in there working hard. When the others give up because they did it wrong too many times, you have to do it until you get it right. When you feel like giving up, you have to dig deep and decided if you really want you dream. When no one else believes in you, you have to believe in yourself.
I am a firm believer in the old cliché you can accomplish whatever you put your mind too. Once I figure out what I want to put my mind to I am going to work as hard as I can to make sure it happens. I challenge you to do the same. Has there ever been a time where someone told you that you can’t do something and you proved them wrong? How did it feel?
They say in life it’s about who you know, but that could not be further from the true. Who are “they” that say that anyway? I believe that “they” are the quitters. “They” are the ones that are too lazy, too scared, too worried to work hard and push themselves to their limits. “They” are the ones that let the possibility of failure stop them, instead of letting the opportunity to succeed motivate them. Don’t let fear stop you. Don’t become one of them. When life knocks you down or throws you around get back up again and keep going. Don’t give up.
Yes, maybe who you know has something to do with where you will end up in life; however, who you know is up to you. It’s up to you to make that great first impression. It’s up to you to put yourself out there and meet someone new. It’s up to you make lasting connection that can benefit you later in life. It’s up to you to hit the books instead of the club. It’s up to you to spend that hour in the gym instead of sleeping in. It’s up to you to go for the bowl of fruit instead of ice cream. In the end everything is up to you and how hard you are willing to work for it.
One of my favorite movies, Never Back Down, has this as a recurring theme. This is a great movie, with many powerful messages, that I recommend highly. In the movie, the main Jake Tyler begins training in mix martial arts with a master of the trade. One of the first lessons he learns is that the fight’s outcome is up to him. At first he believes this to be untrue and that sometimes you have to lose. However, throughout the movie he sees that his fights really are up to him. This is an important take away from the movie because not only are his actual fights up to him, but his fight in life is up to him. Where he ends up in life is up to him. But it is not just up to him, it is up to all of us. We all have our own fights in life and we all decide how they turn out. We can either bow our heads down and give up or we can find the will within us and keep going. Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.”
So in the end it all comes down to us and how we fight the fight. We can make excuses like “they” do or we can take on the world and make it our kingdom. Next time you are fighting, ask yourself do I want to be one of “them” or do I want to never back down.