The truth about making the most of our lives
Much of what I read about success and making the most of our lives focuses on talent. The books and articles teach us how to identify our talents and turn them into strengths. The emphasis is on what we do. We learn about what steps we can take to accomplish our goals in life. It’s typically practical and tangible advice.
This is all good, helpful, and indeed important. The problem is that all too often the advice fails to draw attention to what I think of as character.
If the focus on talent and practical steps is about what we do, character is about who we are.
And this is often what actually is the difference between making the most of our lives or not. Character is what makes the difference to whether we make it or not.
We’ve all seen those athletes who never quite seem to reach the heights their potential should have taken them too. Maybe they got distracted by money or fame, or perhaps they were never prepared to work as hard as they should have. It’s frustrating when we see people miss out for these reasons. And it’s even more frustrating when it’s we ourselves missing out in making the most of our own lives.
Never giving up
One character ingredient that is critical to making the most of our lives is perseverance. How many of us could have made it further in life if we hadn’t given up too early? I know for me that, though I’m pretty sure I had no future as a concert pianist, I wish I hadn’t given up on the piano after only Grade 2.
I know that there are many areas of my life too where I could have made more of a success of if I’d not given up so early or had been prepared to work harder.
Losing the lazy streak
And working hard is another key aspect to character. It’s here, perhaps more than giving up, where I’ve let myself down at times. I have a lazy streak. I like it easy in life. On many occasions I’ve settled for good enough rather than pushing myself to the limits.
Even with my writing. How hard am I prepared to work at it in order to maximise my potential? What sacrifices am I prepared to make to create the time and space to really develop my writing abilities?
I could know all the right steps to take to develop an area of my life like writing, but knowing what to do isn’t the key to success. It’s the character traits of perseverance and working hard that will make the difference.
Being in the middle of the Olympics brings the truth of all this home. I hear and read about the work and the perseverance these athletes put into their pursuit of Gold and I’m blown away. It shames me if I’m honest. It’s not that I even want a life that dedicated to one goal, it’s just that I know I could be working harder to develop my talents, pursue my goals, and achieve my potential.
Consider this a kick up my own backside!