This post is dedicated to those who are stuck. To the ones who feel they have stagnated, who have come so far and yet it now seems that they will go no further – you are in good company. This is for those who have lost their motivation and who no longer see the path set before them. To those who are ready to give up or to pursue a new path because this one is clearly going nowhere, this is for you.
Ambition is a fickle mistress. It seduces us with promises of greatness and success. Ambition springs up when we are content. It pushes us forward and dangles the carrot of a new adventure in front of us. We begin with joy, our hearts beating faster, ready to take on the world. Woe to those who are ambitious, for they will taste the sweetness of success before the bitterness of working for it.
The journey is exciting. The path is full of new challenges which we conquer one way or another. We seek advice from those around us. We receive encouragement, congratulations, praises, and satisfaction for being brave enough to do something different and difficult. The new task need not be slaying a dragon, beginning a colony on Mars, or inventing something which changes the world. It is usually something much more mundane – having a child, beginning to exercise, attending school, or changing careers. Maybe it is something even smaller, but to us it is a great new adventure. Millions or billions of people might have undertaken the same journey, but this is our journey. It is new to us and it is exciting – in the beginning.
Time goes on. We fight one battle after another. Some days are a challenge, others a joy. We persevere through difficulties at first because of our motivation brought on by the clear vision of being successful. Later we keep going because it has become our habit. Over time, we find it more and more difficult to press on. Our feet grow heavy. The light around us dims. The praise, encouragement, advice, and support of those around us fades away. The darkness begins to set in and our ambition is nowhere to be found. We question ourselves and our journey. Maybe it’s time to give up.
So here we are. Those who began this journey with passion and vigor, who had the support of others and who saw clearly before us the victory which would come very soon. But it has not. We have worked hard, been loyal to our cause, and fought bravely. Certainly we have faltered from time to time, but in each instance we managed to find our way back to the path and to move forward. But now it is difficult – nearly impossible. We have lost our way and there is no help for us. We are alone.
Is this greatness? Is this success? No, this feels like failure. We have become disappointments to ourselves and to others. We are ready to give up and change course. Let us count our losses, lick our wounds, and find a new journey which will perhaps this time yield better results. Surely this is what we must do, for those who are successful and who finish what they set out to accomplish do not face this much hardship and darkness and misery.
There is good news for us who dwell in the darkness. Day is coming. No failure is permanent unless we allow it to be. We may be lost, frightened, and alone today, but tomorrow is coming. As sure as the sun will rise in the morning, those who are lost in the darkness on their path will see the light once again. We have a term for what is coming next – a “breakthrough.” Think about that. If we encounter an obstacle, we must break through. Think of the forcefulness in this language. Inventors, leaders, visionaries, entrepreneurs make breakthroughs. What are they forcefully moving through if not the very situation of apparent failure and loss in which we have presently found ourselves?
What if our success lies just ahead? If so, we must not give up now. We are closer to finishing now than we have ever been before. Perhaps we are still some distance from our goal, but we are much closer than we were yesterday. Certainly we are closer than when we began this journey. It would be safer, easier, and more comfortable to stop now. We have no guarantees of success. Maybe the next hundred attempts will be failures. We may need to find a thousand ways not to succeed before we find one way which works. Maybe our path to achievement is not straight and paved but winding, hilly, and overgrown. But the path is still there even if we cannot see it.
Blessed are those who persevere, for they will be rewarded. Perhaps not with the object of their pursuit, but by being transformed into ones who are not dissuaded from stumbling forward toward their goal even when the way seems impossible. How many persons in history were on the verge of great discovery or success or achievement but stopped short? We may never know, because their stories are not told. Let us be among those who persevered and found the end of our path. If it was worth beginning, it is worth finishing. Who knows what we will discover?