Friday, September 23, 2011
Most Journeys Are More Like a Marathon
Whatever your perspective, I'm pretty thankful I've lasted this long. While I love to write it would be easy to think that I'm out of ideas or it's just not worth putting in the time. But over a couple of years quite a few readers seem to have been helped by my sharing while others are just finding out that they too can learn something from an older, more experienced guy.
My total, whatever it represents, does remind me that most good things and the overcoming of most challenges requires a long-term effort and commitment. Anybody can start most anything. Only a few in the big scheme of things finish or last.
Lots of people start to write novels, but how many Grishams are there? Myriad climbers have begun the trek up Everest, but only a small percentage make it to the top. Thousands have started music lessons but there are relatively few virtuosos.
So what is typically true of finishers, of those who reach the upper echelons of their craft, talent, relationships or climb? A couple of things. First, they understand from the beginning that their commitment must be for the long haul. While they can enjoy the small victories, they only savor the larger gains. They think in terms of the big picture.
Whether their journey is their marriage or the overcoming of a major illness, their mindset is the same. Small disappointments and setbacks may discourage them but they are not defeated. There's a wonderful challenge in the New Testament that speaks to this way of thinking. "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair . . . struck down, but not destroyed." (II Corinthians 4:8)
Second, they sacrifice the good for the best. They realize that there are certain things that may be desirable that they must lay aside if there are to reach their ultimate goal. I remember years ago hearing a young high school boy play one of the most incredible trumpet solos I had ever heard at Interlochen Music Camp. We knew the director of the orchestra and mentioned our enjoyment of his playing and how impressed we were.
The director smiled and simply said, "Remember, he gave up most everything else to play like that."
Third, they always have a greater purpose or goal in mind beyond the present. Most people who prevail in life have something or Someone within them that spurs them on. Some find their power in God Himself. I believe He's the greatest and most important power we could ever know. Others get their strength from a hero, parent or friend. While yes, selfishness has produced dramatic results in many who achieve great things, it rarely produces great things in great people.
So whatever you're doing and whatever you deem in that to be important, remember that it will require more than starting to be successful. You must see beyond the present and beyond yourself. And when you do your likelihood of completing your daunting journey is dramatically increased.