Posts Tagged ‘perseverance’

Too often we are so preoccupied with the destination,
we forget the journey.
~ Unknown

One vacation day. Sixteen hours in the car.  Nearly 960 miles added to the odometer.  Scenic travel through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.  Two stops to refuel. Two additional stops to stretch the legs.

The Aunts from Ohio had been summoned.

At the other end awaits one very excited four-year-old, a pink tutu, and three minutes of Bob Marley singing Three Little Birds:

. . . “Don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

It’s Summer’s first dance recital. Her chance to shine. To excel at something her older brothers don’t care about and for which her younger sister doesn’t yet have the coordination.

A middle child’s first moment in the spotlight — literally.

Summer has been taking lessons since last fall. Every week she has been introduced to new exercises, moves, dances, and music. It’s her thing.

Over Easter, she brought her dance costume with her to Ohio to give us a preview. She flitted and fluttered around the living room, up on tiny toes, arms moving like a butterfly, to a rhythm she alone could hear.

As the curtain opened for Act 11 on Friday night and the lights came up in the small auditorium in Richmond, 11 delightful preschool dancers appeared. White dance shoes pointed, hands positioned, all eyes on the instructor watching for the cue.

It was magical. It was fun. It almost fell apart — but the girls, under the skillful guidance of their teacher, held it together through the end. The crowd clapped and cheered, whistled and shouted.  Grandparents wiped tears. Parents breathed a sigh of relief.

Two aunts from Ohio were oh, so happy to have made the trip.

In five years, I don’t know if Summer will remember the details of this night. How excited she was to wear make-up for the first time, that Dawn and I were present, that her father handed her a huge bouquet of flowers during intermission, or that we went to Red Robin to celebrate.

Until Summer has children of her own, she probably won’t realize that her mother sat in the seat next to me feeling more anxiety than the dancers — but certainly less than their teacher.

What I hope she carries with her is that the journey brings its own reward — it can be just as fulfilling as the destination. The the work is worth it. That if you dance long enough, the spotlight will eventually shine.

The three minutes she was on stage could not begin to showcase all of the talents Summer has developed or the new skills she has mastered that led up to the night of the recital.  In life, as in dance, the destination doesn’t shine as brightly without the journey.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward;

but it is the journey that matters, in the end”

~ Ursula K. LeGuin

Keep dancing, Summer!

Whatever you are, enjoy the journey!


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There are but two roads that lead to an important goal and to the doing of great things:

Strength and Perseverance.

Strength is the lot of but a few privileged men; but austere performance, harsh, and continuous, may be employed by the smallest of us and rarely fails of its purpose, for its silent power grows irresistibly greater with time” [Johann von Goethe].

I recently heard someone say that the two most difficult things for a person to do is to start and finish: the courage to begin and the perseverance to see it though to the end.

New ideas are brimming with excitement and and colorful plans for the future. They are glossy and slick.  They hold unlimited potential. They’re brand new –waiting for you to get behind the wheel and take off.

But taking off requires risk and action and uncertainty. As long as you keep your idea tucked away in the garage, moving it out only to wash and wax, or show off to the neighbors, you can safely assume there will be no accidents.

I’ve seen people talk about their idea with friends and family, post pictures of it on FaceBook, send Twitter updates,  and even blog about their dream. They subscribe to the magazines, join the clubs, read the books, and ask for advice. Unfortunately, all too often what they don’t do, is actually start it.

As Elvis Presley sang, they “need a little less conversation and a lot more action.”

On the other hand, I have seen people willingly jump in with both feet and never look back. The excitement and thrill of the new idea is so alluring and enticing that their battle cry is “Immediate Action Required.”

The “starting” is not their problem — it’s the “finishing” that is the issue.

Before long, the shine wears off and the crowds stop noticing and all that remains is the “work” of the vision; the critical part that is neither fun nor glamorous.  So they start looking around for something else to catch their attention and, before you know it, they are off and running in a new direction.

The plan is left in pieces, strewn about like last week’s garbage.  Not that the mission has become any less valuable — it’s just that the day-in day-out activities required to reach the goal no longer entertain or fulfill.

I really like what Gamaliel Bradford said about these types of people. “In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are.”

Unfortunately, few tasks bring the thrill of opening night or the splendor of an Olympic Medal Ceremony. If you are unwilling to commit to the tasks that will lead you to your dream (those critical, yet mundane, things that few people notice), you won’t ever reach your destiny.

But when you are diligently determined to stay the course, when you remain steadfast in your pursuit of excellence, when you are willing to put in the long hours and the late nights, you will accomplish great things!

Every worthwhile accomplishment,
big or little,
has stages of drudgery and triumph;
a beginning, a struggle, and a victory.”

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation” [Robert H. Schuller].

Winning is fun. Becoming successful is something most of us strive for, regardless of our field of endeavor. We dream of being an “overnight success” and enjoying the fame, riches, and notoriety that comes with it. We celebrate the stars, the big shows, the flashy productions, the gold medals.

We measure success by book deals inked, degrees obtained, promotions achieved, roles awarded, clients signed, and trophies won. The headlines, parades, articles, video clips, morning news program, and late night talk shows celebrate spectacular achievement.

What we are hesitant to discuss, however, is the preparation that is required to scale the pinnacles of success. Why is that? Why do we minimize the planning and effort, the long nights and disappointing days, the empty bank accounts, the staff turnover, the uninteresting yet critical research, the persistence, the rejection, and the dead ends — the hard work — that is part of the process?

“Perseverance is the hard work you do
after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did”
[Newt Gingrich].

Could it be, that we want others to think we achieved success easily, encountering few obstacles or disappointments? Have we convinced ourselves that by revealing the “dirty little secrets” of preparation, sweat, and hard work required to reach the goal, our “superior talent” appears diminished?

Don’t be absurd! Celebrate the journey. Each challenge you have overcome, every disappointment you have experienced, and the dead ends you have encountered, do not signal failure. “What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step to something better” [Wendell Phillips].

I’ve learned what George Washington Carver said is true, “There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation — veneer isn’t worth anything.” The bad news is there really is no such thing as an “Overnight Success.” The good news is that your preparation will pay off if you are willing to stay the course. Regardless of where you are in the journey — if yesterday was a crushing disappointment or a jubilant victory — you decide the next step.

A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive, and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done” [Vince Lombardi].

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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