Story 3: The Potential To Be Great
There’s no moral obligation to be great in life. There’s no requirement that you be successful in life. You don’t have to be the best you can be or live up to your full potential.
But if you don’t live a life seeking success, seeking growth and seeking to be great, you won’t be very happy. Happiness depends on progress and on growth. If we are not progressing and growing, if we don’t see a future that is better than the present, if we are not living fully, we won’t be happy.
Happiness is an automatic part of life as long as there is growth. That is what living things do, they grow. A tree will grow as tall as it can. A person should also grow as much as they can. We should be continually learning.
By continuing to learn, we are growing, we are making progress. This is how we fulfill ourselves. When we fulfill ourselves, we live up to the expectations we have of ourselves. We can look in the mirror and know we have done our best; we did what we planned to do.
Self-fulfillment is a personal thing. Only we know if we have fulfilled our own wishes and dreams. Only we know if we really gave it our all. Only we know if we quit too soon.
And when we know we didn’t do our best, we didn’t do all that we could or should’ve done, we are disappointed. We are disappointed in ourselves. It’s a self judgment that only we can apply to ourselves and that is why it can hurt so much. We know the truth.
The opposite is true also. We know when we have worked hard. We know when we have done our best. We know when we truly deserve the applause.
There is no better feeling than self-fulfillment, knowing you have done your best. Even if your best effort didn’t win the race, there is a special feeling if you know you lost but did your personal best. There was nothing more that you could do. And when that is the case you always win.
You can win when you lose if you learn from the loss. You can win when you lose if you develop more fortitude to handle tough situations. You can win when you lose if you come back the next time and give even more because you learned from the past loss.
In my own life, there have been many times when I lost. There have been many times when I wasn’t the best. But I learned early in my life that I didn’t have to be defined by a loss. I didn’t have to be defined by what other people thought or said. I learned early that if you get knocked down seven times, you get up eight, you just keep getting up.
Somehow living a life of getting knocked down and coming back, taught me not to quit at the first sign of difficulty. It taught me to investigate, study, see what I could do differently next time. And most of my losses eventually turned into victories.
Now I say anything I am good at, I first failed. It happened with my wrestling, my speaking, my first marathon, my first book, and everything else I can think of. Losing is just another part of winning. For me it’s the first step.
So, there’s no moral obligation to keep on keeping on, to come back after a loss, or to attempt to be great. But I can tell you it sure feels better to eventually get that victory than to forever wallow around in the loss.
I don’t know where I would be if I let my losses stop me. I surely wouldn’t be where I am today. If I had any advice for the young it would be, make success a goal, make being great a possibility, make comebacks and constantly trying your mode of operation.
You won’t always win but you’ll be much happier when you live up to your full potential.