You can make a success of any choice but it requires complete commitment to that choice and pursuing it with love, passion and determination says Akram Miknas.
Auniversity professor once told me that life is a series of intersections, any of which we can decide to take. However, the majority of people never take these decisions in the first place. They continue going round and round on the roundabout of everyday life, not knowing which course to follow with their lives – and perhaps not giving it too much thought.
I’m sometimes asked what I believe it takes to make a success of one’s life. There is one thing I can honestly say that the people who I admire most have in common. Those people who make a success of their lives are the ones who take a decision about the course they want to follow – and pursue it relentlessly, whatever the obstacles and opposition.
We often find ourselves caught between two or more choices: “Do I pursue an arts, or a sciences degree?” “Do I stay in my home country, or pursue better opportunities abroad?” “Should I give greater priority to my career, or to my personal life?”
These are all life-changing decisions – but allow me to propose that it is less important which of these choices you make. What really matters is the tenacity and resilience to embrace the choice you make and pursue it with total determination and dedication.
We cannot simultaneously choose to walk two paths, yet many people make a half-hearted effort to do so; walking one path, while wishing that they were elsewhere.
However, there is no better way of wasting your life than by telling yourself: “I could have been a success, if only I made the right choice of university or career… or if I had waited a few more years before getting married and having children…”
You can make a success of any choice you take, but it requires committing to that choice and pursuing it with love, passion and total determination.
A friend once asked me how to make a difficult decision and I flippantly told them: “Throw a dice.” I was only half joking. The ability to make a success of your choices is less about the actual choices you make, and more how you embrace the decision you take and follow it through to the finish.
In practice, the ability to make effective decisions is based on a clear idea, in advance, about what we want out of life. As a result, when we reach a crossroads, the decision of which path to take is effectively chosen in advance – we take the shortest and most direct route to the destination we have set our hearts on.
Whatever decision we make, we end up facing apparently insurmountable obstacles. Often our attempts end up in failure. At this point, a large proportion of people tell themselves what they learned from this failure was that they made the wrong decision; they took up a challenge that was too difficult – or, they were simply unlucky.
Yet, a small proportion of people stand up after facing failure and defeat, dust themselves off, put themselves back together – and keep on moving forward.
I identify this strength of character; this stubbornness in the face of apparently insurmountable obstacles as being that elusive quality of “genius” which marks out a tiny percentage of people
I refuse to believe that there are some of us who are born with genes which make them great. I have yet to meet someone who earned the title of being a “natural genius”. Most exceptional sportspeople, scientists, philosophers and political figures got where they are through an extraordinary amount of effort.
For the real heroes in our world, achievement is never easy and success is the result of thousands of hours of thankless training and mental efforts; enduring pain, setbacks and frustration.
Albert Einstein is the stereotypical genius of the last century. Yet he said of his own abilities “It’s not that I’m smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
I believe there is a big difference between being good and being great. A good violinist is somebody who has studied the violin for many years, has followed the instructions of their teachers carefully and has carefully studied the techniques of other violinists, in order to master their instrument according to the standards of the day.
The great violinist is someone who tears up the rulebook, goes against all established techniques and spends years relentlessly and obsessively pursuing their own path – and in the process creates something extraordinary that the world has never heard before.
True greatness means totally redefining the rulebook and forging an entirely new path that the rest of the world can only hope to follow.
Not everybody can aspire to greatness or the mantle of genius. But the lesson we can take away is the value of single-minded consistency in pursuing the path which you have chosen to follow; and refusal to give up when the path ahead seems difficult or impossible.
I am not claiming that everybody who pursues their goal with total determination will succeed. Rather, I would turn that assertion on its head and say that the true strength of character required to achieve greatness is the resilience to pursue your goals without any guarantee of success, or any foreknowledge of your own capacity to realize your aspirations: Greatness is the strength of character to stare defeat in the face and keep on smiling.