When you see a Ferrari drive by or a yacht sail past you, what do you think of the person who owns those things? Would you be inclined to believe that they were afforded opportunities that you weren't or that they possess qualities that you lack, thus allowing them to attain such status? I'd contend that each of us, whether rich or poor, intelligent or "average," have the same capacity for success and that it is ourselves that ultimately hinder us from reaching the goals that we create. Each one of us has to play the hand we were dealt as though it were the hand we wanted in order to pioneer a path to success.
Still, those more successful or wealthy seem to have something that we lack, something perceivably intrinsic to who they are as person. Attributes and skills such as social likability, a broad lexicon or vocabulary and knowledge or intelligence in a variety of different areas are the most potent examples. We personify them as being "gifted" or "unique" but fail to see how it is that we could ever reach the same heights. Yet these traits are not fixed, but variable, and are tirelessly developed over many years. Small, seemingly insignificant decisions that are made every day, compound on one another in a manner that is similar to how a financial investment portfolio benefits from compounding interest. Those minute positive decisions that bring the aspiring professional closer to their goals, builds on the previous positive decisions, which creates an increasingly significant and noticeable change with each subsequent addition. Therefore, when we look up at that person and observe how everything they do seemingly brings so much wealth or success, it appears as if they aren't putting in nearly the amount of effort that we are, yet are reaping far greater rewards for their toil. The difference between us and them isn't some intrinsic quality that makes them better than us, but is in how they chose to respond to those minute changes that brought them closer towards their desires versus how we choose to do the same.
Although the abilities may not be intrinsic to the individual, the desire is, and we will inevitably establish a standard which represents a degree of success that we wish to achieve; one of which that fulfills our desires. Once that desire is quantified through the formation of goals, we will recognize the calling on our life; the intrinsic desire that we had all along perfectly matches the calling. "I was made for this!" one could exclaim. At that point, there will come a moment where we are given a glimpse of the summit of the mountain that towers before us and are left with an opportunity to respond in one of two ways. Either we will say, "I have got to get to the top of that mountain because what I've been shown is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined," or we will say, "there's a mountain, I can't go." In order to reach the top, to achieve these seemingly impossible goals, you have to defend your life with your life and not allow your time, heart or energy to be consumed by things or people that only give comfort in the valley and are not going up the mountain with you. This is where the vast majority of people (as I observe it) fall behind and end up compromising on the vision that they once had.
Why, then, is it so easy to lose hope and get distracted, despite having every intention to accomplish what we set out to achieve? The secret, I believe, lies within us. Behind every aspiration, every goal that we strive towards, there is a sinister antithesis that lurks in the shadows. Lying in wait for us to lose hope and compromise in the pursuit of our calling, it steadily takes root while suffocating the vibrancy that once fueled our fervor for achievement. The further we get, the more opportunities for failure arise. This faceless, silent enemy that feeds on our fears and insecurities is the fear of failure itself. As we strive to transcend our weaknesses by avoiding failure through our accomplishments, we suppress that which is defeating us from within. Combined with the ensuing agony that so often accompanies failure, we are overrun as our despondence impels us to concede in the face of seemingly, impending defeat.
What we have to accept is that failure is the very thing that catapults us towards success. A person who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new nor learned that risk is the price of opportunity. Yet, if we become so focused on the final outcome that we don't enjoy the years in between and the people we meet along the way, then (if we even get there at all) we will arrive alone. Recognized for our success yet not for who we are, leaving us unfulfilled. So why not enjoy the process and share in it with others, every step of the way?
I, too, have goals and aspirations that I am striving towards. I attempt to make small, seemingly insignificant changes in the pursuit of those goals such that I am not looking towards an end goal but yet am living it out each and every day as I work to make it a reality. That is the true, historical meaning of Carpe Diem: to seize the day and prepare for the future. I'm spending my time focused on bringing what He has breathed into me to life and I intend on bringing as many people up with me as I can. Each of us have an opportunity to achieve greatness and can make a meaningful impact in the lives of those around us. To establish the ultimate goal as acquiring accolades, wealth or power is to exalt ourselves over others, rendering them as potential sacrifices on the altar of our achievements. What will it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul? All of the joy we are capable of experiencing from these things is limited and we will keep hitting the ceiling of that enjoyment. We will keep fixating on the next time or the next big thing until we acknowledge them as being insufficient to [ultimately] fulfill us lest we die chasing after the wind. Therefore, as you develop goals and pursue your calling, remember that your abilities are not marked by what you are but who you are. You define the degree of success that you're capable of by making it happen every day. Be who you're meant to be now, today. Embrace it and lead a life worthy of your calling. You and I have one shot, one chance to make a difference, so what are you waiting for?