Saturday, May 16, 2015

On Perseverance - Letter to my Boxers

Dear Boxers,

I haven't written to you in awhile. I don't even know where some of you are; it's like you've been scattered throughout the San Gabriel Valley. I know you're somewhere out there. I thought for awhile on what I should write about, and I thought perseverance would be a good one.

What the world tells you and what I'm going to tell you are in conflict with each other. Look at any advertisement. Here, let me pitch an advertisement for you that you might like. It starts by saying: "Buy my service. It'll cost you one month's worth of salary but bring you a lifetime's worth of pleasure. Look at what you get."

A new car, a new house, a new girlfriend (boyfriend if you're a girl), and a great vacation every year!

Are you excited yet to hear the secret service to purchase? Let me tell you - I just told you a lie. There is no easy way to get all this stuff, but advertisers, marketers, and business people tell you these type of stories all the time to scam you out of money.

Really - if you bought into the little marketing scam I just pitched, there are two problems going on. I'm only going to discuss one today. And that is you either believe that money comes easy or you believe that even if you work hard, you're not going to get what you want. (The second problem is that you think that these things will make you a better or more desirable person. The solution to that is gratefulness, but we're not going to talk about that today.)

Being successful, whatever your definition of that is, whether it's having a lot of money or making a name for yourself or becoming famous is hard work. And if I pitched this to you instead: "You know, to really make a lot of money, it's going to take a lot of time, it's going to take a lot of hard work, and even if you do all these things you probably won't make it," no one would listen to me. That probably has to be the worst marketing pitch ever, but you know: it's the truth.

So, why try? Why work hard and persevere, if the chances are that it might not work?

Because, as Winston Churchill (the most powerful wartime British Prime Minister) and Margaret Thatcher (the most powerful peacetime Prime Minister) both said, you have to work really hard to get to the top. And even if you don't make it, you'll get pretty close.

But even though they're saying that you need to work hard to achieve what you want, that's kind of not really the best reason. The best reason is that you have the capacity to do something amazing that no one else can do. That's not just a marketing pitch.

Maybe you could be the best inventor, designer, singer, or dancer. You can contribute something virtuous to the world, but without persevering through it all: one, you'll never know what that is, and two, if you don't know, you'll most certainly never achieve what you're really able to do.

What's the first step to this? I've been skimming pop psychology these days, and most of it is garbage. None of it is telling you what I'm about to tell you now.

In your head, there's probably two voices in there. One is telling you how stupid you are and what a failure you are. The other one is saying to you, that's not true and you need to try.

Do this: just commit to trying, give it a go, and then after you really gave it your blood, sweat, and tears, look back at what you've done. I bet you accomplished more than you thought you could, and take a note that the first voice was wrong.

I end with some words of Scripture. "The farmer who has done the hard work should have the first share of the harvest."

In our day and age, all our food is in the supermarket. But believe it or not, there was a time that people grew their own food or traded for it. My father was a farmer - once upon a time. And the thing I learned most about farming, that I wasn't used to, is that it takes time to grow food. (I also have chickens now, and my mother has to let them out every morning and cage them every evening for our eggs.) There's a season to it all, a season to plow the field, a season to sow the seeds, a season to water and wait, and a season to reap. All these periods of time also takes work.

It's taken me awhile to, to understand to be patient for harvest. But work hard and be patient. The truth is that you'll be further ahead than if you didn't. That's it for now.

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