Menanteau Serfontein – 25 February 2021
“Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody’s looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood.” – Charles Swindoll
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, `I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Rooseveldt
The principles covered in this article may well be regarded by many as “extreme” and perhaps it is. It is acknowledged that we are all different and it is not the intention to give the impression that everyone is expected to adhere to and live by the standards to the extent described below. It is merely an attempt to describe the realities of what it normally takes to achieve bold, ambitious and difficult goals in life.
Below are the Definitions of the terms that will be used in this article:
- Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery. Strength in the face of pain or grief
- Commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc
- Willpower is control exerted to do something or to restrain impulses
- Determination is the quality of being determined; firmness of purpose (resolute)
- Endurance is the ability to endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving up
- Perseverance is persistence (tenacity) in continuing doing something, despite difficulties, failure, opposition or delays in achieving success
- Follow-through is the continuing of an action or task to its conclusion
Everyone has a choice. Some people are much more achievement/goal orientated than others. To many people, a pre-occupation with achievement and competitiveness is not regarded as a virtue and they may put a much heavier weighting on things such as relationships, social acceptance, popularity and friendship. There is no “right or wrong” or “good or bad” here. We are all wired differently and motivated by different things. We have to understand ourselves, what is important to us and what “makes us tick”.
Ideally, everyone should have an appropriate degree of courage, commitment, willpower (similar to “Self-control” which was dealt with in a previous article on the Website), determination, endurance, perseverance and follow-through. Each one of us has to decide what is truly important to us and to what extent these qualities should be applied in our journey through life.
Some people are of the view that natural talent and aptitude are enough to achieve meaningful goals and success in a given field. The reality is that there are numerous examples of people with great talent who just don’t “make it” for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of interest, lack of desire and different priorities (based on their worldview and what they regard as most important to them). Some also have a misperception that success can be achieved with minimum effort (which sometimes might work up to a point), laziness and a value system that does not regard courage, willpower, perseverance, etc as desirable virtues. Brian Tracy says “Willpower is essential to the accomplishment of anything worthwhile.”
The reality is that we have all seen people with the greatest inherent talent, ability, and aptitude who did not even come close to achieving what others, with only a fraction of their natural ability, have succeeded in reaching. In this regard, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”says
The ones who share “Could I do this if my life depended on it?”. Invariably, the answer would be “yes” and instead of giving up, they would continue to persevere and endure with grit and determination. Such people realise that “finishing the race” is often just as important and satisfying as winning, because in the first place their struggle is against themselves. Sir Edmund Hillary said “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”typically set clear goals, make commitments and are prepared to make significant sacrifices to achieve their goals. They invariably endure substantial discomfort and have to overcome fear, doubt and obstacles. They tolerate suffering with a heavy dose of willpower, endurance, backbone, perseverance, singlemindedness and sustained effort, always with the end goal in mind. They are the ones who tend to live by slogans such as “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, “10% inspiration and 90% perspiration”, “where there’s a will, there’s a way” and “winners never quit, quitters never win”. When most people are ready to throw in the towel and give up, they ask themselves:
People with the type of mind-set outlined above also stumble and fail from time to time, but their success rate would almost always be superior to those who don’t possess these qualities. When they they do stumble, fall or fail, they don’t give up – they get up, dust themselves off and try again with the same commitment and willpower. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.
Theodore Rooseveldt said “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Some people are inherently more inclined than others to embrace these types of qualities. The good news is that it is indeed possible for anyone who wants to, to develop these qualities by changing your way of thinking and acquiring it through habit forming. The first step in getting into the habit of applying these principles consistently, is to know what the principles are and understand what each principle means in practice. The next step is to believe in the necessity of the principles to ensure success. The final step is disciplined implementation on a sustained basis.
Willpower is like a muscle: The more you train it, the stronger it gets. If you are serious about achieving success, you will realise that there is no other way – there are no shortcuts.
It’s not easy, but it’s possible and you can do it! Try it!
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
(Many of the principles dealt with here, overlap with the principles that were discussed in the Article entitled “Sacrifice Today for Something Better Tomorrow – Delayed Gratification”. You are encouraged to read this Article as well.)
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