Yesterday I read an article about success. The topic was well known: the writer stated that, instead of following our passions, to reach success, we should fall in love with the process. Passion is cheap. True, I agree. Passion alone is never enough. A mindful and focused attitude is what’s needed. Problem is, that even if this brain- frame is fundamental, if it’s alone, in the long run, is not enough.
Let me explain. Falling in love with the process, whatever the process could be, is a kind of easy. Success (a career or whatever we want in the long term) is like a steep stair to climb. Falling in love with the process is like reaching the first floor. But by itself, it is not going to lead us up to the top. It is the stamina we need to break the sweat and keep going. Important? Yes, but not the only thing we need to fulfill whatever dream we have. Consistency is what we have to build right after. Not the kind of steadiness of going through the first 30 minutes on a running track. The one that gets you at the end of the race. The stubbornness of ignoring the pain, the decision of making fatigue your best friend. Consistency is hard to build. And it is even harder to keep. It is more or less like deciding to quit something (cigarette, alcohol, sugar or whatever). You can be consistent for one year, two or even more. Until the day you decide “I skip it this time”, but you already know, that it is never “just once”.
Reaching a goal is never easy. It takes time, hard work, patience, and stubbornness. And when I say time, I do not mean one or two months, but more often than not one or two decades. Perfection takes long hours working on a skill, improving strength and stamina as long as creativity and agility. Bolt did not win his first Olympic Medal after training a couple of months, the same thing for Muhammad Ali or whatever champion comes to your mind. Leonard Cohen practiced for years, until the day he died.
They all fall in love with the process and at the same time, they all decided to embrace the fatigue they were experiencing, that uncomfortable itch at the back of our head that hits us every time we start an activity requiring mental strength.
We could say consistency in the long term is accepting we will go through hard times, it is the opposite of following our passions actually: it is shutting our emotions out and reacting to whatever problems would come up only with logic and determination. To move forward along the path of success we have to welcome the downsides of the learning process and whatever loss, crisis, blues, frustration comes with them.
And we have to understand and accept that even if we do all that mentioned above, even if we embrace the pain of every effort we make, even if we keep going, there is still the possibility of not getting what we want. We could fail, and for reasons not connected to our performances at all.
To quote Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.