Not too long ago, the very talented graphic artist, The Oatmeal, produce a comic discussing the reasons he runs. In his brilliant, somewhat offensive, style, he explained something that I think is somewhat of the core of what motivates most people to do anything. He named this beast The Blerch. It’s an ugly monster although, of course, for whatever reason, tends to appeal to the items we feel we want most in life. . . which is complete and utter laziness.
This comic struck a chord with me. Often I find myself running at full speed in an attempt to remove myself from a similar monster. I don’t really have cute name for it, or an equally adorable visual representation of it. . . I merely call it failure.
Growing up as a middle-class white boy, it really wasn’t that difficult for me to find “success”. I’ve had so many opportunities handed to me. School was easy enough for me to do very little and still be near the head of the class for the majority of it. I got into computers early in life, so it was always simple for me to find a job where I could be considered somewhat irreplaceable (although, they would really just have a to pay someone a little bit more and get someone much more qualified). Although there were several girls I was interested in as a younger man who had no real romantic interest in me, both of the real relationships of my life (the long-lived high school relationship and my much-healthier current relationship with my wife) were things that I honestly stumbled into. In fact, neither of them would have happened, or continued, if it weren’t for the strength of will on the parts of the women involved in those relationships. The reason for that, of course, comes back down to the purpose of this post in the first place.
When I got older and the decision for things like college came around, I truthfully found myself in the first situation where I really had to make a true decision about my life. I chose the option that appeared (to me at the time anyways) to have the easier chance of success. It didn’t. . . for the record.
That’s how life continued for quite some time, however. I’ve continually found myself looking for the easy way out, the way that I was certain to succeed. The idea of actually failing at something that I actually had to try at was, quite simply, frightening.
These decisions to find the easiest way to coast through life did finally come back to bite me in the hindquarters at one point, about ten years ago when I found myself suddenly single, jobless, and homeless (although, I should note, I never suffered from the lack of a roof over my head, excluding one night of sleeping in a car. . . which wasn’t even my own).
In other words, I suddenly found myself in a position where I had to actually make some decisions, and fast. I took the first job I could find, being that I was in desperate need of an influx of cash. I followed that up by moving into the first apartment I called. And, of course, being afraid of being single, attempted to gain the attention of as many females as I could, in the effort to quickly find a replacement to the visible hole in my easy life. I found myself in a situation where I had failed on everything all at once, and my method of rectifying the situation was to find the easiest way to get back on the fast track to coasting. I paid for it on all fronts very quickly. . .
However, after those three months of just trying to latch onto whatever simple answer I could find, things did begin to settle somewhat. I managed to find a job that paid more decently (even if it meant that I would be working overnights (which actually ended up being a blessing in some regards that I’m not going to discuss today)), I actually ended up staying in the same apartment for a while, but upgraded the roommate situation (mostly), and, magically, I met the woman who would end up becoming my wife.
For the first time in my life, I actually found myself beginning the struggle to move away from failure, attempting to become more financially stable, be able to actually afford the place I lived in, and find a mate that truly understood me.
Things did not easily fall together, however. They took years to get to a point where I could actually consider myself reasonably successful. And they took a great deal of work to get there.
Yet, there was still a coasting mechanism in place. I would go with the flow, shying away from activities that seemed immediately doomed to failure, sticking to the ones that would ensure easy success.
Now, some of this (for those of you who know the history) may appear out of chronological order. It is. You see, I made some moves soon after the complete shut down failure that occurred ten years ago, to actually do something that were almost guaranteed failure. They did fail. We’ve talked about that on here before. Because of those few things, I would find myself clinging even harder to the easy successes, ready to throw in the towel on succeeding on anything I actually cared about in order to hide from the pain that is failure.
All of that finally changed about four years ago. With the impending birth of my daughter, I finally found myself in a situation where coasting simply wasn’t enough. I needed to succeed fully as a parent, and, I wanted to succeed fully as a person in order to be a good role model for my daughter. This was the moment I began running (figuratively, of course, as the actual act of running and me parted ways long ago).
Since it’s the most visible example of this, I’ll continue this discussion by talking about my book, THE LEGEND OF BUDDY HERO. You see, it took a great deal of work for me to actually start writing this first novel. I had written many things in the part, screen plays, short stories, songs, and a whole bunch of other random things, but starting my novel seemed different. It was different. It was the item I intended to actually pour my heart into and allow success or failure to come purely based on my hard work, instead of based on the lucky status I was born into. I sat in front of that computer for weeks, I scribbled on notepads for days, I threw away and deleted pages and pages of information, all before I even wrote the first page of the book.
I was scared, but I was determined to succeed in my task. This task took me four years, four years!, to get to a point where I actually believed I had done my best and created something I could be proud of. Within those four years were a great deal of smaller failures, moments which ultimately ended with me realizing that I was attempting to take the easy way out once again. Four years just to prove to myself that I could actually work hard on something and be proud of what came out the other end on a personal level.
And I am. I actually consider THE LEGEND OF BUDDY HERO to be a complete success. Sure, I haven’t made any money off of it (I received a check for $12.05 from Amazon last week, but, well, I’ve spent more than that on proofs and cover design and a whole host of other things). It was never about the money. That’s what it took me so long to understand.
For the last four years, and continuing on yet today, I would wake up every morning telling myself I was going to win. This win wasn’t that I was going to get first place, or that I was going to be given a billion dollars, or whatever. This win that I expect of myself daily is that when the day is done, I had better be able to consider that day a success. It doesn’t happen every day. There’s still probably more days of failure and success. But I still continue the fight. It started out as somewhat of a joke, but became my mantra.
Every day is a battle to play my hardest and come out as a winner. I simply must succeed. As a husband, father, office drone, author, and whatever else, I simply must strive daily to be the best I can be. That’s what success is. Failure is simply falling short of doing your best. Failure is not an option. I refuse to look back at my life and feel that I could have done more. I look forward in my life and see what more I can do, and I intend to do it. Each and every day moving further and further forward to reaching the best possible version of myself. I will do it. I will win. I must.
That’s my mantra. That’s what drives me. I will not fail.
Have a good one,