The Story that Success Doesn’t Tell

My Co-op employer had Chris Hadfield, a renowned Canadian Astronaut, as a guest speaker today. He is quite an inspirational storyteller, both extremely interesting and positive.

He instilled a feeling of connectedness and community while passing along lessons from his experience. He answered many questions and his outlook for the future was filled with potential and excitement.

Col. Chris Hadfield. Photo from Wikipedia, creative commons license.

Over the next few hours, with lingering thoughts of the presentation still in mind as I kept processing everything I had heard, one question stood out.

My mind grappled with it and couldn’t get over it as it was so intrinsically integrated with everything that had been discussed.

Yes, Colonel Hadfield has accomplished many amazing things, but what things had he not done because of it? What sacrifices did he make and what other opportunities did he miss on his way to his accomplishments?

My bet is that he had to give up a lot to get where he is. Luckily, he has paved a path where he can look back and be happy that he made those hard decisions and sacrifices.

We often focus on the path to success and the path of what a person has said yes to, but when do we learn what a person has had to say no to (whether they wanted to or not) to end up where they are. Time, effort, and sacrifice are all common inputs for any professional athlete, successful person, or achievement in life.

I found that applying this lens of thinking to oneself results in a powerful reflective exercise. You consider: what you want to be in life, what do you have to work on or improve upon to get yourself ready for that, what is the time/effort, and are you prepared to make the sacrifices?

While many of us have a hard time committing ourselves to arduous tasks that provide no immediate gain, framing it as a needed stepping-stone to one’s future goals makes it easier to rationalize, process, and commit to.

Maybe it’s when you are doing school, work, an extracurricular, or whatever it is, and you are feeling drained and down – when you are about to procrastinate and give up, maybe that is the best time to reflect on where you want to be and consider what you are willing to sacrifice to get there.

If you aren’t willing, then maybe it isn’t worth your time, but if you are, it’s time to buckle down.

When you are looking to change the world or make an impact, how likely is it that you will be able to do it on 40 hours a week or less? Similarly, if you are putting in the time, and effort, is it helping you – and should you continue putting effort into this area if it isn’t helping you?

We have a finite amount of energy to put into our lives each day, so what does it take to sculpt yourself into the person that can meet your goals, dreams, and ambitions?

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1 Response

  1. Bob Balogh says:

    Riley,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. In a world where virtual and instant gratification seems to be reinforced through our use of technology and social media, it can be difficult at times to take a longer term perspective. It is so important to have long term goals/ aspirations and to use them to guide you through life’s decisions. Investing in oneself requires some sort of sacrifice or cost in the short term. When you can link that effort to moving forward towards your longer term goals, the cost tends to diminish.

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