Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sweat a Little, Sweat a Lot

"Genius," said Thomas Edison, "is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." Like every other human being, little Tommy was born with a unique set of talents and intellectual strengths. His discovery of electricity was the result of a lifetime of gathering scientific knowledge and skills, as well as the drive to achieve and a resolve to never give up. Every person possesses the ability to contribute to society; the challenge is to remain positive at each step as we work to achieve our goals.

The Talmud tells us that all beginnings are difficult. Most people have experienced the anxiety before making a phone call to a possible future employer or the mental block which prevents the first sentence of a term paper from coming out coherent. But as the saying goes, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." It sometimes takes a lot of effort to force ourselves to call and set up a job interview or just start writing even if the topic sentence isn't perfect. But that first step is the key. We are all familiar with the guy who stands at the edge of the pool and sticks his toes in every few minutes; his toe-dipping technique is just a way of procrastinating. By the time he builds up the guts to go in, the lifeguard is blowing his whistle to signify closing time. He waited too long and lost his chance. Though it may feel uncomfortable at first, the only way to ever feel the thrill of accomplishment is to take the plunge and jump in!

The real perspiration comes after the fear of rejection has been overcome. The barrier has now been broken, and the first steps have been taken. Now is the time to crack down, to avoid distractions, and to really work. The energy at this point is unusually high. Teenagers who have spent hours brainstorming for a graduation trip fundraiser will suddenly storm into the kitchen and enthusiastically being mixing and measuring for their bake sale. A researcher may stay in the lab after his workday is through when he thinks he is on the verge of a new discovery. When the thrill of trying to meet a challenge is in the air, almost anything can be achieved. It is important to allow that excitement to flow and to work until your body can no longer hold itself up and it's time to bring the night to an end.

The road to success often features potholes. A journalist may experience writer's block, an aspiring chef may burn the entree, or a teacher may mark a test and find out that her students have not learned the material. But if they lose hope, if they become discouraged and throw their hands up in despair, have any of them accomplished their goal? It takes patience and perseverance to achieve success. Nobody ever said that life is a smooth ride. But when you fall, just get right back on your horse and keep riding.

Anyone who has seen the face of a Down Syndrome child as she crosses the finish line at the Special Olympics knows the joy of accomplishing a goal. It is impossible to describe the feeling of success, but every person can experience that if he puts in the effort. So, what are we waiting for? Let us get out there and change the world!