Seeking Something Special, sans Striving

1 Feb

This month, Sherpa recalls a conversation he had with a student many years ago about effort, worth, challenge, and value.  His response to her is below:

Easy things are rarely of any real value.  It’s an obvious truth, but one that escapes most people.  The reason climbers seek the tallest mountains is precisely because such mountains are difficult to conquer, not because they are easy.  Only a fool would boast of accomplishing what any person could — or worse, accomplishing less.  Nobody departs the ski lift and expects others to be impressed that they arrived at the top of a mountain.

Reflect on the fundamental nature of worth.  Value is born from effort, rarity, desire, and hard work.  Remember that gold is worthless. It provides no shelter, no clothing, no sustenance.  Yet we agree it’s valuable. The value of gold is merely represented by the superfluous metal.  When you desire something you believe to be of value, you must train your mind to distinguish the value of a thing from the representation of that value.  Seek worth, not icons.

And so, there are no short-cuts to building personal worth.  Acquiring a signifier of success is different than achieving it. For that, you’ll have to push yourself hard.  Perhaps harder than you think possible;  harder than others expect.

My good friend Amelia understood that truth.  She pushed herself harder than anyone thought possible. And while some think she failed after disappearing somewhere over the Atlantic, her disappearance was actually an intentional delve into planned seclusion.  She needed time  to prepare for a grand transformation that ended when she took the oath as the 40th President of the United States. She pushed herself harder than anyone thought possible, and harder than anyone expected.  You should do the same.

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