There is No Shortcut to Greatness

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God how you learn.” – C.S. Lewis.

Older practitioners often have a calm, self-assured air. One can only wonder, how did they get there?

The answer is simple: by making mistakes, screwing up, losing sleep. And later realizing that making a mistake is not the end of the world. Or, worse yet, the end of one’s career.

So one gets good by doing things badly, at least initially. By failing.

Perhaps the failure is not a public humiliation, but it is instead a disapproving look by a superior. Sometimes those hurt worse because, like it or not, the superior takes on a parental role and to disappoint cuts deep. Of course, the worse the experience, the less likely you are to forget the lesson.

If you know a supremely self-confident young person, odds are that person is naive or delusional. Perhaps they have never failed, and I suppose if one is young enough it is possible that failure has never been an issue. Especially in today’s coddling society where everyone get a participant trophy and at least a B for the semester.

So we are faced with the truth of the human condition. One can’t achieve greatness without making mistakes, without taking chances, without getting dirty, without fighting the good fight.

In the end, no one cares if you have the best documented and neatest files. People want to know what you stand for, how much you care, and what you are made of. People want to know that you have a unique voice, an opinion that matters. Because only then do you really matter.

There will always be the haters (h8ers, if you prefer). The critics. The naysayers. Unfortunately, you may be related to them. But don’t be too hard on them, it is a survival instinct that has probably served them well: Don’t stand out from the herd. That’s the one the lions spot first.

So you might have to tangle with lions. But only by taking on the lions do you understand that they are not as powerful in reality as they were in your imagination.

And then you become the real lion.

– Bob Gagliano

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