When you’re running, there’s a little person that talks to you, and that little person says ‘I’m tired, my lungs are going to pop, I’m so hurt, I’m so tired. ¬†There’s no way I could possibly continue!’ and you want to quit. ¬†If you learn how to defeat that person while you’re running, you will learn how to not quit when things get hard in your life.
– Will Smith
Will Smith is kind of one of my heroes when it comes to the philosophy of life. ¬†He believes that whatever it is you devote yourself to, it should benefit not only yourself but other people– it should make people’s lives better. ¬†He believes that anybody can be great, and that the key to greatness is not talent, but skill. ¬†And he also believes that skill can be developed by anybody, regardless of talent, so long as they practice at whatever it is they do, day after day, and they never give up.
I truly believe that. ¬†Anybody can be great. ¬†Anybody can be successful, and it’s not the natural born heroes who become famous, rich or extremely successful. ¬†They’re regular people just like you and me who decided that they wanted to be great at something, and they never quit in pursuit of that.
In his acceptance speech at the 2005 kid’s choice awards, Mr. Smith said the quote that I quoted above, and when I heard it, it struck home. ¬†Everyone is familiar with that little man (or little woman) who tells us we’re getting tired and that it’s time to give up. ¬†You don’t have to run to be familiar with that. ¬†In fact, I even talk about this little guy in my post about increasing your attention span. ¬†Every time you continue doing what you’re doing and ignore that overwhelming urge you get to get up and do something else, you defy that little man and he begins to learn his place.
It’s important that he does, because that little man is the gatekeeper out of mediocrity. ¬†When things start to get really hard, or you get tired of doing them, he pipes up and tells you, urges¬†you that you must stop, lest you experience extreme discomfort and displeasure. ¬†When you push past that urge, and you devote yourself to your craft you begin to transcend the work-ethic and the hole that a lot of people find themselves in.
More importantly, you realize that nothing catastrophic happens when you ignore that voice. ¬†The discomfort you experience when you continue doing what you’re doing can be intense for a brief period of time, but then suddenly, as if it never existed in the first place, it disappears. ¬†All of a sudden you’re ahead of where you’ve been stuck for ages, constantly practicing and improving because you have the advantage of never giving up, despite failure and despite displeasure.
How do you do you ignore a voice that’s so compelling, though? ¬†Practice. ¬†You can ignore it for five minutes at a time at first, just pushing past that initial point until that point starts to come later and later. ¬†Eventually you become more compelled to complete whatever it is you’re working at than to heed the urge to stop. ¬†Persistence is really the only defining trait of those who live their dreams and those who don’t. ¬†Some people quit early, listening to their peers advice that they should “be realistic.” ¬†It’s the people who aren’t ‘realistic’ who succeed– who win– who become great. ¬†Reality is subjective, and what is realistic for you is up to you.
Once you defeat that internal voice, you simultaneously defeat the voice of everyone else who tells you to quit. ¬†You begin to rely on yourself for inspiration and motivation as opposed to external stimulus. ¬†That’s the most incredible tool you can ever wield: ¬†Imagine a house that powers itself, never needing gas, electricity, water, air conditioning– even the fridge refills automatically. ¬†What would someone pay for a house like that? ¬†There would be no reliance on any other companies for your complete survival, your house would do it all by itself. ¬†It would be completely self-sufficient, regardless of the economy, the gas prices or the hydro companies.
When you become that self-sufficient house that never needs maintenance or repairs from outside sources, anything you want to do is within your reach. ¬†As long as you’re patient and persistent, it will come.