Saturday, January 23, 2010

Experience Life

Much is learned in spirit despite the best efforts of practical theory to be all-inclusive. Knowledge is great, but until you build a house (or make a movie, or run a company) you really don't know how to do it. I'm talking about experience and the wisdom that is only earned through experience. No one ever accomplishes anything great with low expectations, though high expectations and lofty goals often mean failure.

One immutable principle of life is that one cannot succeed without failure. It seems counter-intuitive, but it's true. Study the lives of successful people and you will inevitably stumble upon a mountain of previous failures. Of course, if one never studies successful people—or has no mentor or proper role model—that person would necessarily come to the conclusion that success is luck. I mean, it must be luck if we mere mortals are mired in struggles and failure—unable to move forward—while a select few rise to the top?

When you hear that an Olympic skier broke both her legs during a bad spill in training for the games, what do you think? She's finished? When you find out she is back on the same slopes as soon as she can walk again, what do you think? Idiot? Or do you think "Champion"? If you are anything like me, raised on laughing at videos of people hurting themselves, you probably think the former. I know I used to, and consequently I was terrified to stretch myself on the slopes.

The mass mantras of today have us sold on the idea that what we should be learning from mistakes is to fear them. Which, in the days of the Apollo program with billions of dollars on the line, used to be a vital response. But not any more. Today, with the internet, social networking, and any number of consumer electronics, a person can be a media mogul for a few hundred dollars. It only takes the willingness to fail until you find your niche.

So how about it, are you willing to give your spirit a stir? Live a little, put yourself and your weaknesses on display.

Sure beats the walking dead.

FEATURED MEDIA: "The Pursuit of Happyness" is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, whose failure as a salesman led to him raising his young son on the streets. Instead of giving up on his dream, Chris pursues a stockbroker internship by day, while sleeping in a homeless shelter at night. The film's director, Gabriele Muccino, is quoted as saying, "To understand the American Dream, you have to be a foreigner."

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