“Thou shalt ever joy at eventide if thou spend the day fruitfully” (Thomas á Kempis).
MENTION “ACHIEVEMENT” AND MANY PEOPLE THINK ONLY OF “GREAT” ACCOMPLISHMENTS. But the greatness of a person’s achievement should not be measured by whether it makes the news. It consists of down-to-earth “fruitfulness,” as Thomas á Kempis suggests, and it should be a daily occurrence for all of us.
But if we’re going to engage in good, helpful deeds, intending to do them is not sufficient — we must actually do them. The word “achievement” implies that a goal has been reached. And so, in the words of a biblical proverb, “Let not the soldier who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off.” Henry Ward Beecher used a different metaphor to make the point: “It is not the going out of port, but the coming in, that determines the success of a voyage.”
No matter who we are or what our circumstances may be, there are achievements that lie within our abilities and opportunities. But to achieve what we’re capable of, we must do three difficult things.
Focus. Perhaps you wince, as I do, when you read this: “Give me a person who says, ‘This one thing I do, and not these fifty things I dabble in'” (Dwight Lyman Moody). To achieve, we must decide.
Accept risk. Playing it safe rarely results in worthy achievements, so we must desire to do more than hedge our bets and protect ourselves. Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
Deal rightly with objections. We should certainly listen to objections and weigh them conscientiously, but if every objector must be satisfied before we act, we’ll never accomplish anything excellent.
To achieve the work that is our mission in life, we’ll need to be powerfully motivated. And in the end, that must come from deep within us. To focus, accept risk, and deal rightly with objections, we must have an inward “Yes” burning big enough to keep us going. “Doing becomes the natural overflow of being when the pressure within is stronger than the pressure without” (Lois Lebar). I urge you to find your principles, your purpose, your passion — and get to work. It doesn’t matter whether you win awards. Just spend your days “fruitfully.”
“The world is divided into people who do things and people who get the credit; try to belong to the first class — there’s far less competition” (Dwight Whitney Morrow).