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“The wise man, knowing how to enjoy achieved results without having constantly to replace them with others, finds in them an attachment to life in the hour of difficulty” (Émile Durkheim).
IT’S GOOD NOT ONLY TO WORK TOWARD BETTER RESULTS IN THE FUTURE, BUT ALSO TO FIND HAPPINESS IN RESULTS THAT WE’VE ALREADY REACHED. We should certainly value the getting of actual results (as opposed to merely talking, for example), but we shouldn’t be so preoccupied with the future that we forget to relish the results that are already ours to enjoy. There’s much left to do, but after all, some things have been done and we should enjoy them.
In fact, there is a sense in which we should be willing for others to judge us on the basis of the results we’ve achieved up to now. The real evidence that demonstrates our character is not our “shoulda, woulda, couldas,” but our established, accomplished, and verified results. If we’re “selling” anything else, we’re just selling “vaporware.”
In the real world, it’s worth striving to be people who get results. Talk is cheap, as we’ve often been reminded, and so we must do more than talk about what needs to be done — we must do what needs to be done. I like the way the irrepressible Pat Croce put it. He said, “Neil Armstrong is not remembered for having circled the moon, although he did that; he’s remembered for having landed on the moon.”
It may be true that we get so few results today because we’ve been conditioned to be so impatient. Having come to expect quick fixes and thirty-minute solutions in the world of entertainment, we have a dangerous tendency to insist on instant results in everything we do. “[Television] has spread the habit of instant reaction and stimulated the hope of instant results” (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.). Yet few worthwhile things in this world come quickly or easily.
If we’re willing to work, however, we can work in faith — not faith in ourselves, but faith in what we know about the reliability of true-north principles. If (a) our principles are correct, and (b) we work with diligence, then the results are going to be worthwhile.
“It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true” (William James).