He grew in the midst of negligent men who woke each morning with one aim – source the next meal. The routine was a mandate, a mantra, and a manacle. There was no escaping. Every man had raced the tracks, and his would be no different.
A year flew. Two. A decade. He had an upset within, that which comes upon a human when he’s realized his utter failure. The awakening prompted a new path for him. He soaked himself in resources. He read books like his next breath hung there.
All interactions abandoned, he became a monk living each day with one aim – learn and grow, choose a better path. Finally, he reasoned, a profitable life was in view.
In books, lectures, teachings, and literatures, he stumbled, or more, unearthed his talent. The day was a bliss. He drenched himself in honing, fine-tuning, and developing. He had read that talent was not enough. Even the dull kid claimed some.
After all, it requires talent to shoot a three-pointer.
Social life drained, he sought ways to zoom. Again, his aid were in books. Read he did. Day in. day out. Some called him crazy. He was the neighborhood ‘Oliver Twist’. Each moment for him was an opportunity to develop. He would later remark, “I had to read. It was the only thing I knew. The only way to define myself.”
The day he had a shift in horizon started like no other. He woke at 0610 hrs rather than five am. The first fifty minutes were a waste. By eight, he hadn’t read a single line, neither had a single practice. The day was crumbling in bits. It wasn’t until 1830 hours that it struck: He had achieved nothing.
Or had he?
True, he helped a family with chores. He played with the somber neighbor for half an hour. He practiced sports (he had hinted an interest in Ping-Pong), met with colleagues for a discussion, prepared dinner, laughed at video skits online. But it had been a waste. He did not hone his talent, nor read a book on talent-developing, business ideas, leadership.
A failed day!
The chain which shackled him in the short story has many in its claws. I chose not to give him a name, because in those situations, your name don’ count. What you achieve does.
It’s easy to bind each day to a goal. Often, we say, “today I’d make twenty sales, or compose two pieces, or cover two topics in Chemistry.” The left hours are devoted to that aim, and a derail in meeting it is declined as a failure.
I’ve had a little experience with this. It gets easier when there’s a project, deadline, a test, some measure of diligence and talent. We think, “I should have got a 95%. I only made 83. My day was bad.”
Falling into the ‘goal’ pit is easier than not having a goal.
And the downside of being defined by achievements is the gutless feeling it leaves you with, the type that serenades a pilferer when he’s surrounded by seven squad cars.
There are upsides also. Accuracy in skill presentation, a broad knowledge in chosen field, opportunities to dive into river of competitions. But when its becoming a drudgery, when all that determines your life is that which you achieved, it’s time for a breather.
Because you don’t want to end up like him.
His end: A year after he realized his utter failure, he hadn’t amended. He proposed a work in which so much had been invested. The work was rejected eight times. Frustrated, he drove to a graveyard and there die. Months later, the work was dusted, and not only accepted, but it clinched an acclaimed prize.
What would you do? Discard all for the sake of your talent? Or strike a balance between two?