I remember one day, when I was in fifth grade, a few of my friends asked me how I managed to do what I did. I asked what they meant, assuming they weren’t referring to the occasion where I had worn the exact same outfit two days in a row without anyone noticing.
What they meant was how I did things that I thought of as typical: handed in assignments on time, did well on tests, and didn’t seem to be overly stressed about it (looking back, though, I can’t see how fifth grade really stressed anyone out – just saying).
Curious, beady eyes staring at me, I found that I was unable to answer their questions. I didn’t know how to explain what I remember thinking of as “a ball of fire in my stomach”. I knew it as a feeling, something motivated me to be successful, but didn’t drive me crazy in the process.
For a while, I thought that I was just really driven, but then in business class, I learned about internal and external (or, as my teacher called them, intrinsic and extrinsic) motivators, and realized that I could apply few to myself in terms of striving to do well with my schoolwork.
I later learned that what I was feeling was called passion.I was passionate about learning, about doing well, and about putting in my best effort.
When I wore the same outfit twice in a row, it was because on the second day, I couldn’t think of anything to “top” the outfit I had worn the previous day, so I instead chose to repeat it. I was afraid of what at the time I thought of as “failure” – and so I made a decision that prevented me from moving forward, because I was scared of failing.
I think that to be passionate is to try to lose a fear of not achieving perfection. To be successful is to master that art. We can put ourselves on a course to greatness by, in moments where we face the option of failure, look it squarely in the eye and keep walking.
Birds can’t fly when they are born. They know they’ll fly eventually, but at first, they have to try. After they fail, they have to learn how to get up again. They are motivated to keep trying by the thought that after many failed attempts, they will be successful. And because success is reached in the end, these attempts can’t really be called failures – they were simply “trials of success”.
You are the only one who can make your wings take flight, and so you will if you first accept that in order to soar, you must first fall, and have the courage to get back up again. Even in failing, you will still sample success, and that makes the moment all the more better when you finally do fly.