You want to go to Florida from California by car, so you plan a trip across the country. You have always wanted to do this and you are at the point in your life where nothing else matters to you. In spite of being a little scared of the unknown, you are extremely confident and motivated. You have a map that gives you a pretty good idea of how to get there, money in your pocket for gas, and a cooler full of Mountain Dew (or some other form of stimulus to keep you awake for a long period of time). At this point it’s time for “full speed ahead”, within the legal limits of course. You pull out of the driveway and are now headed across the country. The radio is on, and you are totally excited because you know that at the end of the trip you will have arrived exactly where you want to be! Woo hoo!
Quick question: How will you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you have arrived in Florida? Think about it.
Answer: When you get there!
You will know you have arrived when the next sign you see says, “Welcome to Florida”. Prior to that, there will not be one moment during your trip that you assured of your arrival. In fact, at any time between California and Florida, you could make a conscious decision to not follow through. You could stop and go back to where you started. You could just quit driving and stay wherever you happen to be at the time. You could take an entirely different route and end up in an entirely different place. All of those are options available to you as you set out on this trek toward your desired destination.
Stopping where you are and not going any further will assure that you don’t arrive in Florida. You could be in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, or even in Alabama, only miles from the Florida border…and if you stop and don’t go any further, you’ll never get there!
It could be discouraging at many points along the way. The deserts of California and Arizona can be pretty unforgiving, you may feel like you’re driving through Texas for a week, and let’s face it, after about 25-30 hours of highway drive time, even the heartiest traveler is pretty exhausted. You may have a flat tire, overheat or run out of gas somewhere. You might stop for a meal that makes you sick, lose your wallet at a hotel or find there is no good music on the radio for hundreds of miles.
Since you have never tried this whole drive across the country thing before, you’re not so sure that the notion you have of just going back to where you came from isn’t the most appealing anyway. It’s certainly the safest thing to do. You can say you tried, and that’s worth something, right? You can always tell the story about how you almost got there, but taking a journey like that is just not your thing. You could say, “It can’t be done!” Even though hundreds, if not thousands of people before you have done it, and many will continue to do it long after you have retired the idea from your mind.
The trip across the country is a metaphor for your journey through self-improvement and your personal voyage to achieving your dreams, goals, and desires.
The part I want to focus on is the persistence you need to have in spite of the fact that it may seem like you’ll never get to where you want to go.
If you have decided that you wish to pursue a life with more passion and purpose, then you have made a wise and wonderful decision. You probably feel like you wish you had thought of this many years earlier. Fair enough, we all do. Much like the road map that you would buy as a traveler, you have likely invested in some good books or courses on CD that have helped your mindset and given you a clear set of steps to follow, leading to your best life. This is precisely what you are suppose to do! In fact, after you read my books, I have a long list of others that I will highly recommend to you (ha!). The money you have for gas in our story represents the thoughts and desires you have in your mind which will lead to inspired action (the gasoline) that fuels your journey. You begin at whatever stage you are currently in (we’ll call this California) and you set out to achieve your ultimate life goal (Florida).
Now here’s the truth of the story and the truth for you in your life…the only way you can be absolutely sure that you will get to your destination is to keep going! Having the will to stay the course is the only formula you really need to accomplish anything. Anyone who has ever achieved anything extraordinary did so as the result of enduring effort.
At any point along the way you can quit, and that of course will assure that you never get there.
You will see signs all along the way that should serve to encourage you that your trip is not in vain. ‘Welcome to New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment”, “Don’t Mess With Texas”, “Disney World 300 Miles” etc.
May I suggest to you that these road signs are the equivalent of what we consider failures in our life journey toward ultimate success. To me, they are a perfect example of failure. They clearly indicate that you are not where you want to be yet, and while they may give a glimmer of hope that someday you will be there, they are absolutely not what you want to see at that moment. At that moment, you want to be in Florida…and it doesn’t matter how wonderful the sign says your life will be when you get there, the bottom line is YOU’RE NOT THERE YET!
You see, failure is not the opposite of success. Quite the contrary, failure is a huge and important part of the formula for success. Not being in Florida for the entire trip is exactly where you are suppose to be. You’re only suppose to arrive at your destination in that precise moment that you actually get there. The key to success in life, just like a trip across the country is to KEEP GOING!
The road signs are indicators that you are on the right path. Just as failures on the road to success indicate that you are getting closer to your dream. If you can embrace failure as part of success, and learn from your setbacks, much like you calculate the driving distance on your trip based on the information you read on the signs, you will ultimately achieve your goal. If, however, you see failure as the opposite of succeeding, then failure becomes a deal breaker and will be the decisive deterrent to any further action. The dagger, if you will.
Quitting…giving up…stopping…surrender…inaction…these are the true opposites of success. And the reason is because they sit at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum in the only known place that assures you will never get where you want to go.
Let me say it this way, you could drive slow on your trip to Florida or you could drive fast. You could take your time and stay at three different hotels, or you could power straight through (yes, you’ll need the Mountain Dew). You can go the route that I have sort of outlined, or you could drive due north from California to Washington, across to North Dakota, and then make a mad diagonal rush for the Sunshine State. Any of those plans will get you there, provided that you don’t quit.
Refusing to take action is the only thing that will guarantee a non arrival. Again, it’s the opposite of success. You could be driving a semi truck or a VW Bug, have a state-of-the-art GPS system or even hire a full time personal navigator. It doesn’t matter. If you quit, you’re done. End of story.
I will write more about the thrill of the trip in my next post. For now, think of your life’s journey as an extremely important one, leading to your highest and best purpose. Learn from the mistakes and shortfalls, apply the knowledge that you gain and stay on course. Persistence is king. Nothing and no one can prevent you from reaching your destiny if you make the conscious decision to just keep going.
Whose up for a road trip?