We worry so much about success. The handshakes. The backslaps. The warm smiles and applause. We like those things. They are the measure. They are drugs. They are addictive. The represent success, or do they really?
There is risk in trying things that are nearly impossible. How often do we see others appreciate the effort of a person who takes on something most say is against insurmountable odds?
Like Atticus Finch, the main character in Harper Lee’s renowned novel, To Kill A Mockingbird who agreed to defend the doomed Tom Robinson, the are some people who are seemingly put on earth to do the things most others won’t do but that need to be done. Shouldn’t we want to be Atticus Finch rather than a person who takes on only those things that have a really good chance of success, resulting in those handshakes, backslaps, warm smiles, and applause.
You see, even in a failed effort, the principle pursued will be strengthened by the fight and the attempt itself.
And who do we trust more? The person who always prevails? Or do we actually have more trust in the person who will see a nearly impossible battle to the end?
Being universally loved and admired isn’t easy because you have to make sure your next pursuit has a high probability of success and is also pleasing to a large population of admirers. Plus, always picking tasks that are nearly guaranteed to have a great result creates an incubator for a growing fear of failure which is the most effective barrier to greatness. Being committed to our best effort in the face of adversity or failure is easier on the soul, though harder on our short term psyche. The key is deciding for yourself which is more important: a comfortable soul or a more comfortable next few days.
I hope you have a chance to feel like Atticus Finch this week.