Photo by Brodie Vissers from Burst

Reflecting on Passion and Perseverance

Self-reflection is a vital activity for steering a good life. It helps us understand ourselves, control out attitude towards life, build resilience to adversities and make solid plans. There is also another important point to understand: there is no meaning on what we do in the future. Whether we work in a company, get married and have children or we build a business empire and control the world. The end is: we all will die and, most likely, never come back or remember anything of this life. So, what’s the point of living and hoping about future?

“Whoever has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

Nietzsche

In order to find meaning in life, we need to change our attitude. Meaning is not in the future, but in the present. We create the meaning of life in our minds. There is no meaning outside of us. Personally, for me the meaning is that if I have only a single chance to experience being human and living this wonderful experience, regardless if I remember it or not after death, I now know that it is marvelous and I have to live it until the end. Moreover, I do not want to just live, but I want to shape my life as well, as much as I can. Given that regardless of what I do for the future does not matter, I want to do whatever gives me the biggest satisfaction, namely my passion.

Most of us have a passion or a thing that we have a big interest for, but we always think we are not capable of doing it. Either, in our past, we never had a direct touch point or we were never trained for it. Therefore, it just is unattainable, thus we are doing whatever we are capable of. We choose to be a loser. We are afraid to say: ‘Screw it, I have a passion and I will get it, even if it means I may spend whole life working on it’. But it is the only meaningful thing to do. Instead of just waiting for our time to come while doing boring things, we should choose to go after what we love.

Alright, let’s say we are feeling very motivated now and we want to follow our passion. Where should we start? How will we get to it? How long will it take? I guess, the only question that matters among these three is the first one, but for the sake of not leaving us in doubt, let’s answer all three shortly. We are living in a fruitful era of the internet, let’s not forget that. If you search ‘How to start/do [activity]’, you will get an answer for basically any replacement of the word within square brackets. Once we have the basics, we should define the first tasks of our pursuit and start doing it, as early as possible. Once we start the journey, the path will form itself for us using the knowledge, experience and resilience we build through time. OK, now comes the most important threshold that decides if we go back to being a loser or we continue to be winner of our lives. Are we going to give up at one point? The journey is difficult, it is full of failures and we don’t know where or when it will end. To keep going on, we should have the perseverance as the engine of our life journey.

Some people are born with some innate talent (can be questioned), so they can easily master their fields. We all have a potential to become master of a field. However, talent does not play any role if you do not persistently improve yourself. Kaizen (改善) in japanese, refers to “continuous self-development”. It’s a process that happens in our mind and the objective is to unleash our potential through adopting the practice of self-reflection (hansei – 反省). With self-reflection, we should find our weaknesses (or the room-for-growth points) and push ourselves to the limits. This is perseverance and it entails effort, hard work, practice.

“Our vanity, our self-love, promotes the cult of genius. For if we think of genius as something magical, we are not obliged to compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking . . . To call someone ‘divine’ means: here there is no need to compete.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Perseverance is not an external idea. It is our mind skill to delay the gratification, self-criticise, self-regulate and train our emotional strength for the sake of a greater purpose – following our passion, the only meaningful thing to do within our life span. We will never be as good as we want. There is always going to be a small gap to fill, there is always going to be a possibility to trip over and fall. The only thing that motivates us is our passion. We never give up on dreaming and pushing the boundaries. We fall down seven times and stand up eight times. Our main power is to get up after falling down and every time we fall, we find another way of not doing things. It is called resilience. The more resilient we are, faster we get up, more powerful we become and better we deal with adversities.

I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways to make a lightbulb that won’t work.

Thomas Edison

We all have a vision in life that inspires us. Understanding that the passion of ours is what gives a meaning to our life, we should stick with it. It is not the finish line that gives the biggest satisfaction on this journey, but the journey itself. With all its adversities, opportunities, failures, successes, pains, pleasures, cries and smiles, life is meaningful and worth to live to the end. What are we waiting for?

This post is highly inspired by the highly recommended book – Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance – by Angela Duckworth.


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