2016 minus 36: effort and achievement

Posted: 26 November 2015 in 2016minus, don't talk to me about life, personal
Tags: ,

Every so often, someone will tweet a motivational poster, and they always irritate me. I’m in agreement with those who regard them as obnoxious at best, and just wrong the rest of the time. 

Having a better than decent memory for quotes, however, I’m always reticent about using one for the sake of it; I’m very aware of the warning

“Remember – he who has a quote for every occasion will be known far and wide as a smartarse…”

That caveat aired, however, I remember Dave Sim being quoted as saying

“If you really want to do something, no one can stop you. But if you don’t really want to do something, no one can help you.”

Now although I can’t do anything but agree with the second part of that, I think the first part is, to be blunt, bullshit. 

To take one example, as regular readers know, I’ve got a bad foot; I broke it almost more than a decade ago, had a fairly major op on it, then developed further problems. I’m never gonna be able to run a four minute mile; running at all is problematic. And I’m fairly high doses on painkillers (cocodamol 500/30s, if you’re curious, 6 to 8 of them daily.)

No one can stop you? Well, if you want to give up a cubicle career to devote yourself full time to writing or drawing before you’re good enough to actually earn money from it… Hmm, well, I suspect the bank, for one, might have a word or two to say about that.

Effort does not equal results, and no matter how hard someone tries at something, sorry, sometimes people aren’t cut out for what they want to do.

That doesn’t mean that they should stop trying; it just means they have to be realistic to have other funds coming in to support them while they work towards it, but Sim’s quote seems to imply that if someone tries hard enough or smart enough, then they’ll always succeed, and bugger the consequences of the journey. In fact it goes further, it implies that everyone can achieve anything if only they want it enough.

It reminds me of the old line that it’s not difficult to make a million dollars if all that you want is to make a million dollars. An equally facile statement.

The first part of Sim’s quote strikes me as hugely simplistic, to put it mildly.

I’m 51 years old; there’s any number of things I could accomplish in whatever time’s left to me on this planet. But there’s plenty of things – whether I want them or not – that are either genuinely out of my reach through no fault of my own (I’m never going to play football for England; I’m never going to be a prima ballerina; I’m never going to win Young Musician Of The Year) or that I don’t want enough.

But yeah, I get the basic idea; there are things that are theoretically possible: write a best selling and critically accclaimed novel, learn to expertly play a musical instrument, become widely admired, revered and worshipped. (OK, maybe not that last one; I think Warren has that gig sown up for the next couple of decades.)

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