On the ocean, there would be times when I rowed like a women possessed just to stay in the same place. And other days when the winds and currents whisked me along at such a satisfying speed that it was hardly worth bothering to row.
It used to drive me crazy that the results were so rarely proportionate to the effort, but then I realised that most of life is like that.
Have you ever slogged away at a task, wondering why it feels like rolling a rock up a mountain? Have you wondered if it is “meant to be”, because it seems you’re having to fight just too hard to make it happen? And yet you really believe it’s right?
And then, suddenly, everything flows. Everything you’ve worked for drops into your lap. You have a real red letter day. After years of work you become an overnight success.
And you realise, looking back, that all the slog was worthwhile. You had to pay your dues, persevere, keep on going when the going got tough. All the struggle, in hindsight, makes sense.
Sometimes we’re rowing against the current, and it feels like we’re getting nowhere, but even though we’re not covering the miles we’re getting physically and mentally stronger, bringing ourselves to peak condition so that when the opportunity arises, we’re ready to surge ahead.
Even when you look back through history, many of the most dramatic breakthroughs did not come out of the blue, but were the culmination of years – even decades – of effort. The falling of the Berlin Wall, the freeing of Nelson Mandela, the ending of slavery, the invention of the lightbulb, or the theory of relativity, or the theory of radioactivity, or any other significant historic event – all of these took sustained, long-term effort and unbelievable perseverance.
The point is to know that progress is not linear. Short-term success and short-term setbacks are often due to forces beyond our control. So don’t get too proud of the success, or too despondent about the setbacks.
Simply trust that patience, persistence, and perseverance will win out in the end.
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill
P.S. And sometimes you have to row sideways to get forwards.
P.P.S. And often courage looks like no more than showing up, day after day, and keeping on sticking your oars in the water.
Terribly sorry to hear about the loss of 21-year-old Michael Johnson, who was a member of an 8-person crew attempting to row the Atlantic. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and crewmates.