Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Skill vs. determination

George Washington has always been somebody I admire. As I read 1776, my admiration for him grew - not because he became a sort of superhuman, legendary figure. Precisely the opposite. 1776 helped me to discover the real Washington - his flaws, his talents, his luck. Seeing Washington as a real, comprehensible person inspired me to work harder for things I am passionate about. I often feel as though my personal actions are futile, or that because I'm just one person, my miniscule acts pale in the grand realm of collective action. Washington's life, however, helps me to realize what great things one person - one dedicated, determined person - can accomplish. Hard work and single-mindedness often even compensate for lack of skill or talent.
"[Washington] was not a brilliant strategist or tactician, not a gifted orator, not an intellectual. At several crucial moments he had shown marked indecisiveness. He had made serious mistakes in judgment. But experience had been his great teacher from boyhood, and in this his greatest test, he learned steadily from experience. Above all, Washington never forgot what was at stake and he never gave up.
"Again and again, in letters to Congress and to his officers, and in his general orders, he had called for perseverance - for 'perseverance and spirit,' for 'patience and perseverance,' for 'unremitting courage and perseverance.' Without Washington's leadership and unrelenting perseverance, the revolution almost certainly would have failed."

Perseverance, determination, in the most hopeless of circumstances. An indomitable spirit, a refusal to give up. These are the attributes that truly make things happen.


Brian and chelsea said...

Beautiful. Ever thought about becoming a motivational speaker?
I will keep this in mind at 4am when I have to wake up to feed my baby. Perseverance. No nervous breakdowns. Yes!

mel said...

Yeah for finishing your book :) It's on my list now that the HP is done!

Jecca Lee Ivie Johnson said...

My father-in-law let me borrow that book last year but I didn't have any time to read it. But you have inspired me to read it. So thank you.

Mark E said...

I liked this post. Sometimes I wonder if the genius is really just a myth. I've met rocket scientists, neuroscientists, and all kind of ists, but none of them struck me as innately genius, just hard working.