One of my favorite Thomas Edison quotes is: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” I can confirm that in four decades of working with leaders, the single biggest reason they fail is that they get distracted. They aren’t willing to wait for success to happen.
In one case, a client wasn’t willing to stick with our media plan long enough to get a response. In another, a pastor wasn’t willing to work unnoticed in the trenches long enough to get the experience necessary to have credibility. In another, a nonprofit leader wasn’t willing to take a long, honest look at her own gifts and talents. In another, a business leader wasn’t willing to do the groundwork to build his expertise and reputation.
Whatever the reason, they weren’t willing to stick with a plan long enough to see it work.
Perhaps my second favorite quote from Edison is: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Guess what? Those “10,000 ways that won’t work” involved decades of toil, frustration, insecurity, self-doubt, and most of all – criticism. But he didn’t give up. He pursued his dream, and his commitment literally changed the world.
It’s easy to get distracted. There are plenty of things to turn to when our original dream hits a wall, gets boring, or starts getting criticized.
The question is – how long are you willing to pursue your dream?