In the movie "Once Upon a Time in America," Robert De Niro’s character, Noodles, is a gangster who went back to his hometown. Looking at the pictures of his childhood girlfriend who has become a theater star, he laments, “I guess you can tell at the gates who’s going to become winners and who’s going to be losers.”
My personal belief is that we are not really supposed to race with others. It’s just us against ourselves. So, after we’ve decided for ourselves where we want to go, the questions to ask are: Do we have the will and the stamina to keep going? Can we run no matter how steep the slope, even with a crippled leg ?
Angela Lee Duckworth is a distinguished psychology professor and popular science author. In one of her TED talks, she revealed what she has learned from her teaching experience and several researches. Her team went to army camps, sales organizations, schools, intellectual competitions, among others. She concluded that IQ is not the main indicator of future success. “It wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health. And it wasn’t IQ. It was grit.”
She explained, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina…sticking with your future. Not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years and really working hard to make that future a reality.”
Duckworth also noted “there are many talented individuals who simply do not follow through on their commitments.” She added that “the ability to earn is not fixed. It can change with effort.”
John Assaraf is a brain researcher who has grown five multi-million dollar companies. He is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of NeuroGym. In a Goalcast YouTube video, he confessed that as a child, he used to steal money from the wallet of a trusting neighbor. John’s family had lots of financial problems because of his father’s gambling. He had very low self-esteem until he met a guy named Alan Brown, his first mentor. Brown taught him the difference between interest and commitment. He said if you’re interested in something, you do what is convenient. If you are committed to something, you will do whatever it takes.
After that lesson, Assaraf would “prime” his brain every morning as he brushed his teeth. He would “feel” in his mind how it it would feel when his goals and vision have been realized. He advised, “It’s only the people who are committed to achieving their goals that actually achieve them…it’s the people who are committed to actually do whatever it takes.”
The morning ritual is also recommended by Hal Elrod, one of America’s top success coaches. In the book "The Miracle Morning," he emphasized the importance of waking up early “with a purpose.” He said that resisting waking up reduces our chances of having a satisfying day. He prescribes meditation, affirmations, and visualization. He advises that we must mentally answer the questions, “What do I want? Why do I want it ? What am I committed to doing in order to get there?”
May I now confess that I have not yet fulfilled my childhood dream?
I had always wanted to write screenplays and direct movies or tv shows. But in my hometown, theater or communication courses were not offered in the late 70s. After graduation, I was sidetracked into a career in advertising. Presently, I am a creative executive in a large multi-media network but not in the program production department.
Maybe I was not committed enough to my dream because I diverted my path. Or maybe I was committed that’s why I worked in related fields. I don’t know but one thing is for sure, my current job allows me to learn more about the craft, to understand the audience better, and to get to know the right people. Four years from now, I will turn sixty and retire. I think that 60 is a good age to start chasing that dream again, whatever it takes.
Fortunately at 56, I have the energy (and the looks) of a man at 36.
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About the Author:
Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.