In the movie Elf there is a scene in the beginning where Christmas Eve has just ended and Santa and his elves are celebrating their victory. In the midst of it Santa (while congratulating his workers) says something incredible, “after all that hard work it’s time to start preparations for next Christmas!”
Time to start on next Christmas? On Christmas Eve?! Not even one full day off! No week-long vacation? Just more work! How could Santa do that to his poor elves?
When Steven Pressfield (Author of “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and “The War of Art”) finished his first book he was ecstatic. Every morning he would walk over to his neighbor — Paul’s — house, share some breakfast, and talk about their various writing projects. Steven went straight to Paul’s that morning and told him the good news! But without even looking up from his newspaper Paul responded, “Good for you. Start the next one today.”
Start the next one today? How dare he! How could a writer blow off another writer’s accomplishment like that? This was the first book Steven had ever written! Could Paul have been any less caring?
I think Santa and Paul understand something about creativity and drive that you and I desperately need.
If you do something that matters, something that ignites your passion, then work never stops.
Persistence is the key to success. You must find a time and a place to work and you must be unwavering from that work at that time. You may achieve one or two small victories without persistence, but war is not won in a single battle.
Millionaires, loving families, artists; the best have one thing in common: they work tremendously hard to achieve their dreams and they persist in the face of adversity.
Why do some marriages end in a few years while others last a lifetime? Is one couple more in love than the other? Is it a matter of soul mates or lack thereof? Or is one couple willing to work harder than the other? The evidence (if you actually look at it) points overwhelmingly to hard work. If you believe that love alone will keep you together, and by love you mean those butterflies you get in your stomach — you are doomed to fail.
Similarly, if you believe the only time you can do art is when you feel like it, you will never make art. Art requires a persistent work ethic. This is true for artists, writers, and dancers as much as it is for accountants, HR directors, and CEOs.
Let’s look at another example. If you think making money is based on anything except hard work, take note that most American millionaires are the hardest working people in society. Not the smartest, not the luckiest, but those who are willing to show up, work until it is done, and come back tomorrow and do it again. The highest paid in our society are the ones who do the most work!
If you want your dreams to be your reality, you have to know that every accomplishment is an opportunity to work harder and get more done. There can be no retirement. You do the job, you do it well, and you keep moving forward.
This is life, and it is a good one.
What would you like to do but haven’t because life keeps getting in the way? Let me know in the comments.