On Never Giving Up

Keep Going Sign

Do what the sign says!

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.

8 Responses to “On Never Giving Up”

  1. stellà January 20, 2011 at 9:23 AM #

    Wow alex! You weren’t lying. You delivered! I agree 100%. To answer your question I would love to travel. (Insert here) a long sting of excuses on why I haven’t. Can’t wait to see your next post.

    • Alex January 20, 2011 at 10:37 AM #

      Thanks Stella!

      oh man, do I ever want to travel as well! Where would you like to go?

      Person­ally I want to check out Europe (specif­i­cally the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, and Spain) and several spots in the US (NYC, Portland, Seattle, The Grand Canyon, etc)

  2. Brandon January 20, 2011 at 7:30 PM #

    Great post! Love the reference to the movie Elf! haha… My name’s buddy…what’s your favorite color? :)

    The quote you gave was really awesome:If you do some­thing that mat­ters, some­thing that ignites your pas­sion, then work never stops.

    • Alex January 20, 2011 at 9:50 PM #

      Thank you, I made that one up, actually =) Use it as much as you want! lol.

      • Brandon January 21, 2011 at 1:47 PM #

        Oh…I knew you made it up! It’s really good! I like making up my own quotes as well.

        Keep up the great blogs! God has blessed you!

  3. stella January 21, 2011 at 12:22 PM #

    I would love to tour Europe. Esp. Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Ireland, Austria, and of course Canada (so I can see what Mae keeps fussing about)Yep that’s a pretty long list. Good thing I’m having kids early so I can do some traveling when they are out of the house.

  4. Dustin January 26, 2011 at 10:38 AM #

    I’ve heard so much about The War of Art. I’ll have to check it out.

    If you do some­thing that mat­ters, some­thing that ignites your pas­sion, then work never stops.” — that is such a great quote.

    Great post!

    • Alex January 26, 2011 at 7:28 PM #

      No doubt, The War of Art it is one of the best books I read last year (and it will probably be on my re-read regularly list for the rest of my life).

      I am glad you like the quote! You are free to use it =)

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