Einstein is often credited with having said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” You might, therefore, say that the following corollary is the axiom of advancement:
“If you want something you've never had, then you've got to do something you've never done.”
Most of us are a little too comfortable in our own routine to break out of it to get the things we really want and sometimes need. We watch TV and wonder why we can’t afford a bigger one. We drink milk shakes with our cheeseburgers and wonder why we can’t run. We are oblivious to the needs of others and wonder why God would allow innocent children to die of starvation.
Life requires initiative. You can’t accomplish anything new without doing something new. Writing a book requires that your write the first page. And then the second page. And so on. Getting in shape requires that you eat right and exercise. Regularly.
No matter where you are in life, you can find people who have it tougher than you and folks who have it easier. If you always compare yourself to those who have it easy, you’ll motivate yourself to mope in despair. If, instead, you compare yourself to those who have it tougher than you, you’ll motivate yourself to work hard, to overcome your challenges and help others.
Consider Erik Weihenmayer, the motivational speaker, skier, marathon runner and mountain climber, who scaled the highest mountain on each of the seven continents—including Everest—blind. Born with a childhood disease that robbed him of his sight, he refused to be limited by his disability. He chose to do things that were not only new to him, but new to the world; he was the first blind climber to ever summit Everest.
Most of the time, when you are called upon to do something new, it will only be new to you. Someone has done it before. That doesn’t make it less worth doing, only easier. You don’t need to pave your own path, you can walk the path that has been paved for you. You may not know where it leads, but you can find a map or a guide to show you the way and what to expect when you arrive.
You don’t have to do it alone. Wherever you want to go, there is certainly someone who has been there and can show you how to get there. Erik Weihenmayer didn’t climb Everest alone; he went with experienced climbers who could show him the way. Whether you want to make a mid-life career change, go back to college or learn to play the guitar, you can find someone who has done it successfully before and can help you to do it, too.
Take courage from the examples of those who have overcome challenges; ignore those who seem to have been given the easy path in life (chances are they’ve overcome more adversity than you imagine) and you can achieve your dreams, too.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.