I’m just finishing reading a book that many of you have probably already read, as it is now several years old. I avoided reading it when it first came out because I was afraid that it might make me think about things I didn’t want to think about. You see, my mom passed away many years ago from a long and painful battle with cancer. It was over 30 years ago now and I was in my early twenties. And since back then my attitude was all about me, all I could think about was how her death was unfair, and how I felt, and what was I going to do? My thoughts were all about me, me, me.
The book I am talking about is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, a man dying of cancer. My mom never wrote a book, but I see some similarities between her and the man in the book, particularly their positive attitudes. My wife found a letter the other day, that my mother wrote and mailed to our two little boys while she was in the hospital, all those many years ago (our third child, a little girl, hadn’t even come along yet). The letter was all about our boys, not about her ordeal in the hospital: “What are you doing? How are your baby kittens? Are you being good for mommy and daddy?” She even included some sugar packets from the hospital because that’s all she had to send them.
Anyway, I ran across a line in the book that Pausch wrote that made particularly good sense to me: “Sometimes a brick wall is put in front of us not to keep us out but to see how hard we want to work for what’s on the other side.”
How often do we give up when things are not going well? How hard do we look for answers to our problems? Can we say that a failure just gets us one step closer to a solution? Do we believe that we always, always, always have choices? Do we have the commitment and desire to decide whether we should go through the wall, over the wall, around the wall, or should we find a way to get to the other side that nobody has ever thought of before?
There are plenty of technical articles out there to tell us how to do things, how to accomplish our goals, and how to achieve success. And they are important. But until we get our attitudes right — until we decide we WILL find a way to solve a problem and get to the other side of that brick wall — all that technical stuff doesn’t matter.
Until that happens, we won’t use the information we have with enough commitment to ever succeed anyway.
Stuff is going to happen. Life happens. Stuff builds the wall. Are you ready to commit what it takes to get to the other side?