Do you believe that each of us can really do just about anything, if truly put our mind, energy, heart, and soul into it?
At one point in time I might have, but as I get older, I realize that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Which isn’t exactly a revelation, but the degree to which we can or can’t do certain things is probably more than meets the eye. And the absolutes, particularly in terms of our ceiling with certain things.
Admittedly, I’m generally a huge fan of how being persistent can lead to success. There is much untapped potential that we probably have on a vast array of different things.
However, there are probably other things in which we simply have little chance to succeed. Maybe the trick is finding out what we can succeed doing, what we really have a chance in. Then, make a reasonably quick, calculated decision to invest our time and money where it can make an impact and help us achieve our bigger goals.
Anyway, this topic is one I’m writing about after reading a post by Evan at My Journey to Millions about knowing when it’s time to give up on a dream. Basically, the premise as I took it was that at some point during adulthood, we should grow up and accept that endless pursuit of pie-in-the-sky dreams just might be dumb. If we have others depending on us, it could even be selfish!
I can’t really disagree with the premise, honestly. While not everyone will agree, I think that there are times when some people just don’t have what it takes to succeed in certain things. No matter how hard they try, they just won’t make it.
My comment there, which I’ll summarize here, was an example of someone I knew who should have given up his dream. There was a guy from college who left school well before graduating, dropping out with a sub-2.0 (on a 4.0 scale) GPA. He just didn’t strike me as a serious student, and didn’t demonstrate a grasp of priorities or how important his college record would be for his future endeavors.
Yet, a few years later, I ran into him at a car repair place. He was actually talking about how he was taking college classes again – albeit on a part-time basis of 1 or 2 classes per semester. At that pace, he would have YEARS of classes ahead of him. The crazy thing is that he was telling me how he wanted to get into medical school.
As I listened to him tell me this as he was in his car mechanic uniform with greasy hands, I couldn’t get past the reality that he had a GPA in the “ones” before dropping out. That he was the type of person who would be one of the last you would expect to go to graduate school, never mind medical school! Frankly, he didn’t even seem like someone serious enough to complete a college degree, period.
You absolutely knew that he had zero chance to reach this grand goal of his. It was never going to happen, because he was not capable of doing that. I don’t care if he put his heart and soul into it and studies as if the fate of the world depended on it, and the whole world was cheering him on. His ability was limited. He should have given up on the dream long ago, knowing that he did not have what it took to succeed, since he was sure to be a failure in that specific instance.
That’s not to say he couldn’t be very successful in other endeavors, or even other aspects of life. But his life dream is one that he should have realized was not attainable due to his not being good enough.
But wait? Is that mean to say he wasn’t good enough? Is it wrong to limit ourselves, perhaps selling ourselves short?
I say no. I think it’s good to realize that we are not capable of doing anything we want to. Yes, there are some things that we could put everything into, but won’t succeed. Others just might succeed much more, because they do have what it takes to get that particular dream.
An example: I would have loved to be a professional baseball player when I was younger. I was obsessed with baseball. However, I got cut in tryouts my junior year of high school. I could hit, had very good fundamentals, and knew the game exceptionally well. But I was of purely average athletic ability, and had very modest potential at that level. Thus, it was clear that the party was over . Obviously, no matter how much I put into it, the dream would never materialize because I wasn’t good enough.
I’m okay with it But the thing is, sometimes physical limitations are easy to spot. It’s clear I couldn’t with a slam dunk contest in basketball, given that I’m 6’0′ tall but could never dunk a basketball. And that I’m now 40+ anyway, it’s never going to happen. However, mental or talent limitations are harder to grasp because they aren’t as visible. Thus, it’s easy to dismiss them as being non-existent.
There’s a line in an old Kenny Rogers song, that goes like this:
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em,
Know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away,
Know when to run
Perhaps it’s a matter of being able to differentiate the situations where persistency can lead to great things, and conversely where persistency might lead to nowhere.
What it comes down to is that realism is a good habit to get into, and maybe a profitable one. Not only can we recognize dead end situations, but we can steer our time and energy toward situations that are better investments! I’m just thinking that sometimes calculated realism can trump unwavering optimism, and yield more profitable results. That’s where realism can actually be more exciting!
My Questions for You
Have you ever found that giving up on something was actually a winning decision?
Do you agree with the notion that while we do have a lot of untapped potential in a lot of areas, there are some where we simply have limitations?
Do you find realism to be an important part of sound financial decision making?