Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be, For my unconquerable soul. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.—William Ernest Henley, Invictus
We tend to hear about people when they are successful, but not when they are struggling. This creates a distorted perception that people succeed overnight.
Behind every “overnight success” is a story of a person or a team toiling away for years, with very few people except themselves and perhaps a few friends and partners supporting them.
Consider the following two stories:
Overnight delivery, a not-so-overnight concept: On March 12th, 1973, the founder of FedEx, Fred Smith, secured just seven packages for the first night’s run. He sent his salesmen back into the field, more than doubled his network to 25 cities, and re-launched the service a month later—this time handling a grand total of 186 packages. Smith was so desperate for cash that he flew to Las Vegas to play the blackjack tables. He wired the $27,000 he won back to FedEx. Needless to say, Smith's persistence paid off.
Angry Birds rises from the ashes: At the beginning of 2009, the creator of mega successful video game Angry Birds, Rovio (located in in Espoo, a 20-minute drive west of Helsinki) was close to bankruptcy. Angry Birds was Rovio’s 52nd game. The ‘overnight success’ of Angry Birds took just...eight years. And the founders of Rovio had been thinking about video games for long before that.
So what are the personal mantras, the beliefs that inspire us to move forward against all odds?
Inspiration can come from anywhere and anyone. Mine often comes from books and movies—books and movies that combine life stories with a spiritual journey.
Here are my top five inspirational mantras from my reading and viewing list:
1. Believe in your authentic swing.
“Yep... Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing... Somethin' we was born with...Somethin' that's ours and ours alone.” —Legend of Bagger Vance
The Legend of Bagger Vance is a 2000 film directed by Robert Redford, based on the same-titled 1995 book by Steven Pressfield. The Bhagavad Gita—a Hindu epilogue of life’s mystical journey, inspired Pressfiled’s novel.
2. Protect your dream.
“Hey, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Not even me, alright? You got a dream, you got to protect it! People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period!”—Pursuit of Happyness
The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 American biographical drama film based on Chris Gardner's nearly one-year struggle with homelessness. Directed by Gabriele Muccino, the film features Will Smith as Gardner, an on-and-off-homeless salesman turned stockbroker.
3. Hope is a good thing
“Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. Get busy living or get busy dying.”—The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 film about a banker accused of double murder in the 1940s and begins a life sentence at the fictional Shawshank prison, where he’s befriended by an older inmate named Red. During his long stretch in prison, Dufresne comes to be admired by the other inmates for his upstanding moral code and his quietly indomitable spirit.
4. Focus and be patient.
“The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience. Patience means restraining one’s inclinations. I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience.”—Shogun Toshogu
The Last Samurai is the fictional tale of a broken United States Civil War veteran who travels as a mercenary to Japan soon after the overthrow of the old Shogunate and the restoration of imperial rule in 1868.
5. Trust your journey.
“I was giving up. I would have given up—if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in my heart. The voice said “I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen everyday. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.”—Yann Martel, Life of Pi
Life of Pi is a 2012 movie based on Yann Martel's 2001 novel of the same name. The film is about a 16-year old boy named Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, who suffers a shipwreck in which his family dies, and is stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It explores issues of spirituality and practicality.
[Image: Flickr user U.S. Army]